Category Archives: World Events

April is World Autism Acceptance Month

The Autism Society initially launched the Autism Children’s week in 1972 to spread awareness about autism, promote acceptance, and foster societal change. This initiative eventually evolved into what is now known as Autism Acceptance Month (AAM). This year’s campaign, “Celebrate Differences”, focuses on building awareness of the signs, symptoms, and experiences of autism. #CelebrateDifferences provides information and resources about autism and promotes more inclusive communities for autistic people.

According to Statistics Canada (2018), approximately 1 in 66 children and youth are diagnosed with ASD in Canada. ASD is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how the brain works. ASD affects people differently, partly depending on the number and type of symptoms. Given the unique individual experiences of people with ASD, counselling must be tailored to each person’s needs.

Learn more about Autism Acceptance Month and ASD:

Psychology Today: “Moving Beyond Autism Awareness to Autism Acceptance” – by Gary Drevitch.

Learn about Autism Spectrum Disorder


Aucademy: Autistic academics, researchers, teachers, speakers, trainers, and advocates formed an online learning platform with information and resources about autism.

The Autistic Advocate: A resource for autistic people, parents, and professionals. This website includes a collection of stories that reflect the societal barriers that autistic people face.

Autistic Self Advocacy Network: Its mission is to promote the principles of the disability rights movement for autistic people. Their work includes public policy advocacy regarding autism and leadership training for self-advocacy.

Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network (AWN): AWN offers community, support and resources for all women and girls, transgender and cisgender, nonbinary people, trans people of all genders, Two Spirit people, and people of marginilized genders.

Ausome Autism Training | Challenging your thinking on autism. A platform that provides training about autism led by autistic people.

Autism Mama: Kaylene created a platform to offer support to parents of autistic children.

Changing The Narrative About Autism & PDA: Jessica Matthews is a writer, researcher, and advocate. Her writing is shaped by her work and her own lived experiences living with autism. She is passionate about supporting the development of Positive Autistic Identity. This is her blog:

Foundations for Divergent Minds: A non-profit organization founded by autistic and neurodivergent people. The organization is grounded in the principles of disability justice and promotes inclusive, practical, just, and affirming neurodiversity-based programming and education.

Kristy Forbes – Autism & ND Support Kirsty Forbes is an autism and neurodiversity support specialist who draws from her lived experience as an autistic person and her extensive professional experience as an educator.

NeuroClastic is a website that provides a platform for autistic people to share their lived experiences and stories. They also provide resources for adults, educators, neurodivergent people, parents, employers, and professionals.

The Neurodivergent Co. Education led by autistic people, drawing from their professional and lived experiences. This resource focuses on dismantling the stereotypes about autism.

Neurodivergent Rebel. “Rebelling against a culture that values assimilation over individuality”. This is a blog led by Christa Holmans who is an autistic self-advocate. Christa’s career background is in recruitment, employee retention, marketing, and consulting.

Thinking Autism Guide. A comprehensive site containing autism news and resources by autistic people, professionals, and parents.

Trauma Greek is a website offering education and resources for parents and helping professionals. It is led by Janae Elisabeth who is a researcher-storyteller and neurodiversity advocate. It focuses on the science of trauma, neurology, relationship, and community.

Psychology Today: “Reframing Professional Language Around Autism” – by Abigail Fagan.

Psychology Today: Read work from Erin Bulluss, Ph.D., and Abby Sesterka, who collaborate as authors to write about autism, drawing from scholarly work and their own lived experiences as autistic people.


“Knowing Why: Adult-Diagnosed Autistic People on Life and Autism” – by Elizabeth Bartmess. This book includes essays from a diverse group of autistic adults. Topics include recovering from burnout, exploring passions and interests, coping in social situations, and coping with sensory overload.

“Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism” – by Barry Prizant. This book focuses on a non-pathologizing approach to understanding autism.

