Ontario Adult Autism Research and Support Network - OAARSN

Ontario Adult Autism Research and Support Network

OAARSN offers information and communication tools to connect adults with Autism, family members, caregivers, friends, support workers, teachers, administrators and policymakers. We can all benefit from the opportunities for mutual support and encouragement and the sharing of knowledge and experience. Our efforts to promote positive approaches and best practices in supporting adults with Autism can help all who live and work on the front lines.

Creative Support Models

Toward Better Lives and More Secure Futures for Adults with ASD

Start early, even from childhood, and keep evolving these interrelated strategies. Find more information about these good ideas and practices through searches of this and other websites.

  1. Focus on abilities more than on deficits, and find strategies based on observations of “what helps?” to balance assessments of “what’s wrong?”
  2. Respect loving families as the experts on their daughters and sons with ASD and for their uniquely valuable experience and sense of responsibility.
  3. Encourage self-expression and choices by whatever means. See the humanity, abilities and potential in your son/daughter, however severely challenged. “Listen” to them, even when they do not speak, to understand their point of view and priorities. Observe and record what strategies work best. 
  4. Find and keep friends of various personalities, ages and abilities, who get to know the person very well and can support and continue the parents’ roles.
    Friends can support one another as well as the person when organized as a circle or personal support network. Each adult with ASD needs friends and allies in addition to family and those who are paid to be in her/his life.
  5. Plan with the person, using strategies that consider each person as an individual in working through transitions and envisioning a good life. The more complex the disorder, the more individualized the supports must be.
  6. Be creative and flexible in setting up key parts of the person’s plan for a good life
    Don’t be limited by the traditional service system. Consider what’s really needed and find ways to make it happen. Have a clear understanding of your general goals. But also be open to the opportunities, even serendipity, at some unexpected turns in the path.
  7. Consider the best kind of living situation for each person
    Adults with ASD need choices. A person with hypersensitivities may need her own home, supported in the ways she needs and shared with companions she chooses. Guelph Services for the Autistic (GSA) has pioneered a model of home ownership that includes choice and self-direction by the person, longterm capital investment by the family, support circles and networks, and recruitment and matching of lifesharers and supportive companions. 
  8. Daily activities should be real and fulfilling and include continued learning, healthful exercise, and contributions to the community
    Each person should have a way of life that is uniquely suited to his needs and interests. He should be able to comment and make requests and suggestions. Support workers should be chosen by the focus person and carry out their wishes.
  9. Constructive co-operation among all involved to support a good, whole life of each person with ASD, including:
    • Support to communicate thoughts and choices and to interact with others
    • Structured, predictable and familiar environments and routines, adapted as needed to suit each person
    • Recognition of and help to cope with sensory stresses and transitions
    • Work and recreational-leisure activities that give a sense of accomplishment and being valued
    • Opportunities to continue learning
    • A safe and caring home supported by companions one chooses
    • Adequate and sensitive healthcare services
    • Access to all necessary resources and expertise
    • Advocates to ensure that rights and needs are respected and not violated, and that existing services are appropriate and adequate.
  10. A good life must be sustained, beyond the lives of parents
    A new mechanism recognized by GSA is the Aroha, an incorporated entity of personal empowerment and support (like a microboard in British Columbia). An Aroha can give good friends of the person and parents the legal powers to strengthen and continue family efforts. An Aroha can own property, and receive and manage resources to match needs and wishes.

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Please note that OAARSN provides resources for information purposes only. We do not endorse any treatment, program, product or service. The contents of this website are not medical, legal, technical or therapeutic advice. Information should be reviewed with qualified professionals. We will not be held responsible for misuse of information or for any adverse effects of recommendations mentioned on this website or on any other websites linked to it. Views, opinions or announcements posted by subscribers to any area of this site do not necessarily reflect those of OAARSN and we do not assume responsibility for any discrepancies or errors.