SaskFEATSaskatchewan Families For Effective Autism Treatment
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SaskFEAT Closure - submitted: Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - 16:53

The board of SaskFEAT has been following the social media conversations regarding the closure of the organization as of October 1, 2018. We want to thank those who have sent positive comments and private messages about the work our volunteers have done over the last 17 years. We were also disappointed by some of the negative comments that were posted, but understand that change is never easy and loss is hard. Progress never comes as quickly as we want and there is always more to do, but as volunteers, and parents ourselves, the board feels honoured to have supported individuals and families living on the Autism Spectrum in Saskatchewan during our time of operation. The decision to close the doors of SaskFEAT was not an easy one, but it is a decision that will not change. For individuals or community members that may be interested in starting a new autism support group and/or organization we wish you well, but that will not happen under the SaskFEAT incorporation. We ask the community to respect this decision and lastly extend our sincerest gratitude to our families, caregivers, community partners, service providers, and donors over the last 17 years.


Arden C. Fiala

SaskFEAT President 




- submitted: Tuesday, August 21, 2018 - 11:22


Sask. autism support organization closing due to volunteer shortage

"We're taxed, we're frustrated, we're tired and whatever little energy we have is not going to go into volunteering and doing more work with autism."

Updated: August 21, 2018

For 17 years, Saskatchewan Families for Effective Autism Treatment (SaskFEAT) has been supporting families on their journey with autism, but after difficulties filling volunteer positions, the non-profit has announced it will be closing its doors October 1.

Arden Fiala, who has an autistic daughter, has been SaskFEAT’s president for eight of her 10 years at the organization. She’s been trying to find new people to pass the baton to for the last two years.

“We do not have the capacity of a working board, as well as I’ve been now involved for just over a decade and it’s time, like I am burnt out,” said Fiala. She said that parents with autistic children already have a lot on their plate and struggle to take on more work.

“As parents, we’re immersed in autism 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We’re taxed, we’re frustrated, we’re tired and whatever little energy we have is not going to go into volunteering and doing more work with autism.”

Saskatoon mother Patti Biwer is kept busy by her 13-year-old daughter Acacia — who has autism and Down syndrome — and her 11-year-old son Andrew. It’s the family support SaskFEAT provides that Biwer uses most.

Through donations, SaskFEAT has provided grants to siblings of autistic kids for what Fiala called “sibling respite,” and this is what Biwer appreciates for her non-autistic son.

“That’s just something that people don’t often think about, is the fact that there’s other kids in your family,” said Biwer. “My son gets left out and so SaskFEAT has been awesome in providing a grant so he could go to summer camp and he could do different things.”

A hole will be left in services for families of autistic children in the province once SaskFEAT shuts its doors, said Biwer.

“It’s a loss,” she said. “If your whole family is functioning better then, you know, you can function better as a parent and you can provide better for your child.”

Arden Fiala, president of the Saskatchewan Families for Effective Autism Treatment (SaskFEAT). ARDEN FIALA / SUBMITTED

But the most important service SaskFEAT provides is connecting families on a journey with autism with other families on a similar journey, said Fiala, which has been a help in her own life.

“I’ve been so blessed to find other parents that have daughters on the autism spectrum, because that’s a different perspective versus having a son,” she said.

“The way that I can phone another mom or I can phone a professional and get them (to answer) questions to assist me on the autism journey with our daughter and our family, so that to me is invaluable. You cannot put a number to it.”

Fiala hopes that the organization has been able to connect enough families across the province that the families will be able to maintain a network of their own once the organization is dissolved.

SaskFEAT’s dissolution will also leave a gap in autism advocacy across the province, said Fiala, and she worries that autism will not now have a strong voice calling for government action.

“Sometimes I wonder with the advocacy piece, have we made an impact? Are we being heard?” she said.

“I hope SaskFEAT has connected enough parents with other parents that the impact might not be so difficult, because we still have parents that are advocating for not only their own children but assisting other young families or newly diagnosed families.”

SaskFEAT will begin dissolving on October 1, and Fiala said the non-profit is hoping to have everything sorted out by the end of December, with the website and Facebook page coming down, leaving no way for people to contact the organization.


