About the network

The Lennox & Addington County Autism Network is a volunteer, parent-led support group for all individuals and their loved ones with exceptionalities.

Our mission is to provide support to our local community, fellow agencies and partner to provide resources, support and information for those who need it most.

Our vision as a not-for-profit organization, is to provide opportunities to individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We strive to provide every person living on the spectrum to have an equal opportunity to achieve their fullest potential in life.

Corporation Board Members

Lindsay Walsh – Board Member

Director- Associate Member

Hi everyone, my name is Lindsay I’ve accepted a position on the LACAN diverse board of directors.

My son is neurotypical, his name is Archer. We love our boxer named Lyric. Our family has friends of all different abilities and backgrounds.

I am dedicated to being an inclusive family as well as a supportive source for our neurodivergent friends.The decision to accept this diversity position on the LACAN board is an honour.

I am delighted to assist in spreading awareness surrounding social inclusion, to teach our children to be good advocates as well as good friends!Inclusion starts young, it’s learned – we can all be good teachers.

Let’s help our youth understand that it’s ok to be different!Looking forward to an inclusive future with you!

Lindsay Walsh

Ashley Gilbert – Board Member

Director/Associate Member

Ashley is a self-advocate and identifies as neurodiverse. LACAN is thrilled to have her voice on the board of directors.

Ashley gained a great amount of inspiration while being an older sibling to Avery who is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

When growing up, Ashley sensed she was different from her peers, always seeking a real connection and not really sure how to make it happen on her own. She suffered in silence for many years, not understanding what others were laughing and joking about, which was usually aimed towards her and being bullied most of her academic life.

Ashley enjoys artistic work as well as technology. These activities/work help her to reduce the stress and anxiety of social sensory input throughout her day.

After falling through the cracks of a system not built for her, Ashley hopes to continue her education and learning about disability studies and be an advocate for change.

Sarah Fisher – Board Member

Director/Treasurer

My name is Sarah Fisher, I reside in the Town of Greater Napanee. My son is 15 years old and he lives on the autism spectrum.

Our journey has been adventurous in getting to where we are today. We look forward to sharing our experiences with you, and the network to help advocate for positive change in our community.

We were given an opportunity to work with Queen’s Psychology Clinic, who are remarkable in advocating for kiddos on the spectrum. The continous gratitude we feel has no words.

For 15 years I have worked with the vulnerable persons population. My career blends well with our personal values and ethics. Not only as a family, as an individual.

Today I am pleased to announce my partnership with LACAN as we advocate in commitment to educate the community about autism and those on the spectrum.Looking forward to joining our community in neurodiversity.

Sarah

Jocelyn Vilneff – Board Member

Director/Secretary

Jocelyn gained great inspiration while being a dance teacher. When working with children, she sensed a greater need for there to be inclusion of children living with barriers.

Jocelyn worked at Kool Kamp held at Children and Family Services in Napanee, where she was inspired by each and every child she worked with.

This lead her to become a respite worker with Children’s Aid Services, as well as in personal homes. With every child, comes new needs, but she strongly believes in fostering a supportive environment, with positivity, a child will flourish.

Jocelyn is entering her 4th, and final year of her bachelor of fine arts in dance (honours degree) with a concentration in dance education at York University.She has also earned her certification in crisis prevention and intervention.

After seeing children fall victim of the injustices of our systems, she hopes to further her education with a master’s degree in disability studies and be an advocate for change.

Mandy Stapley – Board Member

Director/President

My name is Mandy, I reside in the Town of Greater Napanee. I am a single mother to son, Hank, who lives on the autism spectrum (non-verbal/semi-verbal) or otherwise known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Hank’s birth was “normal,” no complications and considered natural. I sought a referral to a Paediatric doctor when Hank was nearing 18-months old because I had strong feelings he wasn’t meeting typical milestones for children his age.

This process has been a long and challenging journey for Hank as well as the many people supporting us along the way.

At times I had feelings of navigating blindly. I felt helpless, scared, alone, defeated and like a failure as a mother.

I found myself reaching out for any and all types of information about autism I could get my hands on. I learned to put trust into the professionals in their field and I began to trust my “gut” feelings when it came to mothering a non-verbal child.

Hank required tubes at 24-months, after an Audiologist specialist determined he was hearing impaired. Hank received surgery for tubes, and was diagnosed with ASD shortly thereafter.

Hank began an intense behavioural intervention (IBI) program with the Maltby Centre located in Kingston, Ontario at the age of 5 years old.

Hank, like many children, waited on a list for 3 years for this therapy, which is now considered a shorter wait (my opinion is that is so detrimental to families languishing for support).

During Hank’s treatment, he began using Picture Exchange Communication (PECs) as a form of communication. Hank’s communication increased and he upgraded to an iPad with a Proloquo2go app, known as an augmentative communication device.

It was during this time, I began to reach out to my community to connect with like parents with unique yet similar situations. Networking with like-minded people is so important for your mental health, if I’ve learned anything throughout this journey. Finding the right people to share your life with is key.

This lead to the creation of a grass-roots network to serve our community and help each other through challenging times of uncertainly.

Thank you for your support and kind messages! Together we can make a difference in our community, province and with hopes, our nation.

Mandy Stapley