SAINT JOHN (CNB) – Christian Whalen, acting child and youth advocate, is encouraging families to contact his office if they have concerns about services available to autistic children.

He extended this invitation while attending the third annual Art for Autism showcase, held at the Community Autism Centre in Saint John. The event showcased the artistic ability of youths diagnosed with autism.

"It is wonderful to see so many families and friends here with so much to celebrate,” said Whalen. “We want to be more accessible and responsive in our efforts to defend the interests and rights of all children and youth, especially those living with autism."

The centre is a non-profit, community-based organization helping persons and their families living with autism spectrum disorder. More than 800 families use the centre.

"I am thrilled to see the support and care that the centre continues to provide for families living with autism spectrum disorder," said Whalen. "It is also inspiring to see so many young people express themselves so vividly in these drawings and canvasses. Disabilities no longer seem disabling when children are given the opportunity and are encouraged to express themselves freely and creatively.”

Debbie McDonald, executive director, Community Autism Centre Inc., said the event was an opportunity to celebrate the contributions that autistic children can make.

"With a single focus and an eye for detail, these young artists give our community the opportunity to see the world through their eyes," said McDonald. "One of our young artists said it best: ‘Come see what I do!’ That was the real message for this year's event."