Fanshawe researcher Carmen Hall and Hutton House ED Jeanette Dutot

Fanshawe researcher Carmen Hall and Hutton House ED Jeanette Dutot

Enhancing social inclusion for those living with autism spectrum disorder

Working together with compassion and optimism, Fanshawe's School of Community Studies and Hutton House, which supports people with disabilities, are collaborating on a year-long Skills 4 Life learning program for adults living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Working together, Autism and Behavioural Science researcher Carmen Hall, Hutton House executive director Jeanette Dutot and their teams are pursuing scientific methods of interaction to positively influence potential for enhanced inclusion in society. Reaching beyond recreation and general life skills offered to adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities, Skills 4 Life is designed to teach participants through Applied Behaviour Analysis, which increases one's ability to interact with others and gain a sense of belonging. This science is widely-implemented through the Ontario Autism Program for children up to age 18, and Hall sees benefit for adults too.

Through applied strategies and differentiated instruction, ASD participants can learn to set a table using a placemat with drawings of utensils, sort laundry loads by matching a picture with an object and use a debit card or ride the bus solo. These positive outcomes increase independence and self-esteem, and enable some participants to secure employment, thus providing significant reason and rationale for future government funding to sustain the program.