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ACT's Advisory Council is made up of representatives from around the province and from a variety of
professional backgrounds, all of who volunteer their expertise to enable ACT to provide an effective,
efficient service on a limited budget. Many of our Advisory Council members are parents who are
active in communities from as far north as Mackenzie, right down to Delta. They represent a diverse
resource of experience, enabling ACT to keep in touch with the needs of the families living in very
different circumstances. Our professionals play an essential role in ensuring that we continue to keep
current with best practices in the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder and provide
unbiased and credible information to families.

Dr. David Batstone Mary-Ann Fulks Dr. Suzanne Jacobsen Minda Neptuno
Richard Benbaruj Cyndi Gerlach Randy James Aisha Sawchuk
Dana Brynelsen Betty-Ann Garreck Dr. Gerry Kysela Jo-Anne Seip
Lorraine Cristofanetti Susan Henke Dr. Pat Mirenda Sue Wastie
Dr. Vik Dua Valerie Ish Shannon Muir Carol Ywan
Blair Dwyer




 

 

Dr. David Batstone is a clinical child psychologist with the Vancouver Island Health Authority. He was a co-founder of the Autism Early Intervention Program at Queen Alexandra Centre for Children's Health in Victoria, and is currently providing autism diagnostic services in Victoria and other Vancouver Island communities. He completed his education at the University of Western Ontario, and worked at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton, before returning to his native Victoria.

Richard Benbaruj is an adult living with Asperger Syndrome and is a promising aircraft designer. He has a long-time association with ACT's Executive Director and ACT's Director of Research and Training. He has been a volunteer with other organizations that support people with ASD. His specialty is public presentations and he speaks on all aspects of Asperger Syndrome. His philosophy regarding intervention is "When considering a situation first do no harm and let the person, in particular, demonstrate what they need."

Dana Brynelsen has been the Provincial Advisor for the Infant Development Programs of BC since 1975. She is the author of a number of articles on early intervention and has presented internationally Dana has worked with many communities throughout Canada in establishing and evaluating services for families who have young children with special needs. Dana has a particular interest in supporting families in their efforts to raise their children and has received many awards for her work in this area. She recently received a honourary Doctorate of Laws from UBC for her work with families with children with disabilities. Dana is hard of hearing from birth and has been involved with services and advocacy for hard of hearing children and adults.

Lorraine Cristofanetti is the Facilitator/Advocate for Autism Support Kelowna (ASK). She has played an active role in her community for the last six years. ASK organizes a monthly support group as well as workshops, community education, support to parents finding services and advocacy for families and individuals. Lorraine is married and has two sons, one with autism and the other with additional challenges.

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Dr. Vik Dua is co-director of the BC Autism Assessment Network and the Provincial Autism Resource Center. He served as the primary researcher and writer for the Ministry of Health policy paper: Standards and Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Assessment of Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Vikram is a child and adolescent and forensic psychiatrist. He completed his medical school training at McMaster University in Hamilton and then went on to do a residency at Harvard Medical School. He is an associate clinical professor at UBC.

Blair Dwyer is a well-known Canadian tax lawyer. After career stops as a Senior Rulings Officer with Revenue Canada and as a partner in McCarthy & McCarthy (now McCarthy Ttrault) in Toronto and Vancouver and with Crease Harman & Company in Victoria, Blair established his own firm in 1995. Dwyer Tax Lawyers is a boutique law firm that restricts its practice to tax and estate planning. He is the author of several publications on Canadian tax law and has taught Advanced Taxation at the University of Victoria. He is the father of two children on the autism spectrum.

Mary-Ann Fulks is an occupational therapist with almost 20 years experience in pediatrics and is recognized for her broad knowledge of Autism Spectrum Disorders. She completed her sensory integration certification in 1990 and her Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Sciences at UBC in 1996. She is currently employed with Vancouver Community Mental Health Services in an adolescent day treatment program, the Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders (POPARD) and has a private practice.

Betty-Ann Garreck volunteers as facilitator of Autism Kamloops, and is coordinator of Autism Parent Partners (APP). She has been involved with organizing many learning opportunities on autism for parents and professionals in Kamloops. Betty-Ann is the mother of five wonderful individuals, four of whom have disabilities, including autism, ADHD, LD, and FAS: "A strong advocate for family and community...a true believer autism is treatable."

Cyndi Gerlach runs the Moms on the Move email service, which provides news and networking for parents of children with special needs across the province. Cyndi lives in North Vancouver with her husband and three sons, two of whom have an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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Susan Henke has been facilitating a Parent Community Group since 1998 in the West Kootenays region, encouraging education for parents & professionals, fundraising, supporting families, and providing resources and information. Sue is an active participant on the Advisory Committees for the Infant Development Program and Supported Child Care Program. Sue and her husband have three children, ages 9, 7, & 29 months: "My oldest son has autism and because of his Autism, we thank God every day for giving us such a precious child, for our son has been able to teach us the precious lesson of life."

Valerie Ish is a Human Resources professional with more than 25 years of public and private sector experience. Valerie lives in North Vancouver and is Principal of Valerie Ish + Associates, Inc., a company that offers HR consulting services to organizations in the Lower Mainland.

