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ISAND Reacts to Minassian Verdict

It is with some relief that Justice Anne Molloy ruled against the Not Criminally Responsible (NCR) plea used by the defence of John Doe (Alex Minassian) because of his ASD diagnosis. John Doe was found guilty today of all charges laid against him for the April 2018 van attack in Toronto in which ten people were killed and sixteen others wounded.

We hope that today’s verdict brings some measure of closure to the families of the victims.

The defence team argued that Mr. Doe, did not know that his actions were morally wrong. In her sixty eight (68) page verdict, Justice Molloy was clearly of the opinion that Mr. Doe thought about the crimes he was going to commit, put in significant planning and considered the consequences of his actions. “Mr. Doe, understands that death is permanent. He understood the impact that his actions would have on his family and the families of his victims. He knew that what he was planning do to was morally wrong by society’s standards”, said Justice Molloy when presenting her verdict.

Although a measure of justice has been served, many in the autism community are concerned about the lasting impact of the defence strategy. Incorrect perceptions about people on the spectrum lacking empathy, or being violent were somehow reinforced by the defence tactics and the media coverage. The fact that Mr. Doe’s on-line radicalization, his quest to be famous, and his misogyny were the significant factors behind his crimes, may, unfortunately, be overshadowed by his diagnosis of ASD.

It’s up to each and every one of us to take every opportunity that we have to inform the public of the real factors behind these horrific accidents.

ISAND nominated for 2020 International Peace Award

The International Peace Awards, presented by the Gandian Initiative for Development of Support Services (GIDSS), aim to promote Peace, Harmony and Community Service around the world. There are thousands of people around the world who are dedicating their lives to help the needy and marginalized groups without any personal gain. Through these awards, their efforts will be acknowledged and brought before others to inspire similar initiatives.

ISAND has been nominated for this prestigious award in the category of Disability Empowerment in recognition of our adaptability in providing services during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Winners to be announced at the awards ceremony to be held January 2, 2021.

Visit by MP Ali Ehsassi

On Wednesday December 9, 2020 Ali Ehsassi, Member of Parliament Willowdale, came to ISAND for a tour and to provide us with four bags of PPE. Mr. Ehsassi, a supporter of ISAND and the work that we do provided us with mask, hand sanitizer, Canadian Flags, and a Certificate thanking and acknowledging ISAND for our role in helping families by providing leading edge therapy to children, youth and adults with ASD.

Employable Me

Three time karting champion, Austin Riley, the first professional race car driver with autism spectrum disorder sat down with ISAND’s world renowned developmental paediatrician, Dr. Wendy Roberts, to talk about his career as race car driver. The interview was filmed and will be part of an episode of season four of Employable Me, which airs on TVO and AMI. (The date of airing is not confirmed, but likely sometime in April 2021).

Austin has placed high in many races including winning first place in a Saleen Cup race at Portland International Speedway in 2019. He is living proof of his own famous saying that, Just because you have Autism, it doesn’t mean you can’t do great things. For more information on Austin and his acer, visit www.racingwithautism.com.

ISAND disturbed by defence strategy in Minassian trial

The 28-year-old man, accused of killing 10 and injuring 16 after driving a van down Toronto’s Yonge Street in 2018 over the course of several minutes, has pleaded not criminally responsible to the charges.

Through his lawyers, Alek Minassian has pleaded not criminally responsible for his actions that day claiming that because of his Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis, Mr. Minassian’s way of thinking is “severely distorted in a way similar to psychosis”, stated Dr. Rebecca Chauhan in a Toronto Star article.

At ISAND we believe this statement to be erroneous and damaging to the thousands of people living with ASD in the GTA. Minassian agrees that he intended to kill, that the murders were planned and deliberate, and that he in fact did cause the death of those people. To say that people with ASD lack the emotional awareness to understand that it is wrong to kill people is both wildly inaccurate and extremely dangerous.

ISAND embraces the uniqueness of everyone and believe that every person with ASD, given the right supports, can and should feel welcomed in their community.

This defence strategy perpetuates harmful stereotypes about people with ASD. In fact, research has shown that persons with who are very intelligent and have ASD tend to be law abiding, highly moral and are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.

Mr. Minassian does in fact have Autism Spectrum Disorder, however we believe that diagnosis has nothing do with his pre-meditated actions on that April day in 2018. From the court reports, it appears that most of the experts called for both the defence and the crown agree. Dr. John Bradford, a Canadian Forensic Psychiatrist called by the defence stated under oath that that Mr. Minassian showed ritualistic behaviours, but not delusional behaviour or psychosis. In Dr. Bradford’s opinion, the ASD diagnosis does not allow Mr. Minassian to be found Not Criminally Responsible.

We hope that the judge rejects the defence arguments, and allows Mr. Minassian to be judged on his actions, not on a falsely misleading theory based on his diagnosis of ASD.

