Autistic adults face a housing crisis in many provinces. Trends show they are increasingly at risk for food and shelter insecurity and homelessness. Housing supports for people with developmental disabilities are primarily designed for people with intellectual disabilities, not autism spectrum disorder. That leads to more extensive and costly support later.
The Housing through an Autism Lens Solutions Lab will develop a pathway to independent and fulfilling living for autistic adults. It will determine the right mix of services that support autistic adults at different stages in their lives. Participants will then co-create housing solutions that recognize and match the housing and independent living needs of autistic adults.
Key Findings / Key Goals
Use participatory methods of data collection that include the necessary accommodations associated with collecting data from people with autism.
Identify the right services, funding and support for autistic adults that evolve with them as they age.
Develop a pathway to independent and affordable living for autistic adults that includes flexible, housing-related supports and services.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Unique housing-related risks
Autistic adults face unique housing-related risks due to heightened social and stress vulnerabilities. They also have higher than average co-existing mental health and chronic health problems, and their support needs can vary widely. Most live at home well into adulthood and are more likely to be on social assistance. We need a better understanding of their needs to ensure affordable housing options, with flexible supports and social inclusion.
Robust innovation methodology
There are distinct methodological challenges when engaging with autistic adults. This is particularly true of those with higher support needs or those who are non-speaking. The Lab will use a robust innovation methodology to capture the unique housing experiences and perspectives of people with autism.
The Lab will have 5 phases:
- Phase 1 convenes representatives and experts from the full system of services that touches adults with autism. It creates an engagement strategy that ensures the Lab reaches diverse stakeholder groups and includes meaningful involvement from autistic adults.
- Phase 2 involves narrative research that engages stakeholders and end-users, such as adults with autism. Participants will be invited to share a short narrative about a great or terrible experience they have had. The lab also will collect 300 to 500 stories. These will help identify the gaps between the existing housing situations of autistic adults and what may be needed.
- Phase 3 will include stakeholder workshops to create potential solutions. These solutions potentially include technological innovations for supporting autistic adults through online approaches. This is crucial, because online contact doesn’t require social interactions, which people with autism may find stressful.
- Phase 4 will involve critiquing the ideas from the previous phase and developing a prioritized set of workable solutions. These will be developed into prototypes, some of which will be tested with target groups.
- Phase 5 will see a roadmap created so that the solutions can be implemented or scaled. One-page summaries of each prototype also will be prepared.
Sharing insight and innovations
Insight and innovations from the Lab will be shared through a variety of different forms and avenues. A collection of participant stories will be created, and visual and infographics will be shared over social media. Policy briefs, a roadmap infographic and a summary report will also be created when the Lab is finished. These knowledge products will be collected together in a compendium for distribution.
Project Team: The Lansdowne Consulting Group
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Project Collaborators / Partners:
- Tanya McCleod, CEO of Sinneave Family Foundation
- Barbara Potter, COO, Sinneave Family Foundation
- Margaret Spoelstra, CEO, Autism Ontario
- Tobi McEvenue, Adult Coordinator, Autism Ontario
- Julie Kingstone, Co-Leader and Director of Operations, LiveWorkPlay
- Sheila Bell, Lead, Ottawa Adult Autism Initiative
- Dr. Yona Lunsky, Director, Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
- Sergio Cocchia, Director, Autism and Intellectual Disability Knowledge Exchange Network (AIDE)
- Dr. Susan Farrell, Vice President, Patient Care Services and Community Mental Health, The Royal Mental Health Centre
- Dr. Jonathan Weiss, Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology
- Stephane Giguere, CEO, Ottawa Community Housing
- Marge McCabe, member of the former Ontario Developmental Services Housing Task Force
Get More Information:
Search our Housing Knowledge Centre for important updates on the progress of this lab.