“Been There. Done That. Try This!: An Aspie’s Guide to Life on Earth” – by Debbie Denenburg. This book includes practical help and solutions and fosters ideas and compassionate understanding.

“Divergent Mind: Thriving in a World That Wasn’t Designed for You” – Jenara Nerenberg. A non-pathologizing book that recognizes and celebrates neurodiversity. Jenara Narenberg is a Harvard and Berkeley-educated writer, entrepreneur, and mother who discovered that her symptoms that had been labelled as “anxiety” were now labelled as “autistic” and “ADHD”.


Autism Resource Centre

Autism Community Training offers free and paid training resources:

The Autisticats are a group of three autistic young adults who share their experiences as neurodivergent people. They have a blog, a poetry page, and a resources page on their website: This is their Instagram account Instagram account. is a free resource on social skills:

Neurodiversity Affirming Therapists is a Facebook group that offers information and resources:

Embrace ASD Open Community is a Facebook group where autistic people and people without ASD can interact and learn about autism:

Ask me, I’m Autistic (24hr rule!) is a Facebook group for asking questions of autistic people. Its focus is on amplifying the voices of autistic people:

Aucademy is a Facebook page created by autistic educators that are passionate about providing information and resources about autism.

The Autistic OT is a Facebook page and blog focused on occupational justice and identity development.

Bobbi Elman: NeuroDivergent Autism Support ™ is a Facebook page that offers information and resources about autism and promotes neurodiversity and neurodivergence.

Not Another Autistic Advocate is a Facebook page focused on autism advocacy by an #ActuallyAutistic person to dismantle myths about autism and provide a platform for autistic people to voice their experiences is a blog written by a therapist, author, and international speaker on autism-related topics, including her own lived experiences.

Mona Delahooke, Ph.D., blog offering support for neurodivergent people.

WHO’s World Mental Health Day: How COVID-19 is changing worldwide mental health?

My grandpa unexpectedly died last week. He was living in a residential facility in the lower mainland due to his health and increasing difficulties with dementia-type symptoms. Due to (well-founded) concerns regarding the virility of covid-19, I had not been able to visit with him or hug him since before the virus started circulating in March. Even in death, I found myself visiting his body alone and wearing a full gown, gloves, a mask, and eye protection. There could be no risk of the virus passing onto his previous co-residents. If death wasn’t sobering enough, the experiential contrast from previous death rituals I’d attended was stark.

While I didn’t lose my grandfather to covid-19 directly, the indirect effects contributed to both his death and now to our family’s grieving. I knew he was lonely and missed us bringing in outside food- food is the love language in my family. I knew that loneliness contributes greatly to increasing dementia symptoms (Lara et al., 2019; Sutin, Stephan, Luchetti, & Terracciano, 2020). I knew that his confusion about why we couldn’t visit him made him feel even more lonely and abandoned. I also knew that the nurses and aides who had been managing their own anxieties regarding virus transmission were becoming more burnt out by the day. They were trying their hardest but in the end, they were exhausted.

Not only has the pandemic affected how our vulnerable populations live but it has transformed everyday life for most of us. I find it’s easier to feel overwhelmed now and my reactions to being overwhelmed are different than they were pre-March 2020. For instance, I used to juggle a lot of projects all at once, flitting between each one and able to focus for long periods of time. I might get tired or irritated occasionally but a quick redirect and I was back to work. I’m now finding that the smallest change in plans or the addition of “one more thing” sends me into a freeze response. My brain shuts down. I can’t remember anything else. When I come to, I realise that I’ve been staring into nothing for 20 minutes. This would be fine if I were in a position where I could space out and there’d be no consequences but as a graduate student, it’s a problem. I have a pile of work to do and no one else to take anything over. In these moments when I start to feel like the worst grad student ever, I have to take time to think about my context of living through a significant worldwide pandemic and that I’m not alone in this reaction (If you’re doing well, I’m genuinely happy for you!).

