December 11, 2017, | 0 Comments

Why Do We Need the South Asian Autism Awareness Center (SAAAC)? Hearing from Our Volunteers

Whether it was for 3 months or 7 years of volunteering, SAAAC has made an impact on all of our volunteers. It has taught us that when we contribute our energy, time and attention to an individual, we help them overcome the barriers they face. It is this realization and commitment from our volunteers that has allowed SAAAC to serve over 250 families to date!

Whether it was for 3 months or 7 years of volunteering, the South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC) has made an impact on all of our volunteers. It has taught us that when we contribute our energy, time and attention to an individual, we help them overcome the barriers they face. It is this realization and commitment from our volunteers that has allowed SAAAC to serve over 250 families to date!

As we near our 10th anniversary, we have taken the bold step of moving to a new location where can serve over 400 families who need our services. As such, we put together this video to share why we need SAAAC, and in particular why we need your support.


We created a fundraiser for an ABA Therapy Room at our new location. We chose an ABA Therapy Room because this was the first space we occupied as volunteers. It was in this room that we were paired with a student with autism spectrum disorder and then became their mentor. We became someone who not only taught them and guided them through exercises, but also witnessed the way that they met and exceeded the expectations that were set out from them.

Whether it is seeing a student learn to do math problems on an abacus, or watching them say “Thank You” after receiving an iPad, it was an accomplishment that we as volunteers basked happiness in. And so we recognize how important an ABA Therapy room is for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and the way that their learning in this room helps to develop their social, academic, physical skills and daily living.

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Below are some of the programs that take place in the ABA Therapy Rooms:
- Speech-Language Program Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)
- Living’N’Learning Day Program
- Music, Dance & Art After School Program
- Artistic Minds Painting Program
- Occupational Therapy
- Summer Camp
- March Break Program

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SAAAC continues to focus on affordability. Many of the evening programs our volunteers participate in are free. Information about subsidized services – such as our Living’N’Learning program, which helps adults diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder learn skills to develop independence – can be found on our website.
Discovering talent and the personal development of our students are the goals of our ABA Therapy Rooms. Through these programs, we contribute to their development while also discovering their unique skills, whether it is drawing or completing math problems. Through these programs, we provide individuals with the verbal skills required to participate in the workforce. In fact, our Vocational and Employment Skills Program focuses on training and placing out students in fields such as design, decor and office administration, among others.
The staff, volunteers and family members are also a support system by being there to not only support the students through their learning, but also to lend a shoulder when anyone else in the room requires it.

The volunteers themselves are always willing to lend a hand and provide guidance during times of confusion. Knowing there is someone to go to in times of need creates an environment where we all feel comfortable. The centre provides a safe space for the families to communicate and share their stories and a sense of belonging for all members who enter.

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Through this video and fundraiser, we not only hope to fund a new ABA Therapy room, but also raise awareness about autism spectrum disorder and the services available for families. We would love for you to make a donation or spread awareness through sharing this article.

As mentioned in our video, we are all one, and together we can do our part in ensuring that autism spectrum disorder is not a barrier to development and contribution.
A huge thank you to the South Asian Autism Awareness Center for showing us the difference that we can make by simply donating our time.
And a huge thank you to all the volunteers who contributed to this video and to all who dedicate their time towards changing lives. You are an inspiration to us all.
Our GoFundMe page: gofundme.com/ABATherapyRoom *We are also accepting e-transfers. Please email Shaira Wignarajah at wignarajah.shaira@gmail.com if interested.
To learn more about SAAAC, visit our site: saaac.org/
Interested in volunteering? Visit: saaac.org/get-involved/volunteers/

Related articles: The South Asian Autism Awareness Centre How The South Asian Autism Awareness Centre Has Helped My Sister Why I’m Returning to the Stage After 20 Years for SAAAC Transformative Employment For Individuals With Autism TC on the Street @ SAAAC: What’s Your Favourite Tamil Song?

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