People with neurodiverse backgrounds and their families and caregivers experience daily challenges in keeping themselves safe when navigating their local and surrounding communities. Join us for this free community forum, moderated by the Community, Partnership and Innovation Department with SMILE Canada and the Toronto Police Service, as professionals, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, family members and caregivers come together to gain a better understanding of community safety needs from a culturally sensitive perspective.  

The goal of this forum is to engage in dialogue and develop practical solutions to improve community safety through knowledge exchange. Everyone will teach and everyone will learn, including the professionals mediating the conversation. Neurodiverse people and their families/caregivers are encouraged to share barriers and strategies to support building a community of trust.  Professionals from community organizations may also offer strategies to enhance personal safety and advocate for culturally sensitive support.  

For technical or registration support, contact Alicia Gonen at or call 416-209-0966.

Why Join?

Participants will learn about some of the challenges that clients encounter in keeping themselves safe when navigating their communities as well as strategies to enhance their safety. The discussion will focus on sharing the experiences of clients and caregivers who are newcomers to Canada, have disabilities (including IDD, ASD, etc.) or who have encountered other barriers impacting their safe community engagement. Challenges that these clients and their families/caregivers experience during interpersonal interactions with community agencies, authority figures, etc. will be highlighted. Strategies to meaningfully engage with various community organizations to enhance personal safety and promote positive outcomes for everyone involved will also be shared. 

This forum is part of a series to raise awareness and build knowledge about the lived experiences of people with physical, emotional, or culturally diverse characteristics. Check out the previous event in the series Visions of Hope: Perfect Just as We Are. 

About Surrey Place’s Community, Partnership and Innovation Department

The Community, Partnership and Innovation Department aims to reduce disparities driven by social, racial and economic inequalities and improve access to clinically appropriate care. We work to cultivate a high-performance organizational culture through education, research and long-lasting partnership building. 

Our goals include raising awareness and building knowledge from those who have lived experiences due to physical, emotional and social differences. We regularly host spotlight series featuring key guest speakers with lived experiences to share their life journeys.


Marya Bangash

Education and Outreach Coordinator at SMILE Canada – Support Services  

Marya Bangash is the Education and Outreach Coordinator at SMILE Canada – Support Services. She is a first-year student at York University. Marya is co-chair for the Holland Bloorview Youth Advisory Council and a Social Media Influencer who dedicates her time and energy to disability advocacy. Her work includes spreading advocacy and hosting presentations, workshops, and community conversations with community leaders, universities, hospitals, and various institutions on the importance of culturally responsive accessible support for racialized children and youth with disabilities.  

Kim Daniel

Director of Community Partnerships and Innovation at Surrey Place

Kim Daniel, M.Ed., PhD., received her Ph.D. from McGill University in an APA/CPA accredited Counselling Psychology program, where she developed her skills in research and clinical work. She completed her residency at Surrey Place, working with individuals with different developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She also completed a postdoctoral clinical fellowship at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, working in the Pediatric Clinical/Health Psychology and Behavioural Medicine Division with both in-patients and out-patients. 

Patrice de Peiza

Manager of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility at Surrey Place

Patrice is a registered Occupational Therapist (OT) with a passion for equity, diversity and inclusion work. She earned a Masters degree from the University of Toronto (where she also belongs to an anti-oppression educator’s group) and completed a diversity and inclusion certificate program through Cornell University. Patrice has lectured on anti-Black racism and allyship in academic and healthcare settings provincially and nationally.  She founded the Black Occupational Therapists of Ontario Association (, to create a safe space for Black OTs to share their experiences. Patrice also serves on the Equity Perspectives Panel for the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario.    

Alicia Gonen

Transitional Services Facilitator at Surrey Place  

Alicia Gonen has worked with marginalized populations of diverse backgrounds in the nonprofit sector since 2009. Her professional experience includes; working for a mentorship program, exit gang program, autism program, employment initiative, and parenting training for neurodiverse individuals. Alicia is a Board Member for Lakeshore Arts in Toronto to support their Equity, Diversity and Inclusion planning and implementation. She received her Masters of Education with an emphasis in Applied Behaviour Analysis from Western University in 2015. She has supported individuals with IDD, mental health issues, and dual diagnoses in their effort to become more active members of their communities.  

Nida Khan

Director of Research and Education at SMILE Canada – Support Services  

Nida Khan is the Director of Research and Education at SMILE Canada – Support Services. She holds a Masters of Public Policy and Administration with a concentration in Social Change Leadership. Her academic background includes research on the impacts of Emotional Intelligence training for Law Enforcement Officers in order to reduce instances of police brutality against marginalized populations. She is a visible Muslim woman with a disability and strongly advocates for the rights of underserved populations in Canada.  

Mark McCabe  

Vulnerable Persons Coordinator – Community Partnership and Engagement Unit, Toronto Police Service  

Mark McCabe has been a police officer with Toronto Police since 2005.  After completing training at the Ontario Police College, Mark was transferred to 41 Division in Scarborough. At 41 Division, he worked in the primary response and traffic response units. He then spent six years in the Community Relations and Crime Prevention unit. During that time, he started a number of crime prevention initiatives.  In March 2020 Mark was assigned as the Vulnerable Persons Coordinator at the Community Partnership and Engagement Unit of Toronto Police.  Mark has received numerous letters of recognition for his work in the community.  

