ASD Health, Wellness, Social and Skill Development Program

The Cause

AILA is a non-profit organization in Edmonton that consists of volunteers and self-advocates desiring to support adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who have moderate needs. Our objectives are to enable individuals with ASD to live to their full potential, have independent and satisfying lives as part of a community, and to find appropriate, safe and affordable housing. AILA’s future goal is to develop an intentional supportive housing community. An important first step to achieve this goal is to expand our Health, Wellness and Social Committee to include the Skill Development Program as well. The Health, Wellness and Social committee hosts social activities and is facilitated by members with ASD. The Skill Development program provides opportunities for members of our board who have ASD to increase their leadership skills and is also open to other members if they are interested.

Since autism is a social communication disorder, some of the biggest challenges for these adults are communication, organization, problem solving as well as higher-level social skills. These challenges affect every aspect of their lives, including finding and maintaining employment, friendships, dating, money and time management, and the ability to live independently. Many adults become socially isolated, and that is why AILA is building a sense of community and providing leadership skills to its members. In the future, AILA would like to help our members to become more confident in their leadership skills and social abilities. To accomplish these goals, AILA plans to:

•Offer board and leadership training to the adults currently on the board as well as other members who may be interested.
•Pay honorariums for speakers and educators so that we could offer group classes on various topics.
•Host social activities that our members aren’t able to currently afford, such as a yearly retreat or forum.
•Create handbooks and pamphlets and videos highlighting our work and our accomplishments.

Who Will it Benefit?

The funding will benefit the participants in the Health, Wellness, Social and Skill Development Program as well as parents and other family members, employers and community members. The skills the participants will gain can be used in other situations and with other populations. Some of the adults may go on to be peer mentors in other programs. AILA has a vision that we could be a model for other groups to develop their own intentional, supportive living community as well as model the success of the participants in the Health, Wellness, Social and Skill Development Program.

Some of the successes AILA members have experienced as a result of leadership and social opportunities:
•All members have participated in various capacities in AILA Board meetings and Annual General Meetings. Our Secretary and Vice President as well as three of our general board members are all on the autism spectrum.
•One member created a visual representation of what the community looked like for him to share at AILA’s Annual General Meeting.
•Two members created and acted in a video about supportive housing.
•Two members are currently sitting on the Health, Wellness and Social Committee and are actively planning events.
•Two members interviewed and chose volunteers for the Health, Wellness and Social Committee
•Various members have participated in open houses, information fairs and have represented our association to the public