- submitted: Wednesday, August 1, 2018 - 10:20

- submitted: Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 20:07

Read the update below or at the website by clicking here.

An update has been posted to

7 May 2018
Hello and welcome to our new subscribers. We want to let you know that a "forum" section has been added to the website. We have posted specific questions about your opinions on research ethics (organized into five categories for the five guideposts of person-oriented research ethics described on our "about" page). You can discuss these questions in the forum, or answer them privately via the contact form, email, phone, or whatever method works best for you. We look forward to hearing from you and thank you for your feedback.

- submitted: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - 18:18

SaskFEAT would like to provide parents/caregivers with an update regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Individualized Funding.  As it was reported on April 10th, $4,000 will be available for children with an ASD diagnosis under the age of six in 2018-19.  The Ministry of Social Services has experience to administer these types of benefits and will be providing the funding directly to parents and will begin taking applications in July.  The benefits will be administered in August; however, payments will retroactive to April 1, 2018. 

There was a teleconference with the ASD Individualized Funding Stakeholder Working Group, which includes SaskFEAT, this morning so that The Ministry of Health can provide further details about the program and the parent/caregiver resources that are currently being developed. This is the information that can be shared by SaskFEAT


  • The $4,000 Individualized Funding will not be ‘income tested.’
  • There will standards in place to ensure the validity of the Diagnosistic Team/Practioner.
  • Only evidence based, best practice services and supports will be eligible for the $4000 Individualized Funding.
  • There will be no added funding for travel expenses incurred to access the evidence based, best practice services and supports.
  • There will be one lump sum of $4000 to each parent/caregiver, with random audits of receipts for accountability and monitoring.
  • A Registry of qualified and regulated professionals is being developed, with the target completion date of June 2018.


Please let me know if you need any more information or have any questions. Once further information is released it will be posted on the Facebook Web and Facebook Page.







- submitted: Friday, April 13, 2018 - 14:26

It is because of the thoughtfulness and generosity of a donor, Kathy from SaskFEAT presented a $1000 cheque to the Parent Advocates for Autism Treatment in Saskatchewan’s (PAATS) Autism Family Camp.  This will be PAATS’s third year hosting the Autism Family Camp in Cypress Hills. Camp is a great weekend for families to get away and enjoy a weekend in a beautiful setting with facilities and support workers that make camp a fantastic experience for our autism families.


You can find information about the autism family camp on our website at: autism-family-camp-1

- submitted: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - 18:41

This is the link to the news clip about the proposed Individualized Funding that was announced in yesterday's budget, it starts at the 10:17 mark of the video

- submitted: Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 13:47


Individualized Funding For Autism Spectrum Disorder March 15, 2016 - submitted: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 17:57

Individualized Funding For Autism Spectrum Disorder

March 15, 2016


SaskFEAT has been contacted by the SaskParty in regards to today's announcement "Individualized Funding For Autism Spectrum Disorder March 15, 2016" SaskFEAT also received a written response to the two questions from the SaskFEAT Toolkit that were presented to the SaskParty. The SaskParty's written response will be posted tomorrow.



Self-Directed Funding Demonstration Project a Success - submitted: Thursday, September 22, 2016 - 15:40





Self-Directed Funding Demonstration Project a Success

Released on September 21, 2016

Social Services Minister Tina Beaudry-Mellor today announced the future implementation of a self-directed funding (SDF) model for individuals who experience intellectual disabilities to give them greater choice over their life decisions.  Self-directed funding allows individuals experiencing intellectual disabilities to choose supports that meet their needs and help them reach their goals.

Currently, funding to clients goes through community-based organizations, but under SDF, goes directly to the individual.  This allows individuals and their support team to decide which supports and services they access depending on their own unique needs and aspirations.  Minister Beaudry-Mellor joined participants of the SDF Demonstration Project and their families to celebrate the positive impact and successes of this approach.

