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Our History

Kerry’s Place Autism Services has been committed to enhancing the quality of life for autistic persons since 1974.

a White House surrounded by trees with green and red leaves

In 1974, the O’Neil family courageously opened their doors to a handful of teenagers on the autism spectrum. In partnership with the Ministry of Health, the O’Neil family’s Clarksburg, Ontario community rallied to support them in those humble beginnings.

The O’Neil’s vision was to change how these teenagers were supported. Through unwavering loyalty and tenacious determination, Val and Ann O’Neil and other founding families established a powerful movement that became the catalyst for change in the understanding and support of autistic persons. Together, they formed the Ontario Society for Autistic Children out of their concern that the educational and residential systems for the mentally handicapped were not meeting the needs of autistic persons approaching adolescence and adulthood.

Kerry’s Place was incorporated as a non-profit, non-share Ontario corporation in 1984. The program and corporate names were chosen in honour of the O’Neil’s daughter, Kerry, one of the original residents.

Five decades later, Kerry’s Place has grown to serve over 6,000 people of all ages and their families with a broad continuum of specialized autism supports and services across the Peel/Halton, Dufferin, Durham, York/Simcoe, Toronto and Hastings regions.

It is because of the extraordinary dedication and effort of our community members, supported persons, family members, staff, volunteers, advocates and partners that we can help autistic persons of every age reach their highest potential. Also, the addition of our community outreach services allows us to support and consult autistic persons who live at home – meaning we have grown to serve a greater number and wider range of autistic Ontarians and their families over our fifty years.

To learn more about how far we’ve come, read our 45-Year Reflection.

Governance

Kerry’s Place is governed by a voluntary board of directors representing various fields of expertise. They view community involvement as integral to the organization’s philosophy and strategic planning.

Our board of directors is made up of a diverse group of professionals who bring with them experience and knowledge in areas such as finance, journalism, education, business, law, marketing and human resources.

Each director is committed to continuing to help all Canadians overcome the stereotypes and misunderstandings about Autism Spectrum Disorder and create appropriate environments and supports and services which enable autistic persons of all ages to thrive.

Land Acknowledgement

We would like to acknowledge the lands we are on today, and which Kerry’s Place Autism Services operates, as part of the Treaty Lands and Territory of Treaty 13, 1805 and the Williams Treaty, 1923, that the Haudenosaunee, Anishinabewaki, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Mississauga and the Wendake-Nionwentsïo treaties cover. Indigenous peoples inhabited and cared for this land for thousands of years and continue to do so today. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land and by doing so, commit to continuous learning and reflection on the importance of traditional peoples in the history of Canada.