Skip to main content

Montreal's Giant Steps school celebrates World Autism Awareness Day


Students from Giant Steps school in Montreal took part in a special parade Tuesday to mark World Autism Awareness Day.

The annual event is a mobile, musical party calling for autism awareness and inclusion.

"It's for people to know to include our kids and to embrace them for their gifts," said Stella Tzintis, whose son Billy is 11 years old and on the autism spectrum.

"He's exceptional. He's a star. Very smart," she said. "He's just a ball of fire and love and positive energy."

Irene Medeira's son Alex is turning seven soon and also is a student at Giant Steps school, which offers highly individualized and holistic learning for the specific needs of its students.

"It's peace. It's relief. It's knowing that your son is in a place that he's well taken care of. All the therapies are in one place. And, you know, truly, it's a family," she said.

Families are asking for that kind of acceptance and inclusivity everywhere.

"People on the spectrum are just people and they have feelings and they have thoughts. Some can express themselves better. But really, if you have any kind of patience, any of the attachment that you can feel for anybody on the spectrum is something special," said the school's president Steven Schneidman.

To build awareness, Giant Steps has been doing outreach work at the Bell Centre, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and with Montreal police.

"(There are) prevention programs in order for them to have the abilities to remain safe in today's society because some are independent, they take the public transport and it's important that they are aware of the surroundings," said Fatma Pereira at Station 44 of the Montreal police service.

On Tuesday night, families from Giant Steps school will be at the Bell Centre for the Montreal Canadiens game. Both anthems will be sung by inclusion advocate Steven Abadi as the Canadiens hockey club implements new initiatives for Autism Awareness Month. Top Stories

Stay Connected