There’s a New Kind of Santa Coming to Town

October 22, 2017

By Anna Varriano

In this post, I’m going to tell you about an amazing new kind of Santa … but first, a bit of a lead up to it.

Did you know that October is Autism Awareness Month in Canada? Every October, for the past several years, I have attended the ‘Autumn Evening for Autism’, put on by the local grassroots charity Quickstart Early Intervention for Autism.

It’s a wonderful evening of fabulous food thanks to the amazing Chef Michael Blackie and his wonderful staff at NeXT  (if you’ve never been there, you need to go – fabulous restaurant!), great auction items (here we are bidding on a year of monthly cheese deliveries!), and hearing first hand from families with autistic children about the amazing ways Quickstart has made a difference in their lives. I was so thrilled to learn that this year, this event raised $41,751!

QuickStart Early Intervention for Autism is a local, grassroots charitable organization whose mission is to assist children with autism in reaching their full potential by helping them obtain early intervention, at the first signs of autism. QuickStart raises awareness and initiates programs to cut wait-times, build capacity, and promote improvements in early identification and intervention. Early intervention is life changing to the children and their families. Due to long wait times, children are missing out on key opportunities. QuickStart – Early Intervention for Autism is helping to fill this gap.

The founder, Suzanne Jacobson, knows first-hand the difference that early intervention can make, as her life is touched by autism through her two grandsons. Her eldest grandson missed out on critical early intervention due to the long provincial wait-times. Simply put, she didn’t want other children to miss out like he did and so began the Quickstart charity … and there is no stopping a grandmother with a mission!

All of Quickstart’s programs and services are funded through the generous support of donors and fundraisers so there is no cost to the families. Quickstart does not receive any government funding and Suzanne donates all her time to operate the charity so more funding goes to the children and their families. Among the many programs that Quickstart offers, it is especially proud of its innovative KickStart Intervention program – an individualized, intensive parent-coaching program for toddlers and their parents. The KickStart team includes: a Psychologist, a Speech/Language Pathologist, an Occupational Therapist and a parent coach. The KickStart Intervention program truly “kickstarts” the child’s development. Quickstart also offers a ReFresh ReStart respite program that offers one and two night stays in participating local hotels providing parents the rare opportunity to have a break.

In addition to the above programs, here are a few other ways Quickstart helps families touched by autism:

  • funding diagnostic assessments thereby shortening wait-times for services by upwards of 18 months
  • offering free workshops for parents
  • holding ‘Sensory Santa’ events in six local malls. For children with autism, a visit to the mall at Christmas time can be sensory overload. Sensory Santa events provide an opportunity for special visits with Santa.  These visits are held at a quieter time in the malls to help children with sensory needs be able to see Santa! Click here or on the image below to watch this month’s video on the new kind of Santa that’s coming to town … and FYI, it’s not too early to start thinking about Santa … I just counted and as of the date of this blog post (Oct 24th … my mom’s 80th birthday!), Christmas is only 62 days away!

If you or someone you know would like to attend a Sensory Santa event this year, check the Quickstart website as dates and times will be posted soon.

With 1 in 68 children being diagnosed with autism, I am guessing that your life or the life of someone you know has been touched by autism and that you may even know a family that could benefit from the free life-changing services offered by Quickstart at some point in time. That is why this month, in the giving spirit of Christmas, I am asking that you help Quickstart help even more families by joining me in making a donation to this charity – whatever you can afford – $5 to $500 – every donation ho-ho-ho-helps!

Please click here to make a donation. 

Please click here to learn more about how Quickstart’s services are assisting children on the spectrum and their families.

Thank you for your support.


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