The World Health Organization marks World Mental Health Day on October 10th and it’s timely theme is mental health effects due to Covid-19. It is a call to scale up investment in our mental health systems because we are facing unprecedented levels of distress. There’s a couple of examples in my own vignettes above: grief and loss, loneliness, burnout, and anxiety. People have been impacted in many ways by the pandemic and it has influenced their overall mental health. We have good data to suggest that overall mental health difficulties are on the rise and in particular, depression and anxiety (Pfeffenbaum & North, 2020; Torales, O’Higgins, Castaldelli-Maia, & Ventriglio, 2020). Physical distancing has left many feeling lonely and isolated (Galea, Merchant, & Lurie, 2020). Occupational burnout felt by essential and healthcare workers is extremely high right now (Azoulay et al., 2020; Wu et al., 2020). And I personally know several parents losing their mind while trying to juggle childcare and working from home (Brown, Doom, Lechuga-Peña, Watamura, & Koppels, 2020; Patrick et al., 2020). The need for services and counsellors is growing in order to meet the needs of an overwhelmed planet.

While the above all seems extremely gloomy, I take solace in knowing that I’m not alone in what I’m feeling. In the end, many others are staggering through this pandemic just like me, grasping for whatever comfort they can. As a fellow student, I want to tell you that if you’re having a tough time, you’re not alone! For me, I know that my knowledge and abilities as a developing clinician will soon be needed. Counsellors will be needed to process this overwhelming event and therefore, you will be needed, too. Maybe there is comfort to be taken in knowing that your current training will help someone else through their grief, anxiety, or depression brought on by such a worldwide event? Taking good care of yourself now is crucial to making it to the next helping step and beyond.

In our next blog post, the CPSA team will be talking about some of our own favourite self-care tips. We’ll be asking for yours, too.

If you want more information on the WHO’s work and expertise related to covid-19, you can visit:

Here is a list of UBC resources related to covid-19:

Photo Credit: Evgeni Tcherkasski via

Azoulay, E., De Waele, J., Ferrer, R., Staudinger, T., Borkowska, M., Povoa, P., … & Pellegrini, M. (2020). Symptoms of burnout in intensive care unit specialists facing the COVID-19 outbreak. Annals of intensive care, 10(1), 1-8.
Brown, S. M., Doom, J. R., Lechuga-Peña, S., Watamura, S. E., & Koppels, T. (2020). Stress and parenting during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Child abuse & neglect, 104699.
Galea, S., Merchant, R. M., & Lurie, N. (2020). The mental health consequences of COVID-19 and physical distancing: The need for prevention and early intervention. JAMA internal medicine, 180(6), 817-818.
Lara, E., Martín-María, N., De la Torre-Luque, A., Koyanagi, A., Vancampfort, D., Izquierdo, A., & Miret, M. (2019). Does loneliness contribute to mild cognitive impairment and dementia? A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Ageing research reviews, 52, 7-16.
Patrick, S. W., Henkhaus, L. E., Zickafoose, J. S., Lovell, K., Halvorson, A., Loch, S., … & Davis, M. M. (2020). Well-being of parents and children during the COVID-19 pandemic: a national survey. Pediatrics, 146(4).
Pfefferbaum, B., & North, C. S. (2020). Mental health and the Covid-19 pandemic. New England Journal of Medicine.
Sutin, A. R., Stephan, Y., Luchetti, M., & Terracciano, A. (2020). Loneliness and risk of dementia. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 75(7), 1414-1422.
Torales, J., O’Higgins, M., Castaldelli-Maia, J. M., & Ventriglio, A. (2020). The outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus and its impact on global mental health. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 0020764020915212.
Wu, Y., Wang, J., Luo, C., Hu, S., Lin, X., Anderson, A. E., … & Qian, Y. (2020). A comparison of burnout frequency among oncology physicians and nurses working on the front lines and usual wards during the COVID-19 epidemic in Wuhan, China. Journal of pain and symptom management.