“The result of the SDF pilot has been remarkable,” Beaudry-Mellor said.  “I look forward to working with the disability community to find ways for even more people across the province to experience the success that the project participants have had.  SDF aligns with the Saskatchewan Disability Strategy by providing individuals experiencing disabilities with more effective supports and services, as well as a greater sense of dignity in gaining more independence.”

Lynn Schaan, whose son Daniel was a participant in the project, joined Minister Beaudry-Mellor at the announcement, which took place in Daniel’s home.  Through SDF, Daniel now lives independently with a roommate (his brother) and has trained support staff visit when needed.

“Self-directed funding allows Danny the freedom and choice to create a unique plan of daily living that puts joy in his life, light in his eyes, hope in his dreams and the safe environment to grow, mature and become the best he can be,” Schaan said.  “I am overwhelmed by Danny's growth in the past 10 months.  Like every parent, I hoped and dreamed that Danny would have a good life if he had the appropriate supports, and self-directed funding has given Danny that opportunity.  I am so grateful.”

The Saskatchewan Association for Community Living (SACL) is a community-based organization that works to ensure that individuals experiencing intellectual disabilities are valued, supported, and included, and have opportunities and choices in all aspects of life.  The Ministry of Social Services partnered with SACL to provide facilitation and navigational services to participants and their families during the demonstration project.

“The Saskatchewan Disability Strategy talks about making supports for people with disabilities more person-centred, and self-directed funding is one way to make that happen,” SACL Director of Strategic Initiatives Judy Hannah said.  “Self-directed funding allows people with intellectual disabilities to create a plan for their lives.  SACL is so pleased to have been a part of the project.  It has been incredibly exciting to see the changes in the lives of each of the individuals and families involved.”

SACL produced a video demonstrating the positive impact of SDF that can be viewed at

A self-directed funding option was one of the recommendations put forward by the Valley View Centre Transition Steering Committee in 2013.  The Committee recognized that some individuals were unable to access certain supports through the former funding model, and that a funding model with more choices and autonomy would personalize the supports and services available to individuals transitioning from Valley View Centre into communities across Saskatchewan.  The self-directed funding model will be implemented province-wide beginning April 1, 2017.

Individuals and families who are interested in this opportunity can talk to their Community Living Service Delivery worker for more information.


For more information, contact:

Leya Moore
Social Services
Phone: 306-787-3610

- submitted: Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 13:47


Individualized Funding For Autism Spectrum Disorder March 15, 2016 - submitted: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 - 17:57

Individualized Funding For Autism Spectrum Disorder

March 15, 2016


SaskFEAT has been contacted by the SaskParty in regards to today's announcement "Individualized Funding For Autism Spectrum Disorder March 15, 2016" SaskFEAT also received a written response to the two questions from the SaskFEAT Toolkit that were presented to the SaskParty. The SaskParty's written response will be posted tomorrow.



Autism Society Canada’s Statement on latest estimated Prevalence Rates of ASD – June 2014 - submitted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 - 20:37

According to the latest estimates (March 2014) of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) 1 in every 68 children is born with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  This results in approximately 515,000 Canadians living with an ASD. This figure does not account for the numerous family members and caregivers whose lives are impacted by autism.

“New data from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network show that the estimated number of children identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) continues to rise, and the picture of ASD in communities has changed. This new data can be used to promote early identification, plan for training and service needs, guide research, and inform policy so that children with ASD and their families get the help they need. CDC will continue tracking the changing number and characteristics of children with ASD, researching what puts children at risk for ASD, and promoting early identification, the most powerful tool we have now for making a difference in the lives of children. Learn the 10 things you need to know about CDC's latest ADDM Network report.”  

In May 2013 the American Psychiatric Association (APA) completed the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5). The DSM is the standard reference for diagnosing mental illness and disabilities in North America, and was last fully revised in 1994. The latest version introduces a new diagnostic category called Autism Spectrum Disorder that replaces the previous diagnoses of Autistic Disorder, Asperger`s Disorder, and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).

A diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder recognizes individuals with a wide range of needs, strengths and challenges. People on the autism spectrum depend on lifelong supports and services. It is the hope of ASC that the updated prevalence rates and changes to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) will provide a better basis for expanded access to supports and services that will result in better outcomes for those on the ASD Spectrum.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), also referred to as autism, is a neurological disorder which affects the way the brain functions, resulting in difficulties with communication and social interaction, and unusual patterns of behavior, activities and interests. Autism Society Canada actively advocates for services and support for individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), their families and their communities. Autism Society Canada's mission is to work with our many partners to address the national priorities facing the Autism Community.  Autism Society Canada is the largest collective voice for autism in Canada.

Autism Society Canada / Société canadienne de l'autisme
Toll Free: 1-866-476-8440, Tel: (613) 789-8943 direct line.

Please visit us here:




Senator Jim Munson's Bill S-206 for World Autism Awareness Day - submitted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 14:17


Speaking Notes re: Standing Cttee on Health – review of Bill S-206

October 16th, 2012 But I hesitated.

Because what I really want to talk to you about are people. I especially want to talk to you about family members and caregivers; those very people who are challenged on a daily basis to support and care for a loved one living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Let me share with you a story... A little while ago Autism Society Canada received a memorial donation from someone who, I suspected, wanted to send a gift to a charity in lieu of flowers. We are always appreciative of those who think of us at a time that must be extremely difficult. Then the next day we received a few more donations in memory of the same person.

Her name was Susan.

A couple of days passed, and yet a few more memorial donation came in for Susan. (This is not totally uncommon. Our organization may receive quite a few gifts in memoriam during the course of a year). However, I thought to myself that Susan must have been a pretty special person to have so many friends and family members who cared about her... and I felt as if Susan herself was sending us all her flowers. As is often the case with memorial gifts to a national organization: I normally do not know the deceased personally, and I am often unaware of their connection to Autism Society Canada.

This case would be different.

A couple of weeks after the first memorial gift, I received a letter from Jan, Susan’s mother. She wrote to me to tell me about Susan. You see, Susan was a mother of a child living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. She told me about how Susan fought for five years with her local school board to get her child in an appropriate class. She told me how Susan’s child did not have friends at school or in the neighbourhood. She told me how Susan felt that she had failed as a mother and as an advocate for other children with autism.

She also told me that Susan had taken her own life.

Losing Susan should not have happened.

I have chosen to recount this tragedy, which is an extreme case, to illustrate a point: there is a misnomer out there that autism is not deadly.

I beg to differ.

Awareness of Autism is clearly lacking.

I applaud Bill S-206, an Act respecting World Autism Awareness Day, which by definition takes on this issue. Ignorance of Autism can no longer be an excuse.

For Canada, this Act is essential to support the many Autism organizations striving to work together on behalf of individuals living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder and their caregivers across this country.

Bill S-206 also gives Canada a unique opportunity to demonstrate leadership in this area to the international community.

In closing, I would like to reaffirm the need to raise awareness on Autism Spectrum Disorders, so that tragedies like the Susan’s never reoccur. Autism Society Canada has a broad reach – our member societies work in direct contact with families, care-givers and individuals living with an ASD across this country. Our societies inform us that access to services from one province to another is indeed unequal – there exists glaring gaps in treatment and resources across this country. We believe it is time to address this, we believe it is time for a National Autism Strategy in Canada.

I would like to thank you, Madame Chair and members of this committee for your invitation to be present with you today. Thank you also to Senator Jim Munson, for your unwavering dedication in pursuing Canada’s full support of World Autism Awareness Day.

Richard Burelle

Executive Director

Autism Society Canada

Madame Chair, Committee members, Senators, Members of Parliament and guests:

I want to thank you for allowing me to represent Autism Society Canada as we give our wholehearted support to Bill S-206, an act respecting World Autism Awareness Day.

Last night, I sat down pen in hand, ready to make some notes about what I wanted to speak to you about today regarding our support of Bill S-206. I gathered all my notes beside me, including: the number of committees that ASC has, as well as their challenges and their successes; news on the advances that we had made at the Federal level; a list of hurdles that are still ahead.

Medicare for autism now - submitted: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 18:01

Please see the new link for Medicare for autism now website.

Box 483
Shaunavon, SK.
S0N 2M0