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“Mom, I’m really happy today.”

Is this for real? I think to myself. I’m picking my son up, all I said is hi (I didn’t even have to ask how he is!) and he’s responding to me with the biggest smile on his face saying, “Mom, I’m really happy today.” I couldn’t believe it.

This moment was really meaningful to me because after all these years, Eric never said anything about his feelings. Never. I even forgot to respond because I was so shocked!

My name is Wei and I am the proud mom of Eric, my 19-year old son who has autism. Canucks Autism Network (CAN) programs have been our safe space for the past 10 years. We first registered Eric for a CAN program when he was 9 and a half, and I would like to share our journey with you.

As a mom of an Autistic child, I live every day with anxiety and it’s very draining – constantly feeling like you have to defend your child, yourself, and your family. When these negative feelings build up, it’s very hard to focus on anything else.

But every time I send Eric to a CAN program, I feel relaxed, at peace, and I trust that he is in a safe space. I get a break from always being on high-awareness. From music to sports to job-readiness programs, I know that Eric is always surrounded by positive support when he is with CAN and he always comes home happier.

This is a photo of the first time Eric ever asked me to take a picture with him. He’s usually very resistant to taking photos but he was so proud of himself for graduating from CAN’s Employment Program that he wanted to share it with me.

This special moment will always remind me of a change in Eric that I never thought I would see. I will remember this for the rest of my life.

Every gift will help cover the true cost of ~$500/participant in a multi-week youth and young adult program.

Your generosity will help build a bright and happy future for someone like Eric.

Many of the skills that Eric has learned through CAN programs, he has been able to apply in real life. He is now curious about what’s going on, he takes more responsibility and he even does chores like putting things away, setting up the table, and helping to carry things. He is more happy, calm, and soft. He’ll say sorry to me, he’ll ask me if I’m okay, and I can just tell he is more caring. I finally feel loved by my only child and we have become so much closer.

Having CAN as a safe space has helped us to grow confident when we go out in the community too because I can generalize these feelings of trust, safety, and happiness to different areas of my life. When I feel emotionally safe, that’s when I’m able to open up mentally to more positive experiences. It’s been very inspiring to watch Eric live life with so much more joy and laughter, and I really believe that he has a bright future ahead of him.

I believe we are stronger together.

With your support, you will help more families like mine access this safe space too. This will make a meaningful difference, and I thank you so much in advance for your consideration.


Wei Zheng

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