CONNECT Project

Background

In 2017, more than 15,000 adults (18 years of age and older) with autism lived in the Maritimes. The transition from adolescence to adulthood has far-reaching consequences for the autistic community. For those entering adulthood, medical, psychological, social, and community needs are numerous and varied. This growing population frequently reports difficulties in connecting with care and support during this transitional period, which can undermine the progress made during their childhood years.

About the project

The CONNECT project (CONtiNuity of carE and support for autistiC adulTs) aims to break down barriers and understand the everyday needs and challenges faced by adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

From the beginning, CONNECT was conceived as a project by autistic adults for autistic adults. CONNECT is the first Maritime-wide collaborative research initiative co-led by an autistic adult and aimed at representing adults with ASD by:

  1. Assessing their needs via a survey; and,
  2. Sharing what we learned and best practices in autism with health and social service providers, policy-makers and the ASD community.

Through this unique project, decision-makers will have access to a portfolio of evidence-based tools, created in collaboration with adults with ASD, their families and other knowledge users to improve the continuity of care and support for the autistic community.

The Needs Assessment Survey

Beginning in 2017, we surveyed 164 adults with ASD in the Maritimes and their caregivers, as well as 96 professionals who work with autistic adults in our region. The goal of the survey was to better understand the everyday needs and challenges of autistic adults. The needs assessment survey, which was developed, designed and promoted with the help of autistic adults, collected socio-demographic data, alongside information about physical and mental health, level of autonomy, quality of life, use of social and leisure services, the availability and use of financial support, as well as barriers limiting or denying access to existing supports and services.

Click here for the video for hearing impaired

Sharing what we have learned

The CONNECT research video: giving voice to the experience of adults with ASD

Team members, including youth and adults with autism and their caregivers, worked collaboratively to develop this bilingual video highlighting the significant contributions that autistic adults have made to CONNECT.  The autistic adults who participated in CONNECT as members of the research team are the stars of the video—playing a vital role in developing the concept for the video and speaking for the project. This bilingual video was made possible by a knowledge-translation grant from the Consortium national de formation en santé (CNFS) through funding from Health Canada, and was produced in collaboration with Spectrum Productions, a Montreal-based production company that creates opportunities for people with autism who would like to work in media and the arts. A longer “behind-the-scenes” video is currently in production, which will tell the story of how the short video was made.

Read more about the video production

Autistic Adults Summit

November 17-18, 2017 (Shediac, New Brunswick) 

More than 100 participants gathered to share their experiences and discuss ways to support autistic adults in our region—an exceptional gathering for the autistic community in the Maritimes. The Summit included presentations from national and international experts in the field of autism, and a panel of adults with ASD shared their personal experiences of living with autism and with accessing care and support systems in their province and community. The Summit also included a temporary art gallery displaying various artistic creations by autistic adults.

Download the program

Download the guest speakers' presentations

Knowledge-Sharing Workshop 

November 17, 2017 (Shediac, New Brunswick)

This workshop was an opportunity for knowledge-users to provide feedback on the preliminary results of the CONNECT survey. It allowed the autistic community of the three Maritime Provinces and the region’s stakeholders to make connections and come together to help define the future path of autistic adults in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The ideas and comments collected during the workshop helped refine the interpretation and analysis of the survey data and served to identify priority areas in autistic adult research. 

Download the workshop report (English)

Download the workshop report (French)

Latest News

Project Leads

  • Caroline Jose, PhD, Research Associate, Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit and Adjunct Professor, Université de Sherbrooke (currently on leave)
  • Patricia George-Zwicker, Editor of Autistics Aloud and Artist

For more information, please contact: connect@mssu.ca

Follow us on Twitter and use the hashtag #CONNECTMaritimes to join the conversation.

 

Project Funders