Giant Steps is a school & therapy centre that builds
the skills and abilities of children with AUTISM
through academics, therapies, life skills and inclusion
The York Region District School Board's
PLAN TO SHUT DOWN GIANT STEPS in September 2021
is a shameful and damaging hit on children and families
Earlier this year, the York Region District School Board suddenly announced their intent to end our 25 year-old partnership in September 2021.
The Board claims their decision is mostly due to their policies of “equity” and “empowering ethical leadership”, and the unsubstantiated claim that they now provide identical levels of therapies and other autism services. They denied their decision was budgetary or based on performance or student outcomes.
Our community is stunned.
There has been no study, and no consultation with families, the Giant Steps’ team or other autism professionals.
Why is the York Region District School Board targeting children with autism and their families?
We are left to ask this question and fight back against another attack on families living with autism in this province.
Giant Steps will close at the end of the 2020-21 school year.
Gone will be the funding for our kids’ academic program. No more teachers, program assistants or integration of our students into their local public schools. Our children will lose their speech, behaviour and occupational therapies and the seamless collaboration with academics, life skills and inclusion programs that is the foundation of their growth and development.
And gone will be our school with all its specialized equipment and resource areas for students with autism. No less of a loss will be that of the community of support for parents of children navigating the challenges of living with autism.
PLEASE SUPPORT OUR MISSION
TO SAVE GIANT STEPS
Scroll down to ask the
York Region District School Board to rescind this decision.
ASK THE BOARD TO REVERSE THEIR DECISION TO CLOSE GIANT STEPS!
SEE BELOW FOR LINKS TO SEND AN EMAIL AND TO SIGN OUR PETITION
905-727-0022 or 416-969-7170 ext. 3235 (Student Services)
November 20, 2020
"A shining light in a dark valley"
October 22, 2020
Changes coming to autism services
October 20, 2020
Parents object to YRDSB closing Giant Steps
October 16, 2020
Parents protest cuts to autism program
October 16, 2020
OMNI TV covers parent protest
October 16, 2020
A Giant Steps parent speaks to CBC Radio
October 15, 2020
Outraged parents protest YRDSB decision
October 14, 2020
YRDSB to cut autism services
October 8, 2020
A Giant Step backwards for autistic kids
September 18, 2020
Reporter Maleeha Sheikh visits Giant Steps
September 16, 2020
YRDSB repeats Ford autism cuts
"Giant Steps’ individualized program plan for Karthik is almost too good to be true; everything in one setting and in one unified program including academics, speech, behaviour & occupational therapy! Our son is making great gains in his abilities to communicate, socialize and participate in school and other activities, we are now much more hopeful for his future. Huge thanks to every teacher, therapist and program assistant on Karthik’s team!"
"At Giant Steps we found the program that provides our daughter Marika with the consistent expert intervention she needs to make real gains. Their amazing teachers and therapists work as a team to give her the support and strategies she needs to learn and live her best life. Her progress in so many areas has been unbelievable, and can always be seen in her contagious smile. There is no other program like it!"
"Lucas had no communication system and many challenging behaviors & sensory issues when he entered Giant Steps. Now, we hardly see any difficult behaviors and he is using his voice and his iPad to communicate. He has made so many incredible gains and is far more independent and happier. We are so thankful for his teachers and his therapy team at Giant Steps. None of this would have happened without their devotion and expertise."
"Giant Steps provides JP with an integrated approach to learning in a supportive and caring environment. His specific needs are at the core of a collaborative customized education plan that is reviewed and readjusted regularly. With the help of his teachers and therapists who work together, John-Paul has learned to communicate with his iPad, a huge milestone! Thank you Giant Steps! You’re JP's school, social network and second home."
"Thanks to the specialized therapy programs at Giant Steps, Daniella’s speech and communication skills have greatly improved, along with her focus on doing assignments and socializing with her peers. It makes a huge difference to have such a dedicated, expert team of teachers, therapists and program assistants working together every day for the common goal of having your child succeed. We are so grateful for Giant Steps!"
"This is our son’s first year at Giant Steps. After he spent 2 tough years in kindergarten in a regular public school, we couldn’t be happier. The daily programming with specialized therapists and teachers, all tailored to our son’s unique needs, is invaluable and cannot be found elsewhere under one roof.
The progress our son has made in under a year makes us wonder why there aren’t more schools like Giant Steps everywhere!"
Mikayla was diagnosed with autism at age 3. When Mikayla started Giant Steps in kindergarten, expressed her dislike for certain lessons or tasks with severe tantrums that took place frequently throughout a single day.
Giant Steps provided our daughter with an experienced Special Education teacher who worked alongside therapists providing direct therapy in speech, music, occupational and behaviour therapy.
Many years ago, our son Brendan was diagnosed with autism – we were told by experts that he would likely never talk, never socialize appropriately or be able to manage anything beyond grade 2-3 academic work.
Giant Steps gave our son a shot at being successful academically, professionally and socially. I can’t imagine how different his life would be had he not had this innovative program to support him through elementary school.
From an early age, our son William struggled with simple things - eating, speaking, dressing and toileting to name a few. He had such severe sensory issues that he had to have a feeding tube to keep him alive. When it came time for school, we knew that a regular kindergarten classroom could not meet his needs. This is when we were blessed to find out about Giant Steps.
Our son Kadin entered Giant Steps in Grade 1 with behavioural and speech difficulties; he had only a few words and was unable to focus on lessons or tasks. Thanks to Giant Steps’ specialized therapy and academic programming, he made incredible gains during his elementary school years. He became a very happy, social boy.
Founded by a dynamic group of parents and professionals in 1995 and affiliated with the York Region District School Board, Giant Steps Toronto/York Region is a school and therapy centre for elementary school-aged children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
It’s a special place where kids with autism thrive and gain new skills and abilities through a unique combination of academics, specialized therapies and inclusion into their local public schools.
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a lifelong neurological disorder that has risen dramatically in recent years, and now more than 1 in 66 Canadian children have autism.
Children with autism experience a wide variety of challenges in speech and communication, learning, social interactions and behaviour. They are unique individuals with their own strengths and special needs.
Kids at Giant Steps participate in weekly sessions of speech, behaviour and occupational therapies, and our therapists work closely with our teachers and program assistants to meet each child's needs. Many of our students spend part of their week in their local schools with Giant Steps' support.
We believe this data-driven approach of academics, therapies and inclusion makes the difference for kids with autism.