Back to articles Footprints: Respite Program for families with autistic children

Categories: Parenting

April is Autism Awareness Month so we would like to share with you a local Durham Region organization that offers a wonderful service to local families who have children with autism.
Autism Spectrum Disorders is quickly becoming one of the most prevalent neurological diagnosis for children in the last ten years. Autism affects one in 150 children on average and the disorder effects boys more frequently than girls. Perhaps you or someone you know is struggling to locate local, affordable respite care for your or a family member?s child who is diagnosed with autism. FOOTPRINTS is a respite day-program for families with children, aged 13 years and under, who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Programs are offered on a weekly basis in Pickering and Whitby.

A volunteer-staffed respite program, FOOTPRINTS provides respite care in a safe and happy environment. Children participate in a variety of activities in a caring and socially engaging setting. Activities might include art and crafts, baking, sports and/or games as well as imaginative pursuits such as story time and dress-up play. Not therapy, FOOTPRINTS provides a socially stimulating setting where differences are respected and the kids are encouraged to be themselves while they explore their world supported by a trained volunteer per participant.

Each child is provided one-to-one support by a trained volunteer. Volunteers must be a minimum of 16 years of age and commit to providing a minimum of 5 hours to the program per month. Comprehensive training is provided to all volunteer, including Introduction to Autism, First Aid, and Non-Violent Crisis Prevention Intervention.

Families often tell us how much FOOTPRINTS has impacted their lives; a few comments include:

?My daughter (non-verbal) squeals with delight when she sees the church (building)?.

?Because my child enjoys this day, it helps her at home. She is quite happy to attend FOOTPRINTS on a Saturday?.

?I am off to see my older son?s hockey game knowing that his brother is well-cared for and will have a great time today?.

Honoured by the City of Pickering with the 2009 Access Award for Disability Awareness and one of four charities of choice for the 2011 Mayor?s Gala, FOOTPRINTS is recognized as a integral service for families in the community. Supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the United Way of Durham and the Rotary Club of Pickering, to name just a few of our supporters, FOOTPRINTS gives families a very precious gift ? the gift of time.

FOOTPRINTS Pickering offers care on Friday evenings from 5pm ? 8pm and Saturdays from 9am ? 2pm; FOOTPRINTS Whitby offers care on Saturdays from 9am ? 12pm. Pre-registration is required and families are required to provide information about the nature of their child?s condition to allow for the customization of care. FOOTPRINTS charges a modest fee for service and receipts are provided.

For more information, log onto or call 905-420-0388.