After School Program for Students on the Autism Spectrum

The Cause

Students on the autism spectrum are valued members of our community with many strengths and skills who are capable of succeeding academically and socially when provided with specific instruction and support to overcome the complex challenges they often face. All of our students work hard to succeed in school but often require assistance with organization, planning and socialization. The after-school tutoring program benefits the students academically and socially, equipping them to contribute positively to their communities and to their own wellbeing throughout the remainder of their lives.

The program teaches study techniques and social skills which improve classroom learning and relationship building. Individuals on the spectrum often struggle to communicate effectively or feel a sense of belonging with the world around them. This program builds skills for positive interactions on many levels and enhances communication between the students, school, and parents.

- Students have a place within the school community where they belong (similar to other extra-curricular activities). The students currently attending the program choose to attend on a regular basis despite the fact that the program is set up on a drop in basis. A positive sense of connection to a healthy peer group is strongly correlated with positive individual and communal outcomes.

- Students develop relationships with each other and with the adults facilitating the sessions. Our students have the opportunity to work with each other if they are sharing a subject and to develop a relationship with an adult other than their direct teachers and their parents.

- Students develop confidence in their academic abilities which transfer to the classroom. We have seen evidence of academic improvement with students currently involved in the program along with increased confidence and participation in class.

- Parental feedback is positive and encouraging.

Who Will it Benefit?

Students on the autism spectrum who attend Holy Trinity Academy in Okotoks, Alberta will benefit directly from the program, enjoying the rare opportunity for positive social interaction and academic tutoring. Parents, peers, and teachers of the students will all benefit from the social/emotional and academic development of these children as they develop increased competence and confidence in all areas. Parents of students on the spectrum often struggle to afford the additional tuition the students require to succeed in school. Happy, healthy, well-functioning individuals contribute positively to the overall health and wellbeing of an entire community.

While this is a Catholic High School, our program is often sought out by community members of all faiths for our excellent academic programming.