Backgrounder: New Projects under Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Fund (2019)  


August 19, 2019

The Government of Canada is committed to helping Canadians with disabilities and their families, including those living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Public Health Agency of Canada is providing up to $9.1 million over five years through its Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Fund for projects that will better serve the unique needs of individuals with ASD throughout their lives, as well as of their families, caregivers and communities.

Projects announced today include:

Autism Ontario

Mental Health Matters Project

  • PHAC funding: $524,431
  • In-kind contribution: $157,504
  • Total: $681,935

Mental Health Matters is a project that will adapt two evidence-based mental health promotion programs from the Ontario branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association for adults living with ASD and their caregivers. The project focuses on mental health promotion and is designed to help adults living with ASD and their caregivers to gain the skills and knowledge they need to cope with the various challenges they face. The project will train and deliver the programs to individuals with ASD and their families/caregivers, and provide opportunities for them to become facilitators and develop their skills to support others to learn valuable wellness skills.

Autism Resource Centre

Building Block Program

  • PHAC funding: $518,964
  • In-kind contribution: $0.00
  • Total:$518,964

The Autism Resource Centre (ARC) will develop and deliver ASD pre-employment and life skills activities to Indigenous populations and Indigenous communities. These activities will be delivered in Regina, Saskatchewan, the Cowessess First Nation and surrounding communities. This program will include core workplace skills and independent living and social skills, combined with other components such as the delivery of youth and adult mental health and wellness programs and services. ARC will also create an educational resource guide to increase awareness and knowledge of ASD within Indigenous communities and populations.

Jake’s House for Autistic Children

The Legends Mentoring Program Adult Expansion (LMPAE)

  • PHAC funding: $600,000
  • In-kind contribution: $173,000
  • Total: $773,000

The LMPAE will help guide and support adults (ages 18 to 30) with ASD through the transition from high school to adulthood and employment by matching them with a trained mentor to participate in work-related experiences. Mentors will provide support to develop social, behavioural and employment-related skills to increase the participation in the community of adults with ASD. The LMPAE will be scaled up to support its delivery across the provinces of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

York University

The Autism Mental Health Promotion Project

  • PHAC funding: $599,300
  • In-kind contribution: $58,153
  • Total: $657,453

The Autism Mental Health Promotion Project will take a two-step approach to mental health promotion. York University will develop and distribute mental health literacy materials through online and print resources for older adolescents and adults with ASD, the families of people with ASD, and service providers. This project will also implement evidence-based online and in-person interventions to improve the ability of individuals with ASD, and of their family members, to cope with stressors associated with ASD. An online mindfulness intervention will be accessible nationally through multiple partner hosting websites.

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal

La danse pour le mieux-être

  • PHAC funding: $184,167
  • In-kind contribution: $42,117
  • Total: $226,284

“La danse pour le mieux-être” will improve the wellbeing of individuals with ASD, their families, and caregivers through the benefits of dance. The National Centre for Dance Therapy (NCDT), a division of Les Grands Ballets, will offer recreational dance classes adapted to the specific needs of individuals with ASD and taught by professionals in the dance and health sectors. The classes will be offered by dance professors and assisted by health professionals (including dance therapists), with the dedicated goal of fun in a safe and adapted environment. Through the activities offered by the NCDT, individuals with ASD, their families and caregivers will have a safe and inclusive environment in which to discover the benefits of regular exercise and creative expression through dance.

McGill University (Royal Institute for the Advancement of Learning)

Caregiver Skills Training Program: Scaling up to underserved communities

  • PHAC funding: $600,000
  • In-kind contribution: $290,000
  • Total: $890,000

The Caregiver Skills Training (CST) Program aims to provide evidence-based skills training for caregivers who work in community settings with children who have ASD. The CST program was developed in 2013 by the World Health Organization in partnership with Autism Speaks. McGill, supported by Autism Speaks Canada, leads the Canadian adaptation of the CST program and will scale up the implementation in four community-based demonstration sites (Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon). Through this project, the University will directly train master trainers and facilitators, who will in turn deliver the CST Program to families within their own communities.

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