Neurodiversity, Uncategorized

Jocelyn Vilneff has accepted LACAN’s offer to join us as an Associate Member.

Jocelyn Vilneff
LACAN’s Newest Associate Member

We couldn’t be more excited about Jocelyn joining our team as an associate member with LACAN.

Jocelyn might appear to be young but don’t judge a book by its cover! Jocelyn has gained great amount of inspiration during her experiences being a dance teacher.

It was here when she learned valuable lessons while working with children. She had a strong sense for a greater need for inclusion of children living with barriers and exceptionalities.

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. Kool Kamp is geared towards inclusion and providing supports for persons with exceptionalities to experience summer camps.

This experience lead Jocelyn to become a respite worker with Children’s Aid Services, as well as in personal residences.

Jocelyn recognizes that with every child, comes new needs, and she believes in fostering a supportive environment, with positivity, for an individual to 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, which is an asset to our organization.

Jocelyn shares her experiences of witnessing children who could 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.


Join us on Facebook at: Autism Network LAC.

Neurodiversity, Uncategorized

Help Bring Positive Changes to Neurodiversity by Signing E-Petition 2858

We’ve been working on lots of exciting projects in the name of autism. But this project is so important to me because it can create the most change for our future generations.

To do this, I need your help to make a real difference. All I ask is for you to sign the petition linked below. 👇🏻

Be a part of the change.

Any Canadian citizen can sign here 👇🏻 by simply clicking on the hyper-link below.

You can help by bringing e-petition 2858 to the attention of your elected official, your family and friends.

Lennox & Addington County Autism Network will be there to watch MP Sloan while he presents this in the House of Commons.

Please take the time to ensure this petition gets the attention it deserves, no matter your political affiliation.

***Check your Junk folder, you will have to confirm your submission, only The House of Commons sees the signatures.***


Light It Up Blue for Autism Awareness Month – October

Dear Friends of the Network,

2nd Annual Light It Up Blue Campaign

Lennox & Addington County Autism Network put forth a Proclamation to the Town of Greater Napanee and they have not let us down. This October we will celebrate our 2nd Annual “Light It Up Blue Campaign for Autism Awareness”

October is National Autism Awareness month. Autism Awareness month is a time to celebrate differences and reflect on the importance of awareness, acceptance and understanding in all aspects of our community.

Lennox & Addington County Autism Network (LACAN), we are committed to creating a kinder, more inclusive community for people living with autism. We strive to change the face of autism within our community as well as pursue efforts to increase understanding and acceptance of people living with autism.

We invite you to join us in this important endeavour, by supporting the “Light It Up Blue” Campaign.

Your support will help create inclusivity, strengthen health, social and educational programs, and reduce stigma toward people with autism in our community.

Businesses can show their support by lighting up their storefront blue and showcasing our “Light It Up Blue” poster to help promote autism awareness in our community.

To receive your free blue lightbulb (while supplies last) and poster, please contact Mandy at (613) 532-0465 or by email at

Residents are encouraged to show their support by lighting up their own windows in blue.

Thank you for making our community a better place.

Strathcona Paper Centre, 2019.

Blue lightbulbs for our community supporters.
Light It Up Blue – Autism Awareness month.

Anyone else have mom-guilt when sending little food to school in their lunch bag?

We’re ready for our first school adventure tomorrow.

This photo makes me extremely emotional for many reasons. It reminds me Hank is different and requires so much more support to be included.

Let’s talk food aversions.

Does anyone else struggle with guilt when sending your child to school with non-nutritional food items?

Hank has had such a difficult relationship with food; texture, smell, colour and taste.

Hank eats; corn-twists, plain rice cakes, peanut butter toast, McDonald’s fries/hash browns and milk.

The food clinic through Hotel Dieu Hospital in Kingston, Ontario was consulted and shared its typically the case with children who live with ASD.

Professionals in their field shared, food aversions and sensory processing disorder is common in ASD children with relation to food preferences.

The Maltby Centre food program was overall unsuccessful for Hank and it continues to be an ongoing challenge throughout his journey.

I continue to remain hopeful that with time Hank will want to try more foods so he can have a positive relationship to that avail.

We’re starting back to school tomorrow with a transitioned amount of time: two hours.

We’re transitioning from an intense behavioural intervention (IBI) 19 hours per week to community supports (ABA) 3-5 maybe max 10 hours per week.

This is AGAINST parent recommendations and without opportunity to appeal.

YES. You read that CORRECTLY.

In a democratic society this seems unethical, but I’ll move on and hope I get answers to the questions I’ve placed in professional hands.

Clinical supervisor gave a recommendation from the Maltby Center, whom is contracted from OAP (Ontario Autism Program)

It is in Hank’s best interest in the meantime to take full advantage of the 6 month allotted transition time for IBI to ABA service individuals.

Maltby transition team, along with LDSB is an excellent resource that should be utilized more!

This team is diligently working to support Hank in making his transition to full-time public school as smooth as possible.

I’d love to hear your experiences or ideas in getting littles to try new foods with severe food aversions.


Light It Up Blue Campaign for Autism Awareness – October 24, 2020.

Please join us at Disco Roller-skate event to support autism in our community.

Fundraiser to support the Lennox & Addington County Autism Network will happen during Town of Greater Napanee’s “Light it Up Blue” campaign to support autism acceptance and awareness. LACAN provides community insight, opportunities, and information to support individuals and families affected by autism.

Please join us and support a good cause while celebrating and honouring those living with ASD.

This is a fundraiser, all skaters and non-skaters are kindly asked to pay the $10 cover fee. Additionally, $2 (if you require skate/blade rentals.

Hope to see you there, everyone is welcome!

Fun for all ages


To the Mom at the park who struggles to help her child engaged with their peers…. I see you.

First time playing in the splash pad this season

Hank loves water!

He loves splashing and feeling sprinkles of water on his hands and face. I adore watching his facial expressions, filled with so much excitement and joy.

Unfortunately, Hank still struggles in social settings due to sensory processing disorder commonly related to persons living with autism.

This poses challenges for Hank when visiting busy public spaces, such as the splash pad, which is a favourite spot for many during the hot summer days.

Today, the park was quiet, perhaps a sign that fall is on its way.

We often try to visit the park closer to dinner in hopes it will be less busy, maximizing our time for sensory overload.

Hank waited patiently today for his turn on the suspension swing. “Hank’s turn” he would chant after every kiddo inched forward towards the swing.

Four kiddos in line may not seem like a huge feat to many, but to Hank it’s an accomplishment worth celebrating.

This is where I took reflection today of last years visits to the Rotary Park with Hank. He has overcome many sensory/behavioural challenges, it’s really astonishing and I couldn’t be more proud of how hard he continues to work.

What use to be; pushing, hitting, kicking would have us leaving the park in a “football hold” while screaming “help”. I am extremely hopeful this is a thing of the past. (Fingers crossed)

Today, Hank observed the splash pad empty, and pointed saying “water”. I motioned with my hand to push the button for the water to start and go in the water.

I had little expectation he would actually go in, since he’s been quite tentative approaching the splash pad in the past, but there were always many others around.

The common sounds of the park may seem inviting to most; kids having fun, giggles, screams of delight and shouting “over here”.

These are the unexpected sounds that cause Hank to spiral into a meltdown. All the uncertainty is overwhelming to him.

He is slowly beginning to understand the concept of sound cancelling headphones, which is changing our lives for social interaction!

Hank ventured into the splash pad water and played peacefully. He didn’t seem deterred by more kids joining once he was splashing around.

I hope more days are like today. Today was a good day.

He is my reason. ❤️♾

Mandy Stapley


Sound Cancelling Headphones

Sensory Processing Disorder looks differently to each person who lives with it. What triggers stress in one person may not bother another.

For instance, Hank doesn’t mind the sound of music, fire trucks or laughter. Rather his triggers are things like; unexpected dogs barking, washing machines filling with water, and industrial lawn mowers are just a few things that will leave him crippling over covering his ears in distress.

These sensory overloading challenges have been challenging to overcome for Hank. Since he is so adverse to having anything over his ears, it’s made it difficult to encourage him to wear sound cancelling headphones to help decrease the noises around him.

Over the past couple days, I purchased an adult pair of headphones and began prepping to “really focus” on presenting these headphones every time a sensory sound arises for Hank.

I began immediately last night. There was barking outdoors and it appeared to bother him even indoors as he covered his ears. I saw our first opportunity put the headphones on but tried a different approach then in the past. So I placed the headphone on myself and said “oh my, no more barking these are magic- will Hank try?”

He let me put them on him! He kept them on for several minutes. I praised him for using them to help with the barking and told him I would keep them near in case he needed them again later. (Insert a lot of inner happy screaming and jumping)

Fast forward to this morning when our grass was being cut and Hank was experiencing discomfort. I provided the headphones and he immediately put them on and watched his ipad happily for several minutes.

Sound Cancelling Headphones

This was a HUGE deal, because in the past Hank would’ve refused the headphones and tossed them, likely ending in a meltdown from frustration.

What a difference a year can make. He is understanding cause and affect much better and I’m so thankful!

