ASC names Parent as this year’s ambassador
by Tania Piperni
Rachelle Parent is a kind-hearted 24-year-old woman, an advocate for people on the autism spectrum and this year’s ambassador for the Autism Speaks Canada Montreal Walk.
Parent was diagnosed with autism at the age of 17. She attends an adult education school in the West Island, where she continues to enhance her social skills and important life skills such as budgeting and balancing mental and physical health. She enjoys making oral presentations and incorporates interesting photos. Parent likes to learn languages and is almost fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), which she learned so that she could communicate with her school friend who only uses ASL. She hopes to work at the Montreal Oral School for the Deaf to help teach ASL to young children. She also enjoys baking, cooking, jewellery making, piano playing, card making, crocheting and drawing.
Parent has attended the Montreal walks for six years and enjoys the planned activities, seeing people like herself and talking to others. This year she sold bracelets at school during World Autism Month in April and is looking forward to seeing her family and friends that will be coming out to the walk to support her in her new role.
“Being the ambassador means a lot to me. I feel proud to have been chosen and to be a role model to help spread awareness,” said Parent, seeing this as an opportunity to take on a leadership role to raise awareness. It is also a new journey for her to increase social skills, express herself more, and provide an experience for her to shine.
Parent’s message to others with autism is “Take it one day at a time. Make sure you set goals and be proud of yourself after. I had many challenges and struggles, sometimes my anxiety takes over me but going for a walk and music help. Sometimes it is challenging but I try to always think positively. Now people understand me and accept me for who I am,” she said.
When she found out she was autistic, she wanted to understand it more and sought help from her parents, Martin Parent and Sylvia Wong. Now she is an advocate for herself as well as for others. As her father explained, “Knowing she has autism provides a framework for what her journey has been like and what it will continue to be.”
Autism Speaks Canada has helped the Parent family understand the journey of an autistic person and nurture Parent’s tremendous gifts, and provided a positive space on an ongoing basis. Rachelle Parent is honoured to be this year’s ambassador at the Montreal Walk.
The Autism Speaks Canada Montreal Walk will take place on June 12, 2022 in the Dawson College Courtyard. Register at www.ascWalk.ca.
Tania Piperni, M.Ed is an autism spectrum disorder consultant at the English Montreal School Board.