Tuesday, September 27, 2016

3rd Annual Salon de L'Autisme TSA du Québec

Three years ago, two mothers decided to take matters into their own hands and make things happen to help people with autism and their families. Johanne Leduc, president of the Salon and author of the book La sufferance des envahis, has two children that have autism. Sylvie Le Guerrier, vice-president, is a mother to two children, and is highly invested in helping families that have children with autism to more easily access resources.

Johanne Leduc, Anne-Marie Le Gouill, and Sylvie Le Guerrier.
These mothers didn't know what they were going to achieve when they set out to host their first Salon in 2013, but the results are clear. They organize important events, both in Laval and in Levis (March 31 and April 1, 2017), where parents, families, friends, professionals, people with autism, therapist, and the public-at-large can come to celebrate autism, learn about it, and find the resources they have been looking for and perhaps didn't even know existed.

At a press conference at Place Forzani in Laval on September 27, Leduc and Le Guerrier told the media that this year's Salon welcomes 115 exhibitors and 25 presenters (including Inspirations contributor Emmanuelle Assor). It will include features for everyone, and as Le Guerrier explained, "You don't have to have autism to attend. There is something for everyone."

Other features of the Salon will include a 'Play Corner' furnished by Kit Planete, a 'Halte Repos' where quiet and sensory tools to aid relaxation can be found, an artists section where attendees can meet artists with autism, admire and purchase the extraordinary creations. Some of our favourites - Remrov and The Big Blue Hug, will be there. In fact, Remrov is the Salon's Honorary Artist. Congratulation, Remrov! This year's art expo features an artist who is only six years old.

MNA Francine Charbonneau, a cut out of Laurent Ciman, and Jean-François Lisée.
Quebec government representatives Lucie Charlebois, Member for Soulanges and Minister for Rehabilitation, Youth Protection, Public Health and Healthy Living, Francine Charbonneau, Member for Mille-Îles and Minister responsible for Seniors and Anti-Bullying, and Jean-François Lisée, Member for Rosemount, were in attendance to support the work of Leduc and Le Guerrier. Charlebois spoke about the importance of providing access to diagnosis, improved access to services for both children and adults, and increased quality of services.

Participants at the Salon D'Autisme press conference at Place Forzani.
There is a tremendous team behind the Salon, including spokesperson Frédérique Dufort who is a comedian,writer, and sibling to a brother with autism. Honorary President Laurent Ciman, Montreal Impact star, was not able to attend the press conference. The organizers wanted his presence to be felt, so brought along a life-size cut out of him! His wife Diana spoke on his behalf. The event runs smoothly with the help of over 75 volunteers.

Leduc and Le Guerrier are doing tremendous work. But they did not feel they were doing quite enough. The press conference was a perfect opportunity to introduce their fundraising initiative: La foundation un pas à la fois pour l'autisme. Funds raised through the foundation will help non-profit organizations with special projects, help families with a child or adult with autism. Projects to be awarded will selected by a committee. The first recipient is parent and '2016 Salon Personality' Anne-Marie Le Gouill.

The Salon takes place at Place Forzani in Laval on September 30 and October 1 from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, 4855, Louis-B. Mayer, Laval, Quebec. For information visit www.salondelautismetsa.com.