Dianna and Sophia Jiang © Courtesy of Gifted People Services
Your GPS for Autism, Down Syndrome, and Other Developmental Disabilities
After immigrating to Canada in 2001, Dianna Jiang faced her darkest hour when her daughter, Sophia, was diagnosed with severe autism and global development delay at the tender age of three. Little did she know that this adversity would propel her on a remarkable journey to not only transform her own life but also illuminate the paths of over a thousand families facing similar challenges.
As a new immigrant, Jiang grappled with the cultural differences surrounding her daughter’s diagnosis, leading to depression and attempts at suicide. Faced with domestic violence and shattered dreams, Jiang found the strength to persevere for the sake of her daughter and her own mother.
A Guiding Light for Families
In 2012, Jiang turned her pain into purpose by establishing Canada’s first Mandarin-based non-profit organization, Gifted People Services (GPS). Initially conceived to share her experiences and support families with developmental disabilities, GPS has grown into a multicultural haven, employing staff from 13 countries who speak 16 different languages. Jiang envisioned GPS as a guiding force, a GPS for families navigating the challenges of special needs.
Her unwavering belief that every child is unique and possesses untapped potential is the driving force behind GPS’s success. Drawing from her own experiences with Sophia, who faced delayed milestones, Jiang has developed potential development programs aimed at uncovering each child’s gifts. Many children and youth have flourished under these programs, defying expectations and celebrating their individuality.
Understanding the hardships that families with special needs face, Jiang goes beyond traditional support. GPS hosts family support groups and stress-management workshops and even organizes trips to provide much-needed breaks for parents. Her holistic approach extends to supporting not only the children with special needs but also their siblings and family members.
A Legacy of Compassion
Jiang’s inspiring journey has garnered recognition on numerous fronts. Invited to share her story at a Citizenship Ceremony hosted by the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, she was shortlisted for the RBC Top 25 Immigrants awards. Jiang has been the recipient of multiple accolades, including the Catharine Parr Traill, Mandarin Profile, TCMA 2014, and Ontario 10-year Volunteer awards. In 2022, she was honoured with the Platinum Jubilee Pin, and in 2023, she received the prestigious Grand Impact Award.
Jiang’s story shows how much of an impact one person can have on countless lives. For families grappling with special needs, especially Autism Spectrum Disorder, GPS is an invaluable resource, empowering every individual to realize their unique potential.
In the face of adversity, Jiang not only found the strength to overcome her personal challenges but also created a lifeline for countless others. Her story proves that even in the darkest times, a single individual can make a profound difference, lighting up the lives of families and leaving an enduring legacy of compassion and resilience.
Jiang’s work is still ongoing. If you or someone you know can benefit from the support of GPS, learn more and get connected by visiting giftedpeopleser.org