Donation of funds for early autism recognition research

The Kiwanis Club of Ottawa is pleased to announce a donation of $25,000 to Ottawa-based charity QuickStart. The funds will help develop a new program called KickStart, which will provide parent coaching and learning services for children 30 months and under who have been diagnosed with autism.

“Kiwanis is proud to support such an important initiative,” said Alison Hunter, president of the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa. “Through programs like KickStart, Ottawa can become a leader in the field of early autism recognition research, and we’re happy to help expand these efforts.”

QuickStart was founded in 2008 by Suzanne Jacobson, who saw the impact of autism firsthand when both of her grandsons were diagnosed with the disorder. She partnered with the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre to create the first pre-diagnosis clinic in Canada. Through QuickStart, children and their families can now receive free support services even before an autism diagnosis. Experts agree that addressing symptoms as early as possible is crucial to help prevent developmental regression.

“Right here in Ottawa, over 300 children are diagnosed with autism each year. Due to waiting lists that are measured in years, children are missing out on the optimum time to receive intervention. Waiting severely limits the child’s ability to develop to their full potential,” Jacobson said.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that impacts the typical development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. In North America, one in 88 newborns is diagnosed with autism. QuickStart’s new treatment program, KickStart, will not only help children and their families, but will provide evidence to the medical community on early intervention in autism.

An External Advisory Committee—made up of representatives from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre and the CHEO-related First Words Clinic—will study the outcomes of KickStart.

“The program not only brings immediate help to needy children and their desperate families, but the lessons learned can be applied to the much larger publicly funded system that is trying to cope with the full 300 children per year diagnosed with autism here in our city,” said Jacobson. With the $25,000 donation, more children can be added to the program, which will increase the program evaluation sample size. “This will in turn enhance the credibility of the results in the professional judgment of our colleagues in the publicly funded sector,” said Jacobson.

The Kiwanis Club of Ottawa Direct Assistance Committee coordinates the review and approval of various funding requests from assigned community groups or eligible individuals. Projects and organizations are assigned funding based on criteria that are consistent with the Kiwanis mandate of helping to build a better community. 

Our good news story was picked up by the Ottawa Citizen.