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Mission Objectives

1. Increasing global understanding and acceptance of people with autism

Autism affects 1 in 66 Canadian children and more than 70 million people worldwide. At Autism Speaks Canada, we’re driven by the belief that all people with autism should be given the opportunity to reach their full potential. Increasing understanding and acceptance of every individual’s uniqueness is key to making this a reality.

Key Programs

World Autism Month

We celebrate World Autism Month in April and spread a message of understanding and acceptance. Global monuments and local buildings are lit up in blue to show their support for our Light It Up Blue campaign to help promote kinder and more inclusive communities.

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Sensory friendly events

All year round we collaborate with our partners to create sensory friendly events so autistic Canadians and their families can experience special moments together. We have successfully delivered more than 6,900 sensory friendly events including: Autism Speaks Canada Walks , Cineplex Sensory Friendly Screenings , and Sensory Friendly Santa Experiences.

Advocacy for national autism strategy

Autism Speaks Canada works collaboratively with the Autism Alliance of Canada (formerly known as the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance) and other stakeholders toward the development and implementation of a national autism strategy that will improve the health and well-being of people with autism and support caregivers through public policy change.

Community Grants

Each year, we launch grants to autism service providers to increase their capacity and effectively serve the Canadian autism community. Grants are selected using a rigorous review process, through a community panel of autistic individuals, family members, friends, service providers and research experts across Canada. Since 2010, we have granted over $4.8 million to over 198 organizations across Canada. Approximately 42% of these grants help support our mission objective of increasing global understanding and acceptance of people with autism.

Annual Highlights

Participated in the annual World Autism Month campaign, which engaged 16.3 million people globally to increase global understanding and acceptance of people with autism.
Launched Brighter Life on the Spectrum campaign, sharing authentic stories of autistic Canadians and their unique abilities, challenges and desires.
Relaunched Autism Speaks Canada’s brand campaign to showcase our deepened commitment to a more inclusive world.
Hosted 18 Autism Speaks Canada Walks in five provinces raising more than $720,000 with over 6,000 participants.
Provided opportunities for autism-friendly experiences including 400+ sensory friendly movie screenings in 35 locations, hundreds of visits with Santa and the Easter Bunny in over 50 locations, over 100 weekly participants in autism friendly online gaming streaming events and more.
Gifted 500 new tablets to individuals with autism and service providers across Canada.
Alongside CASDA, Autism Speaks Canada took a leadership role in advocating for a national autism strategy to the federal government, which has been successfully mandated by the Prime Minister of Canada to be developed by the Health Minister.

Stories From Our Community

Meet community members whose stories exemplify the importance of increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism.

Meet Dr. Catherine

Meet Lindsay

Meet Bryson

Meet Steven
Wise and Susan
Zikman Wise

Canadian Champions of MSSNG, PATH and Scientific Research

Meet Steven Wise and Susan Zikman Wise

Canadian Champions of MSSNG, PATH and Scientific Research

Steven Wise and Susan Zikman Wise began their philanthropic journey over 30 years ago because of this formative statement. They have worked diligently to raise awareness and funds to make a difference in the lives of children and their families across Canada. Through their commitment, along with their children and the countless volunteers that share their vision, they have funded over $25 million dollars to more than 150 children’s charities. These funds have helped accelerate breakthroughs in the fields of research and science and have enriched educational and community-based centres for our most vulnerable children and youth.

Leadership at Autism Speaks Canada

Wise Family Foundation (formerly KRG Children’s Charitable Foundation) is a loyal supporter of Autism Speaks Canada and is proud of the work accomplished together. Since 2007, Steven Wise and Susan Zikman Wise have donated $8.6M to enhance lives and build a spectrum of solutions for autistic people and their families. We are proud to announce Wise Family Foundation’s $3.5M commitment to support Autism Speaks science programs. Read full announcement here.

Both Steven and Susan have committed their time and energy to help grow and strategically plan for Autism Speaks Canada as Board Directors. Steven has been a trusted advisor to the executive team and Susan has overseen the distribution of over $5 million in grants, to autism-focused organizations across Canada, as an integral part of the Autism Speaks Canada Family Services Community Grants committee.


Wise Family Foundation is a leader in empowering scientific research. In 2014, Steven Wise and Susan Zikman Wise were one of the first Canadians to commit $2M to the MSSNG project. MSSNG is a groundbreaking collaboration between Autism Speaks, Autism Speaks Canada, Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences), DNAStack, SickKids and the research community to create the world’s largest genomic database on autism. The project has led to better diagnostics, as well as more personalized and accurate treatments for autism. The success of MSSNG has resulted in an expansion of the project which seeks to bring an unprecedented level of research expertise together to understand the complex causes of autism and identify potential treatments which will help them transition to adulthood. Wise Family has made a $3.5M commitment to support this expansion of the science program. Read full announcement here.

Autism Speaks Canada Strategic Targeted Initiative Grant for ISAND

Through Autism Speaks Canada, Wise Family Foundation granted $400,000 to ISAND, a non-profit organization with an integrated team of developmental pediatricians, psychologists, clinicians, and therapists. Together we helped build ISAND’s operation and administrative infrastructure by supporting mission-critical expenses. The team works together with families to achieve the best possible outcomes for young people with autism and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Explore Wise Family Foundation’s transformational contribution to Autism Speaks, Autism Speaks Canada, SickKids and so many others by visiting their website: