Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in local volunteer organizations, including as a current member and former vice-president of Autism Yukon.
She is now set to take her skills to a new volunteer role as part of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment.
Members of the 12-member panel were recently named, with Chua-Tan taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group.
In a statement, the CAHS said the assessment will provide evidence and recommendations to inform the creation of a national autism strategy.
“An essential cornerstone is significant engagement that will leverage participation of autistic individuals, families, stakeholders and key national, local and grassroots organizations to support consultation on a wide range of issues including economic inclusion (in particular employment and housing), social inclusion, and evidence-based intervention and therapies,” CAHS said, going on to note that nearly 150 applied to be part of the panel.
Panel members were chosen by CAHS’ assessment and scientific affairs committee with the selection based on expertise and credibility.
“Diversity within the oversight panel and working groups was also a key consideration and is represented through a balance in gender, age, geography and more,” it’s noted.
Stakeholder input into the assessment is expected to happen in the coming months.
“All members have been asked to keep an open mind to all the evidence and information that will come in front of them as well as pay special attention to the input to be provided by stakeholders (especially autistic people) during the engagement process,” the statement from CAHS reads.
A brief biography of Chua-Tan notes she is the mother of a functional, non-verbal 30-year-old autistic son who’s an accomplished athlete.
Chua-Tan has written a book about her experience as mother of an international medalist and the first special needs athlete from the Yukon to qualify for two seasonal sports (skiing and swimming) at the Special Olympic World Games.
It goes on to note she is a successful entrepreneur, developer and real estate agent and highlights her involvement with a number of volunteer organizations and non-profits, including Autism Yukon.
“As a true advocate for autistics and parents of autistic children, Ms. Chua-Tan understands the challenges that parents of autistics face, particularly with school systems and adult services,” it reads. “She is currently conducting motivational workshops to share the power of goal setting and of hope.”
Also named to the panel are panel chair Dr. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, panel vice-chairs Aaron Bouma and Mélanie Couture, social inclusion working group chair Tara Flanagan, interventions working group chair Dr. Keiko Shikako-Thomas, interventions working group vice-chair Dr. Stelios Georgiades, economic inclusion working group chair Dr. David Nicholas, economic inclusion working group vice-chair Jackie Barrett along with members at large Dr. Laurent Mottron, Dr. Caroline Tait and Mark Chapeskie.
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