AAFS was founded by a small group of parents who saw a need for social and recreational programming specific to the ASD community. Many kids on the Autism spectrum did not fit traditional day camps or recreation programs for typical children nor did they fit Camps and programs for children with disabilities. A program was needed that was tailored to their special social/recreational needs, a program where the staff understood their abilities and they would be accepted for who they are.
The original 7 families had one common thread, a connection to Dean Svoboda who provided private care to their children. The parents approached Dean about using his philosophies to be the basis behind starting a new agency.
We wish to recognize the Autism Calgary Association (ACA) and express our gratitude for the its early commitment to AAFS. After a number of local agencies declined the AAFS pilot project proposal, ACA came through with the support needed to launch the program. Direct client care did not fall under ACA’s mission so they were willing to do whatever they could to help our new program get started.
Without the support of ACA in those early days, AAFS would never have gotten off the ground. They provided us an office space, funds when needed, space in their newsletter to advertise our new society and most importantly support and belief in our program. They remain one of our closest community partners to this day.
When AAFS began is 2004, we had 7 families. We focus on serving our members as best we can, finding gaps in service and filling those gaps. We have gone from 1 activity per week to activities 7 days a week and many days, we have 2 or 3 different activities running. To put our growth in perspective; in our first 12 months of operation, we provided just over 500 hours service to our families; In June 2010, we provided over 1400 hours.
One thing we are most proud of at AAFS is what we have accomplished with little capacity in comparison to similar agencies. We have 2 Full Time Staff, 2 Permanent Part Time staff and 12-20 seasonal Part Time staff. We have no Fund Development department, No Full Time Office/Administration people and No Human Resources department. We instead focus our resources on Program Service and Development.