Raian Othman

Director of Service Navigation at SMILE Canada – Support Services

Raian Othman is the Director of Service Navigation at SMILE Canada – Support Services. Her academic background includes work in psychology with postgraduate studies in infant and early childhood mental health. Raian dedicates her personal and professional time to advocating for culturally responsive mental health promotion and preventative measures for racialized members in the community.  


SMILE Canada – Support Services 

SMILE Canada is a charity dedicated to supporting racialized children and youth with disabilities and their families. SMILE’s focus is diverse Muslim communities including refugee and immigrant families. Our vision is to ensure that all children & youth are smiling, by supporting families through various programs and services in a culturally responsive manner.   

Community Partnership and Engagement Unit of the Toronto Police Service 

The Toronto Police Service’s ‘Community Partnerships and Engagement Unit’ (CPEU) is divided into 3 major sections: Community Engagement, Neighbourhood Policing, and Community Services. CPEU also oversees the Youth in Policing Initiative (YIPI), and the Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics Ontario. The unit continuously works on developing, enhancing, and maintaining constructive community partnerships.    

Contact Information

For technical or registration support, contact Alicia Gonen at or call 416-209-0966.
For inquiries about future events, contact Patrice de Peiza at

By 2 months

Has your baby had their hearing screened? YES NO

By 6 months

Does the child?

Startle in response to loud noises? YES NO
Turn to where a sound is coming from? YES NO
Make different cries for different needs (hungry, tired)? YES NO
Watch your face as you talk? YES NO
Smile/laugh in response to your smiles and laughs? YES NO
Imitate coughs or other sounds such as ah, eh, buh YES NO

By 9 months

Does the child?

Respond to their name? YES NO
Respond to the telephone ringing or a knock at the door? YES NO
Understand being told no? YES NO
Get what they want through using gestures (reaching to be picked up)? YES NO
Play social games with you (Peek-a-Boo)? YES NO
Enjoy being around people? YES NO
Babble and repeat sounds such as babababa or duhduhduh? YES NO

By 12 months

Does the child?

Follow simple one-step directions (sit down)? YES NO
Look across the room to a toy when adult points at it? YES NO
Consistently use three to five words? YES NO
Use gestures to communicate (waves hi/bye, shakes head for no)? YES NO
Get your attention using sounds, gestures and pointing while looking at your eyes? YES NO
Bring you toys to show you? YES NO
Perform for social attention and praise? YES NO
Combine lots of sounds together as though talking (abada baduh abee)? YES NO
Show an interest in simple picture books? YES NO

By 18 months

Does the child?

Understand the meaning of in and out, off and on? YES NO
Point to more than 2 body parts when asked? YES NO
Use at least 20 words consistently? YES NO
Respond with words or gestures to simple questions (Where's teddy? What's that?)? YES NO
Demonstrate some pretend play with toys (gives teddy bear a drink, pretends a bowl is a hat)? YES NO
Make at least four different consonant sounds (p ,b, m, n, d, g, w, h)? YES NO
Enjoy being read to and sharing simple books with you? YES NO
Point to pictures using one finger? YES NO

By 2 years

Does the child?

Follow two-step directions (Go find your teddy bear and show it to Grandma.)? YES NO
Use 100 to 150 words? YES NO
Use at least two pronouns (you, me, mine)? YES NO
Consistently combine two to four words in short phrases (Daddy hat. Truck go down.)? YES NO
Enjoy being around other children? YES NO
Begin to offer toys to other children and imitate other children's actions and words? YES NO
Use words that are understood by others 50 to 60 per cent of the time? YES NO
Form words or sounds easily and without effort? YES NO
Hold books the right way up and turn the pages? YES NO
Read to stuffed animals or toys? YES NO
Scribble with crayons? YES NO

By 30 months

Does the child?

Understand the concepts of size (big/little) and quantity (a little/a lot, more)? YES NO
Use some adult grammar (two cookies, bird flying, I jumped)? YES NO
Use over 350 words? YES NO
Use action words such as run, spill, fall? YES NO
Participate in some turn-taking activities with peers, using both words and toys? YES NO
Demonstrate concern when another child is hurt or sad? YES NO
Combine several actions in play (puts blocks in the train and drives the train, drops the blocks off.)? YES NO
Put sounds at the beginning of most words? YES NO
Use words with two or more syllables or beats (ba-na-na, com-pu-ter, a-pple)? YES NO
Recognize familiar logos and signs involving print (Stop sign)? YES NO
Remember and understand familiar stories? YES NO

By 3 years

Does the child?

Understand who, what, where and why questions? YES NO
Create long sentences using five to eight words? YES NO
Talk about past events (trip to grandparents house, day at child care)? YES NO
Tell simple stories? YES NO
Show affection for favourite playmates? YES NO
Engage in multi-step pretend play (pretending to cook a meal, repair a car)? YES NO
Talk in a way that most people outside of the family understand what she/he is saying most of the time? YES NO
Have an understanding of the function of print (menus, lists, signs)? YES NO
Show interest in, and awareness of, rhyming words? YES NO
Read to stuffed animals or toys? YES NO
Scribble with crayons? YES NO

By 4 years

Does the child?

Follow directions involving three or more steps (First get some paper, then draw a picture and give it to Mommy)? YES NO
Use adult type grammar? YES NO
Tell stories with a beginning, middle and end? YES NO
Talk to try and solve problems with adults and with other children? YES NO
Show increasingly complex imaginary play? YES NO
Talk in a way that is understood by strangers almost all the time? YES NO
Generate simple rhymes (cat-bat)? YES NO
Match some letters with their sounds (letter b says buh, letter t says tuh)? YES NO