Zoono Services Providing Disinfection and Ongoing Active Protection to ISAND

In our ongoing efforts to protect clients and staff at ISAND, our space needs to be disinfected to help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses – including COVID-19. 

Stepping up to help is Neil Lathangue and David Riabov from Zoono Services (https://zoonoservices.ca) approached ISAND offering to provide treatment and protection at our site for free. Zoono services is recognized as North America’s leader in environmental cleaning and infection control. Local clients include Centennial College, Sienna Seniors Living, St. Michael’s hospital, and University of Toronto.

The science:  Zoono treatment provides for 30 day protection – providing protection beyond the next touch. When applied to a surface, Zoono’s Microbe Shield product leaves behind a layer that bonds to the surface. These antimicrobial molecules create positively charged “pins” attracting the negatively charged bacteria and viruses, and then destroying them. The treatment is harmful to the pathogens, but not to humans!

The process: Areas are swabbed before treatment to determine the pathogen levels. After the area is fogged, it is swabbed again and levels are recorded. Throughout the 30 days, regular testing is completed to ensure that the pathogens haven’t returned.

THANK YOU

Neil, David and Zoono Services

For your generous contribution to ISAND

ISAND Appoints New Board Chair

Toronto, ON (March 25, 2020) – Integrated Services for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ISAND) is very pleased to announce the appointment of Tina Capobianco as Board Chair effective March 24, 2020. Tina is Senior Vice president at JD Factors in Mississauga. JD Factors is a leader in Accounts Receivable Factoring providing large and small businesses a broad range of services, including assistance with their cash flow needs.  The Mississauga office is one of four North American Operations Centres.

Tina holds a BA (Honours) from the University of Toronto and the designation of Certified Account Executive in Factoring (CAEF). Tina has been a long-time supporter of ISAND and was appointed to the ISAND Board of Directors in June 2018.  

“We are very pleased to have Tina accept the position of the Board Chair. Her understanding of the organization, enthusiastic dedication to our aims, and her ongoing support of ISAND are greatly appreciated and will help to drive the agency forward” said Bob Butella, Executive Director.

Tina has replaced Mike Moran, a long standing Board Member and Chair of the Board since 2016. Mike has played a pivotal role in the development and success of ISAND. Mike will maintain a seat on the Board of Directors and will assume the position of Past Chair.

“As an organization, we have benefitted so much from Mike’s leadership and would like to thank him for his efforts and successes in the role”, states Tina Capobianco. “As the incoming Chair, I’m also very happy to know that Mike will continue his involvement with the Board of Directors”.

About ISAND

ISAND is a registered non-profit organization that serves children, youth and young adults living with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. ISAND’s integrated team of clinicians represent nine distinct disciplines including: developmental paediatrics; clinical psychology; behaviour therapy; occupational therapy; speech and language therapy; social work; nutrition; rhythmic movement; and education. ISAND’s scientific advisory panel assists with research leading to enhanced program development. Our unique multi-disciplinary (integrated) approach to services leads to enhanced outcomes for clients and their families. For more information, visit www.isand.ca

PDF version is available here

Event Gallery – Gala

Hosts Robyn and Dave Way welcomed more than 150 guests to the second annual Courts and Cocktails Gala on November 1, 2019 at the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club in support of ISAND, Autism Dog Services and Special Olympics. Guests enjoyed an evening of tennis, dancing to the music of “Fool Hearts”, cocktails, wine tasting, silent auction and mingling.

We would like to sincerely thank Robyn, Dave, the rest of the organizers and sponsors for putting on this event. ISAND is fortunate to receive $30,000 from the night to help support our services and programs.

ISAND Appoints New Executive Director

TORONTO, ON (July 10, 2019) — Following a comprehensive search, the Board of Directors of Integrated Services for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ISAND) is pleased to announce the appointment of Bob Butella to the position of Executive Director, effective July 15, 2019.

Bob brings more than 25 years of senior management experience in the health and human services sector to his new role. For the past four years, Bob has served as Executive Director of the Sunbeam Centre, a multi-site organization that provides residential care, day programming, and other services for people with developmental, physical, and emotional impairments living in Waterloo Region. While with the Sunbeam Centre, Bob achieved significant growth in the number of people served and also expanded service options, including enhanced service options for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Immediately prior to his role at the Sunbeam Centre, Bob was the Executive Director of Community Living Guelph Wellington.

“We are excited to have Bob join ISAND to lead us in the next phase of our development,” says Mike Moran, ISAND Board Chair. “He has a solid understanding of the sector and a strong commitment to supporting families living with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.”

“I am thrilled to be joining ISAND at such an important time in its development and growth and look forward to working with a highly respected team known for their expertise and experience,” says Bob.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, we also want to express our deepest appreciation to David Gray for serving as our Executive Director and leading ISAND through an important time in our history, says Mike Moran. “You have done a tremendous amount for ISAND and all the families we support. We wish you all the very best”.

PDF version is available here