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New centre for autism services opens in Kingston

ACT Learning Centre has officially opened the doors of its newest private practice in Kingston.

The new location, ACT’s fifth private practice and first outside of the Ottawa region, will provide speech-language pathology and occupational therapy for children with developmental disabilities.

ACT Learning Centre was initially founded in 2019, starting with one location in Ottawa and receiving funding for eligible programs from the Ontario Autism Program.

CEO Cindy Harrison, whose youngest child was diagnosed with autism at 21 months, said while seeking out care for them over the years the lack of centralized services consistently stuck out as a challenge.

“I remember thinking: wouldn’t it be amazing if we could get all of the services that we need, or most of them, under one roof,” Harrison said.

Through government funding, ACT provides the Caregiver Mediated program – training parents to intervene with autistic children – as well as the Entry to School program across Ontario from Ottawa to Durham.

Harrison says a particular shortage of speech pathologists and occupational therapists was observed in Kingston, leading to the launch of the new private practice.

She says even while Kingston has a lot of good service providers both private and public, demand still exceeds supply.

“That was really the decision, that there are many more families wanting the services in Kingston than can receive them,” Harrison said.

“So we felt that was an opportunity to help address some of those long waiting lists.”

Harrison says both in the case of speech pathologists and occupational therapists that the services provided are broader than most people imagine.

She says that regardless of what a person’s diagnosis is, every client is approached differently.

It’s a way of treating autistic children while addressing their needs more specifically.

“One of the things that the professions are moving away from and have been for some time is what I call diagnostic based thinking,”

“That’s just not the way you can think about it, you think about the young person that’s in front of me.”

The Kingston based private practice has been open for just over a week with ACT looking to intake families in the area.

The new location is at 31 Hyperion Court.

Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporterhttp://ygknews.ca
Born and raised in Whitby, Ontario, Owen has been living in Kingston for about three years after starting the band Willy Nilly. Prior to that he worked at CKLB radio in Yellowknife and completed studies in Niagara College's Broadcasting program.

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