Local parents to launch website full of resources for fellow parents of kids with autism, exceptionalities

Lennox and Addington County Autism Network founders Mandy Stapley, Kristy Blais and Ashley Piontek have helped to put together a website designed to provide several resources for parents and guardians of those with autism or other exceptionalities. Submitted photo.

Adam Prudhomme

Lennox and Addington County Autism Network will celebrate World Autism Day on April 2 with a virtual launch of their new website, www.LACAutismNetwork.com

Created by local parents of kids with various exceptionalities, the website aims to be a free resource for their peers.

“We’re going to have links to funding options, community events, blogs of stories from moms and hopefully soon from our dads and for ways to get involved,” explains Mandy Stapley, one of the founding members of the L&A Autism Network.   

Getting involved can range from donating financially or previously used sensory toys such as Lego, or even volunteering time to help with community events. 

Also helping to launch the website is Kristy Blais, Ashley Piontek, Laura Ross and Jaclyn Ympa, all parents of kids on the spectrum. 

“We wanted to help people in a situation where we found we were alone and didn’t have any kind of a start,” said Stapley. “We wanted to guide them with our experience and lead them down the right path. We’re trying to put all that information into one space. It’s not just all local resources, but it could be stuff you could visit more at a provincial level or even a federal level. If there’s resources available such as a grant through the government, we’re going to try and link those things and the application process.”

 Stapley says the site is meant to be all inclusive and isn’t limited to people with a diagnosed autism. It will provide resources for people with exceptionalities of all ages as well as their family and caretakers. 

Like so many recent events, social distancing practices have caused the group to have to adjust the launch party, which was originally going to take place in person. Instead for now it will be strictly a virtual launch to coincide with World Autism Day, with perhaps an in-person event at a later date. In keeping with the social distancing theme, the website will also include links to online activities for parents looking to keep their kids amused, such as a live video feed of Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. 

Founded last April, the Lennox and Addington County Autism Network has grown steadily in its first year. They’re available on Facebook by searching their name. They’ve also created an event page for the April 2 launch.

World Autism Day is celebrated every April 2 and aims to put a spotlight on some of the challenges people with autism face everyday. 

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