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Ausome Ottawa announces it's shutting down, the second non-profit in a week


Two Ottawa non-profits, both serving the autism community, have suddenly closed their doors within the past week, leaving parents with fewer supports in the city.

"It was there for us through a really difficult time trying to navigate the whole world of raising a child on the autism spectrum and making sure that he had the best experience possible through his early childhood," said parent Ashley Oakey.

Whether it was gymnastics or summer camp Ashley Oakey says Ausome Ottawa was there. Helping thousands of children with autism, like her 10-year-old son Cole, participate in sports for a small fee.

"There are just not a lot of inclusive programming and nothing like Ausome. So it's not like Ausome went away, now we can rely on something else — there is nothing else," said Oakey.

On Tuesday, after nine years, Ausome Ottawa announced online it was shutting down.

"This year to date, Ausome has received half of the funding it received in the same period last year. That's simply not enough — not even close. With inflation making the cost to operate more expensive and charitable giving to small charities on the decline, we can't see a path forward," co-founder Liisa Vexler wrote.

Jonathan Crone and his son Kieran raised thousands of dollars for Ausome Ottawa through their woodworking business, after his son aged-out.

The closure is now putting pressure on other organizations to fill the gap.

"It really puts parents and their kids in a difficult position. The waitlist situation is almost impossible to quantify because the waitlists are for activities, for programming, for support programs," said Crone.

"Ausome did the responsible thing by shutting their program down while they still had money to pay their employees the final, final pay, there's going to be organizations that may not be able to do that."

Ausome Ottawa is the second organization to announce its closure within a week. Thinking in Pictures Educational Services announced its sudden closure on Friday.

"This Ottawa situation is one that actually has surprised and shocked all of us here at Autism Ontario, especially two organizations within one city, within one region. This isn't something that we're tending to see on a regular basis," said Ola Kusnierz with Autism Ottawa.

According to the Ontario Autism Coalition, more than 67,000 children are registered to receive funding from the province, but only 14,000 have received money within the last six years for core therapy.

The recent closures means even fewer options for parents like Oakey.

"There's next to no inclusive programming that's readily and easily accessible, especially for his age group now," she said.

If parents are looking for support, Autism Ontario says resources are available on its website Top Stories

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