Dr. Suzanne Jacobsen is a Registered Psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She has provided services to children with complex developmental disabilities and autism in education and health care settings for 30 years. Suzanne is a certified teacher and has taught children and adult learners. She currently is working in private practice providing assessment and diagnosis of children and behavior consultation for families of children with autism spectrum disorders. Each day she works to balance her professional roles with the joy and challenges of being a wife, mother, grandmother and daughter.

Randy James, BA, BSW is the Team Director of the Developmental Disability Mental Health Services and Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessments for the Interior Health Authority, based in Kelowna. Randy is a founding member of the BC Association for Mental Health in Developmental Disability (BC AMHiDD) established in 1999 and has been chair of the Bi-Annual conferences including “Crossing the Trestles”, “State of the HART”, and “Emerging Practices”. Randy’s vision is to achieve a high quality, lifespan mental health service for individuals with intellectual disabilities and complex mental health needs.

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Dr. Gerry Kysela is the Clinical Director of the Family Centred Practices Group, which offers preschool Early Intensive Behaviour Intervention programs for children diagnosed on the ASD continuum. Gerry came to BC from Alberta where he was a Professor in Educational Psychology for 28 years specializing in the fields of Early Intervention and Child and Family Development. He moved to BC to assist the government in the start of two of the Early Intensive Behaviour Intervention programs in Delta and in the Okanagan region. He completed his education at the University of Waterloo and is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Pat Mirenda is a Professor in the Dept. of Educational and Counseling Psychology and Special Education at the University of British Columbia. She lectures widely and teaches UBC courses in the areas of autism, positive behavior support, augmentative communication and developmental disabilities. She has published numerous research articles and chapters related to autism, and has recently completed a 3-year evaluation of the impact of early intervention for children with autism in BC.

Shannon Muir is a Speech-Language Pathologist who has worked in private practice for the past seven years, first in Kamloops, and now in North and West Vancouver, providing direct therapy and consulting services to people with autism and their caregivers. Shannon received her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from the University of Alberta in Edmonton and a BA in Applied Linguistics from University of Victoria.

Minda Neptuno is a co-founder of Families and Friends Autism Foundation, a not-for-profit organization for the benefit of persons with autism in Mackenzie and neighboring towns in Northern BC and serves as a member of the Board of International Autism Foundation. Minda is a registered social worker in BC and has a degree in education. Her social work experiences include child protection and community living services. She has worked as a teacher in the Sultanate of Brunei and served as social worker for De La Salle University in the Philippines. Minda has written a collection of music scores entitled "39 North", to raise funds for the benefit of Families and Friends Autism Foundation and International Autism Foundation. Currently, Minda works as program coordinator for Greater Vancouver Autism Tutorial Services, a post-secondary teaching service for high school graduates with autism. Minda has a 19 year old son with autism.

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Aisha Sawchuk completed her B.A. in Psychology, while researching and writing about ASD diagnosis and treatment after learning of her daughter's diagnosis in 2002. She also has a son with ADD. Aisha was parent facilitator of the ASBC Cowichan Valley Autism Community Group in 2001/2002. She was recently Program Coordinator of Community Education and Mental Health Peer Support for the Canadian Mental Health Association - Cowichan Valley Branch. Aisha co-ordinated a very successful Mental Health Speaker Series in 2003/2004 and has assisted in organizing numerous events, seminars, and conferences. As well as management consulting, Aisha is currently employed with Community Programming at Malaspina University-College, Cowichan Campus.

Jo-Anne Seip is the Administrator for the Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders and is the chair of the Autism Council of BC, past president of the University Affiliated Programs, Council for Exceptional Children and a recipient of the CEC international award of excellence for outstanding programming in career education for the handicapped. Jo-Anne has designed and offered courses in ASD through UBC, UVIC and SFU. She has a Masters Degree in Special Education, has written and coauthored a number of articles and textbooks on educating students with autism and lectures extensively throughout North America.

Sue Wastie is a BC Registered, Canadian Certified, Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) who also holds a Masters degree in Education. Since 1996, Sue has been the Senior SLP for Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and is responsible for supervising and coordinating program planning for a team of 20 SLPs providing early assessment and therapy for infants, toddlers and preschool children who live in Vancouver. Sue also has a part-time private practice serving school-age children with a variety of communication disorders including language-based learning disorders secondary to autism and deaf/hard of hearing. Recently, Sue developed a internet-based learning module to provide orientation and updates on the autism assessment and diagnostic process for healthcare employees of VCH. She is also one of the first professionals in BC trained to use the STAT (Screening Tool for Autism in Two-Year-Olds). Since 1997, Sue has been honourary Clinical Assistant Professor at UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, School of Audiology and Speech Sciences. In 2004, Sue was awarded the Honours of the BC Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists.

Carol Ywan started the Mandarin-speaking Parent Support Group in 1999, after her son received a diagnosis of ASD diagnosis in 1998. Carol worked as the Information and Referral Worker at Autism Society of BC from 2003 - 2004. Currently Carol is Individualized Funding Coordinator/Information & Referral Worker at the Delta Assoc. for Child Development. She has a MA from Michigan State Univ.

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