Just keep trying. What didn’t work before, might just come together soon. 🤞🤞

Mandy Stapley


LACAN Newsletter

Lessons from COVID


From my previous posts and blogs, many of you will be aware that  (LACAN) Lennox & Addington County Autism Network has a special interest in caring for people with (ASD) Autism Spectrum Disorder and related diagnosis. We provide specific support to our community and offer programs free of charge to families whom need it. This priority was encouraged by my experiences navigating the OAP Ontario Autism Program a few short years ago. It began our affiliation with the Autism community in Kingston, L&A County, Belleville and Quinte West and we have been expanding our efforts in autism care ever since.

Sticker Activity – Building Fine Motor Skills

While there is no cure for ASD, there is support and awareness. Support has, and, continues to be, the central pillar of our organization. Today with 1:55 diagnosed with ASD, our vision is to change the face of Autism.

Reflecting on a recent meeting of care for my son, affected with autism, it occurred to me that there are many parallels to COVID-19. Both strike people of all walks of life; both are disorienting and isolating and both are incredibly difficult on individuals and family units.

The COVID pandemic provided all of us with a sense of the confusion and isolation that ASD families experience regularly. But this never ends for many who live with autism. Whether it is isolation due to the mental limitations of ASD, sensory processing disorders, or quarantine for COVID, the risks often places people living with autism apart from the people they love and cherish.

COVID has highlighted the work of home-care workers and family caregivers. Previously invisible to the care ecosystem, they have received a big lift in public respect and admiration as the warriors in this battle for support.

SLP – Big Words Little People

Home has now been firmly established as a safe place to care for someone guarding against COVID and for someone living with ASD. And now, as we have all learned to stay connected using technology so too must we enhance social connections with loved ones and health-care professionals using tools like virtual support groups and zoom conferences.

We must stand united in our support of families, caregivers and home-care workers who are the backbone of our support system. I believe we must never shut families out of the care process. Perhaps this will help to lessen the pain of the far too many grieving family caregivers as a result of the regression COVID-19 has caused individuals and families affected by autism.


Mandy Stapley

LACAN Founder/President



Speech Therapy Tools & Tricks

Lowercase Sandpaper Letters – SLP recommended for sensory touch pairing with letter sounds!

These cards came in today! I’m excited to start using these in our home.

Thank you, Big Words Little People – Speech-Language Pathology and Literacy Consulting for always coming up with creative ways to get Hank to engage in speech sessions.

Didax Educational Resources…

What does sensory-seeking look like?

We had a typical morning, up at 5:45 AM, requesting captain underpants on YouTube while having milk and corntwists.

Why does rain feel so good to a sensory-seeker?

Stimming was very high this morning, since we’ve had more company over in the past few days then usual, and it’s shown.

Hank requested a “tubby” which he often craves to have sensory soothing or grounding feeling the water gives him when submerged.

Hank’s respite worker is a star of a woman. She handled a meltdown yesterday with no one getting hurt. (Insert applause)

I only hope she will return after such a frightful experience. This is always something I worry about when supporters who aren’t generally exposed to sensory overload in autism related meltdowns are often traumatized by their experiences.

Back to my story, sorry I got sidetracked, with relating to sensory-seeking.

After a morning tub to ground Hank, he verbally requested “go outside”. We went outside, as I always try to honour Hank’s verbal requests as best I can to encourage communication.

The stims returned quickly as we made our way down the short walk to the park at the end of our street.

The park wasn’t overly busy, five kiddos to be exact, and most of them were familiar to us.

Hank began sensory-seeking to cope with the stimulating noises, activities and hustle-bustle happening at the little park.

Hank began to pour sand through his fingers, above his head and watching as it fell to the ground. He came over to me, sitting on the bench and began to collect gravel along the unmaintained path to begin the same process above with a new texture and feel.

I could sense the stimulation was boiling and wanted to offer options so I asked him if he wanted to go home? “Is it too busy here today?” He replied “no go home”. We pressed on, while I tried to talk through his feelings.

As a parent, this is the challenging part, trying to find ways for your kiddo to cope appropriately, while enjoying being around his peers in hopes to make a friend.

Moments later, the skies opened up and it began raining. Really raining!

All 5 kiddos ran home to take shelter from the rain, while my boy stood in the rain as if it had instantly washed away all the anxiety and stimulus of the outside world.

As I sat in the sand under the climber taking shelter from the fast, heavy rain I could feel my eyes welling up.

Why is everything so hard for this little boy?

I certainly feel blessed to be this little boys Mother, and as his Mother I will always advocate for him in hopes he gets the best possible chance to succeed in this world.


If you enjoy our stories, please follow us on Facebook at Lennox and Addington County Autism network to learn more about our journey.