Autism Support Service (ASPEN)
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Autism Support Service (ASPEN)

ASPEN is a social skills training group for 12 to up to 18 year old youth with a diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum including Asperger’s Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) or Non-verbal learning disability. Groups are one week long (Monday - Friday) from 9:00 am - 2:30 pm each day and offered on school holidays only (March break, summer holidays, Christmas break). This program is offered as a one-time only participation.

Boy in schoolyard teased by 4 students

Staff create a safe and supportive environment for youth to learn and practice social skills through a combination of role-playing, group interaction and community outings. Our individually-focused, strengths-based approach teaches each youth how to communicate, problem solve and resolve conflicts as well as set appropriate boundaries. Family members then support and reinforce their youth’s development with enjoyable homework activities.

At the conclusion of the program, youth feel more confident and comfortable when meeting new people, handling criticism, resolving conflict and managing their emotions. Families usually notice an increase in their child’s social skills, improved relationships and an enhanced quality of home life.

Progress through Feedback

On a daily basis, staff provide feedback to parents or guardians to review progress and discuss suggestions of how the family can support their youth in applying their new skills in day-to-day life. This communication reinforces each youth’s progress and helps Lutherwood continually adjust the group sessions based on client needs to improve effectiveness.

A Typical Group

Check in occurs with group members to review and discuss the skill(s) taught from the previous day. Each morning the group will prepare and practice a focused skill before joining the community to apply what they have learned. Group members are encouraged to practice the skill through role-playing and other skill-based activities. Through facilitator encouragement and support, group members identify, acknowledge and create strategies to address any anxieties, barriers and emotions that are present throughout all experiential activities.

At the end of each group, members and facilitators together provide an update with feedback regarding their participation in the session to parents/guardians.


Please contact Front Door at 519-749-2932 Monday to Friday between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm for more information on accessing this program.


ASPEN is provided at no cost to families and is funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth as well as the Lutherwood Child and Family Foundation.

Additional Resources

Follow ASPEN blogs and news through the Autism Spectrum Connection website.