AAFS was founded by a small, dedicated group of parents who saw a need for social and recreational programming specific to the ASD community. It was known to them that many youth on the spectrum of Autism did not fit within traditional day camps or recreation programs intended for typical children, nor did they feel comfortable with the structure of specialized camps and programs for children with disabilities.
A program was needed that would be tailored to their specific social and recreational needs; a program yet to exist where the staff understood their abilities and they would be accepted for who they were. A place where they could come and be empowered to take part in the world around them, and where they could become a vital part of their community.
The original seven families held one common thread in their connection to Dean Svoboda, a man who provided private care for their children. The parents approached Dean about using his philosophies to become the basis behind a bold new agency. From this intention, AAFS was born, and continues to this very day to share its values with the ASD community at large. Placing faith in our youth, and fostering their independence, making a difference for those who need it most. AAFS exists to become an important part of its members lives, and to become an invaluable support in their lives beyond.
We wish to recognize the Autism Calgary Association (ACA) and express our gratitude for their early commitment to AAFS. After a large number of local agencies declined the AAFS pilot project proposal - ACA came through with the support we 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 required, space in their newsletter to advertise our new society, and most importantly: support and belief in our program. To this day they remain one of our closest community partners.
At AAFS, we focus on serving our members as best we can by finding gaps in their service and filling those gaps with socially enriching programming. When AAFS began in 2004, we had only seven families, and we now proudly serve over seven-hundred. We have gone from holding one activity per week, to having activities seven days a week and many days, we even have two or three different activities running simultaneously. To put our growth in perspective: during our first twelve months of operation we provided just over five-hundred hours of service to our families; in June 2010, we provided over fourteen-hundred.