Global News

February 18, 2013

One-of-a-kind model for autism services

Marc Bennie, 15, and his sister Julia, 13, have autism and are receiving support services at The Ability Hub. They are with their parents Maureen and Ron Bennie in Calgary on November 10, 2012.

Photograph by: Christina Ryan , PostMedia News


CALGARY — In 1999, when Maureen Bennie’s son, Marc, was diagnosed with autism at age two, she and her husband were left to cope on their own.

No one referred them to any support services for Marc, or even told them where they could find help. “I was given five pamphlets and I had one meeting with a social worker. That’s all the help I got,” Bennie recalled.

"The Child Development Centre, located at the crossroads of the University of Calgary campus and the Alberta Children’s Hospital, houses an array of autism services for all ages."

Instead of being steered immediately toward interventions that could have given Marc a fighting chance at blunting autism’s devastating course, Bennie wasted valuable time struggling to find speech and behavioural therapy — as well as ways to pay for those expensive services.

“It took me six months to figure it out on my own,” she said.

Still reeling from the shock of the diagnosis, Bennie felt so overwhelmed that she spiralled into a depression.

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