Geneva Centre for Autism

Geneva Centre for Autism is an international leader in the development and delivery of individualized clinical intervention services and training. As a full service agency, Geneva Centre for Autism's mission is to empower individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and their families, to fully participate in their communities. Our programs and services follow evidence based practices and apply a person-centred, skill-building approach to incorporate the unique needs and strengths of each individual with ASD.

Our Impact Why We Exist

We strive to:

  • Build the capacity and skills of individuals, families, community agencies and professionals to help individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) realize opportunities for successful community inclusion
  • Provide leadership in the development and delivery of services that are marked by excellence and flexibility and are grounded in evidence
  • Raise awareness and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder and promote the rights of all individuals to be treated with dignity and respect

We support individuals to reach their full potential and build collaborative partnerships with family members. We influence policy, support research, deliver innovative services and create uniquely tailored solutions that enable individuals with ASD, their families, and the community to prosper.

Our Story What We Do

Established in 1974, Geneva Centre for Autism supports families and professionals to empower individuals with ASD to thrive in an inclusive community. Our Centre is an international leader in cflinical intervention as well as education and training. We are proud to host Canada's largest International Autism Symposium in Toronto. We offer programs and services for all age groups that follow evidence based practices. Our clinicians apply a person-centred, skill-building approach that incorporates the unique needs and strengths of each individual with ASD. 

Programs and services include early intensive intervention programs; speech and language services; occupational therapy; family education and support; social skill building groups; behaviour/communication services and intervention planning; parent, sibling and peer support groups; transition services; adult programs and respite.

Geneva Centre for Autism's Training Institute promotes community awareness and education on ASD to health and education professionals and is a recognized leader in the development and implementation of training programs on ASD.

Accolades and Accomplishments

  • Over 40 years serving the Greater Toronto community
  • 4,200 Toronto area families supported
  • Child, teen, young adult, family clinical services, support groups and training
  • 120,000 respite hours provided to Ontario families each year
  • Ontario’s designated autism training resource
  • Host of the world’s pre-eminent autism symposium
  • Canada’s most extensive autism resource library
  • 200 full and part-time staff
  • 150 plus volunteer team
  • 80 student placements every year
  • 1.25 million website visits annually
  • Host of RespiteServices.com
  • Summer Institute trains 1,300 educational professionals each year.

Our Programs How We Do It

Intervention & Clinical Services

  • Behaviour Services provides intensive, multidisciplinary support to school-aged children and their families in developing children's communication, life skills and behaviour.
  • Social Work, Intake & Family Supports provide assistance in navigating the service system available to families who have a child aged 18 and under with an ASD diagnosis.
  • The Toronto Partnership for Autism Services (TPAS) provides Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI) to children diagnosed with ASD, which can allow children to show substantial improvement in language, cognitive ability and adaptive behaviour.

Education & Workshops

  • The Training Institute provides training and consultations to individuals and organizations not only across Canada, but also outside of our borders.  Recently, the Training Institute has expanded to offer online Certificate Courses, ensuring that geographic or time constraints do not hinder interested parties from accessing the information and education they need.
  • The International Symposium is a biennial international conference that brings together professionals, educators, parents and researchers from around the world to focus and discuss the leading research and clinical practices in the field of autism.
  • Summer Training Institute is an annual conference sponsored by the Ministry of Education that provides Ontario’s educators with best practices and strategies to ensure the success of children and youth with autism in their classrooms.

Community Service Partnerships

  • Hosted by Geneva Centre for Autism on behalf of the community, respiteservices.com provides information, support, and connections to respite programs and access to skilled workers to meet families’ needs.

Respite & Camps

  • Running after school and on the weekend sessions September-June, and full-time camp July and August, Geneva Centre for Autism’s Respite Program provides families and clients alike with a well-deserved break, allowing them time to recharge, relax and rejuvenate.

Social Skills & Vocational Training

  • The Social Skills program empowers children and youth with ASD to learn and use social skills in real life situations.  Over the past year, the Social Skills Program has had many children successfully transition out of program groups and into community programs, such as organized sports with no additional support required.
  • Guided by empowerment-oriented approaches, Enhanced Adult Living provides individualized and goal-driven transitional support services to youth and adults.  Recent introductions to the program include the Monarch Café Culinary and Hospitality Program, which provides participants blended experience in a working café, combined with classroom instruction.

 

Social Skill Building Groups for Children and Youth

Understanding social norms and interacting with others are typically among the biggest challenges faced by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  To assist them in developing the necessary understanding and appropriate behaviours to integrate successfully into schools, workplaces and the community, Geneva Centre for Autism offers an extensive Social Skill Building Program for children and youth 3-18 years of age. Our social skills-building program is a core support area necessary for individuals with autism, but it is not funded by the government.

Many children with autism have great potential but have a different style of learning. Under the direction of qualified group facilitators, these groups provide participants with opportunities to learn specific social skills like sharing, turn-taking, coping with teasing, expressing emotions and general social interaction. Each group also focuses on specific autism related challenges such as dealing with anxiety and coping with change.

Through our screening process, children are grouped according to their compatibility in strength and need. The curriculum is customized to meet the needs of the specific participants in the group.

Children with ASD have potential for achievement and successful community inclusion – but they require extensive specialized training and support to achieve these things. Geneva Centre for Autism’s Social Skill Building Program is designed to offer this vital, ongoing support. 

