ASC, CASDA, and MacART come together to present the Pandemic Canadian Autism Needs Assessment Survey Report

TORONTO, Oct 9, 2020 – In May of this year, ASC, CASDA and MacART invited autistic Canadians and their families to participate in the Pandemic Canadian Autism Needs Assessment Survey to share their experiences, amplify their voices and achieve shared goals:

  • To provide a mechanism for autistic people and their families to share their experiences of how they have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • To inform service organizations of what services and supports are most needed and helpful for autistic people and families during this time.
  • To inform government of the need for increased supports for the autism community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and future emergency situations.

“It is important not to forget that the ASD community itself needed support before the pandemic; however, the pandemic has made the need for support even more pressing and the types of support the ASD community needs may not match the support needs of the NT population” said Dr. Mackenzie Salt, Postdoctoral Fellow at McMaster University, caregiver advocate, and primary author of the survey report.

This is the first COVID-19 pandemic survey capturing the impact on the autism community in Canada. 1,066 Canadians took part with 21% of respondents identifying as autistic. Some key findings were that:

  • Over 75% of respondents reported feeling stressed, worried, and anxious.
  • Over 50% of respondents said maintaining personal routines/children’s routines as well as keeping a healthy lifestyle (including sleep and exercise) were difficult.
  • Respondents identified services and supports that they needed but were not receiving such as, recreational programing, financial supports, respite and access to health professionals.

“We are grateful for the dedicated participation of respondents who took time to share their personal experiences with us,” said Jill Farber, Executive Director at Autism Speaks Canada. “With this report we expect to increase understanding of the unique hardships of the pandemic on the autism community and be a catalyst for meaningful enhancements to policy,” said Jonathan Lai, Director of Strategy and Operations at Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance. “Through our partnership and commitment to collaborate, together we have identified opportunities for action to improve the quality of life of autistic Canadians and their families; especially during this time of uncertainty,” said Stelios Georgiades, Co-Director of the McMaster Autism Research Team.

To read the full report visit

About Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autism, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. There is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. Causes include a combination of genetic and environmental influences, and many are accompanied by medical issues such as gastrointestinal disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances. Autism affects 70 million people globally. Approximately 1 in 66 children and youth are diagnosed with autism in Canada.

About Autism Speaks Canada

Autism Speaks Canada is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families by supporting and working with community partners; enhancing resources and services; increasing understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.

Learn more and join the conversation

  • Company Website:
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  • Twitter @AutismSpeaksCan


The Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA) was formed July 2007 shortly after the Senate Committee Report “Pay Now or Pay Later: Autism Families in Crisis”. During this time the federal government sent a clear message to the autism community: We need to work together with a unified voice. The autism community responded by forming CASDA. The founding members of CASDA all believed that there was more our Federal Government could do for autism and together we could make change happen. One thing we all agreed on was that this country needed a National Autism Strategy.

About MacART

The McMaster Autism Research Team (MacART) is a partnership between McMaster Children’s Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences, and McMaster University that aims to bridge the research-to-practice gap in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). MacART is designed to foster collaboration among the families, researchers, clinicians, educators, and policymakers whose lives and work are touched by ASD.

Learn more about MacART’s goal of advancing autism care through meaningful research at:

For further information

Sarah Ahmed
Director, Marketing & Communications, Autism Speaks Canada
(647) 241-7746 (mobile) (416) 362-6227 ext. 208
[email protected]

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