Funding and Program Partners

Our Social Skills program is one of our most popular and successful programs.  Due to the high staff to client ratio of 1:3 required to run this type of programming, it is also one of our most expensive programs.  This program does not receive any government funding. 

Many parents who already struggle with additional economic burden of raising a special needs child would not be able to afford to enroll their children in this program if it were not for the subsidized fees that we are able to offer through donations, fundraising and grants.

Program Impact

The Social Skills Building Groups offer small group instruction and one-on-one training on issues such as managing anxiety and stress for more than 250 children and youth with autism each year.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

  • “Toronto now has a picture of how ready its young children are to start school, and a disproportionate number in some high-risk communities continue to experience multiple challenges.”
  • “One quarter (25.5%) are sometimes or often limited from participation in activities by disability or illness.”

Participant Vignette

"I have been able to observe huge gains in my son's confidence since he has been attending the Social Skills Friendship group.  He approached classmates during a lunch break at school and asked to sit down with them, and they have been friends ever since!  I asked him what was different this time, and he simply said: 'I did not know that sometimes you had to be the one to approach others to make a friend!'"

-Mother of a Social Skills Client

 

Pathways of Extended Learning - Full Time Vocational and Pre-Vocational Programs 

Culinary Arts Pathway

This intensive full-time vocational training program will provideindividuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder with a blended trainingexperience in a working Café (Stepping Stones Café), combinedwith classroom instruction. Upon graduation, students will receivesupport in acquiring and maintaining employment. There will alsobe an opportunity for students to attend Culinary Arts classes at

George Brown College as part of the cost of this program. 

Funding and Program Partners

The Stepping Stones Café Culinary & Hospitality Program is sponsored by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Autism Speaks Canada.

The program is delivered through partnership with JVS Toronto, and Humber College, George Brown College, and Brock University.

The program is a fee-based service.

Program Impact

The reality is that only 15% of individuals with autism are employed, and that adults with ASD commonly experience lengthy periods of unemployment or underemployment which greatly affects the quality of their lives. (Camerto et. al., 2003; Howlin, 2000; Muller, Schuler, Burton &  Yates, 2003).

Vocational training programs such as the Stepping Stones Café provide adults with ASD the skills to not only succeed in the workforce, but also the confidence and tools to apply and interview for jobs.

Entering our second cohort of the Program, the Stepping Stones Café is thriving, and has been discussed as a model for other organizations within North America looking to implement similar programs.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

This program specifically address the extremely high unemployment rate of young adults with autism spectrum disorder.  While the statistics below denote a difficult situation for Toronto's youth, the statistics specific to individuals with an autism spectrum disorder show that only 15% of this population ARE employed.

  • "On average, 17.2% of young Torontonians (between 15 and 24) were unemployed in 2011."
  • "Toronto has 40% more knowledge work (jobs that demand a high level of skill and education), than the rest of Ontario.  The demand for knowledge workers has risen as the pool of middle-level jobs, (which require demonstrated skill or on-the-job training, but less experience and education) has shrunk substantially."

Participant Vignette

"I believe the Café has influenced my personal development by learning new social skills, safety skills and more!  For my professional development, I have learned things such as time management and handling and using a knife."

- J.W., The Stepping Stones Café Culinary & Hospitality Program Graduate

Life Skills Pathway

This intensive half-day program provides individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder an opportunity to learn, reinforce, and practicelife skills related to the home environment. With a chance topractice on-site in our model apartment, participants learnabout topics such as cooking, housekeeping, laundry, groceries,money management, and safety principles. This pre-vocationalprogram includes both classroom lessons, as well asexperiential components.

Professional Development Pathway

This intensive half-day program provides individuals withAutism Spectrum Disorder an opportunity to master concepts ofsocial thinking, professional conduct, resume development, andinterview preparation. This pre-vocational program includes group work, classroom lessons, as well as experientialcomponents which provides individuals with opportunities topractice both on-site within the Geneva Centre and off-site withcommunity partners. 

What You Can Do

Support Programming for Children, Youth, and Adults with ASD

Social Skill Building Groups for Children and Youth

Activities a donation will support

The Program is entirely dependent upon fund-raised dollars. Grants to this program will help us:

  • enable families who might otherwise remain unassisted to get the critical support they need
  • keep our service base as broad and accessible as possible, rather than making choices about participants based solely on the ability to pay
  • teach social skills that enable individuals with autism to participate more fully in school, work, and their community
  • provide continuous support, year on year, so participants are better able to build on acquired skills 
  • $5,000 covers the cost of 14 social skills group sessions for 6-8 participants

Donation impact

Grants to this program enable participants to:

  • gain a greater understanding of established social norms in a variety of situations and work toward adopting more appropriate behaviours
  • acquire interrelated skills that are necessary for social communicative competence and forming mutual friendships
  • make improvements in expressing themselves appropriately
  • make improvements in socialization at school
  • develop the ability to transfer skills from one situation to another
  • increase emotional expression
  • make improvements in sharing and turn-taking
  • increase their awareness of others and of rules.
 

Youth and Adult Pathways Programs

Pre-vocational and vocational training

Activities a donation will support

Investment in this program allows Geneva Centre to continue providing the necessary support participants need to begin their careers, and in turn to allow them to plan for their future.

Donation impact

With financial support, Monarch Cafe and Vocational Training programs to come will assist young adults with autism spectrum disorder in not only training for and finding employment, but also maintaining and excelling within their chosen field.

Contact

Nancy Bent
Communications and Marketing
416.322.7877 x309
Charitable Number: 868664640RR0001

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