The Autism Center Project

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In 1989, SESOBEL created the first specialized program for autistic children and youth.  As SESOBEL has grown the current building is becoming inadequate both in space and functionability.  Plans have been made to create a new building, which can accommodate the autistic program, plus provide additional space for the early intervention program, which encompasses all types of disabilities at an early age.

  • An education center for 40 autistic children and youth with or without any physical disorder associated with autism (2 schools)
  • A living space to welcome 15 autistic youth over the age of 14 in the afternoons and/or during the night
  • A daytime center for support and socialization welcoming 30 young adults, over the age of 20 and who have severe autism
  • An early intervention unit for 50 underage children with any kind of physical or mental disability, or with pervasive developmental disorders/autism
  • A reception area to welcome the children and their families

The education center for autistic children and youth will also have rooms that are specifically furnished for various types of therapy sessions (ex. psychomotricity, speech therapy, social/relationship development therapy), classrooms, a playground, a dining area, and workshops (for computer and handicrafts). The center of support and socialization for young adults with severe autism will include several workshops (for handicrafts, computer, music, body language), as well as classrooms for the maintenance and reinforcement of what they have already acquired, and a dining area. The living space concept is to depict a real home environment.  The young autistic adults will have several shared living spaces; such as dining room, TV room, and other common areas.  There will also be individual bedrooms with bathrooms.  The design recreates a desirable family structure that is different from the school or the support and socialization center that they attend, and be a place where the participants can continue to learn and reinforce skills they have already acquired. By creating a distinction in their activities, young autistic adults will develop a better understanding of their spatial environment. The building will also include break and meeting rooms for the educational teams, as well as offices for the head teachers and social workers. Underground parking will also be included for the families who visit the center and the staff members.

The early intervention unit will have classrooms with toilets adapted for disabled access, as well as several workshop rooms. The rooms will be big enough to welcome every child, with or without a wheel chair.

A structure that combines well-being and security

The plan is to construct and furnish the building in a manner that ensures maximum security. For example, the floors will be linoleum to provide cushioning in case of a fall.  The baseboards and doors will have rounded edges, radiators will have covers, and windows will be placed high enough to prevent any accident.
The comfort and well-being of the children are always of uttermost importance.  Therefore, large windows will be used to maximize the natural light, spaces will be painted different colors for easy identification, sound barriers and acoustic insulation will be installed to enhance the quiet and concentration necessary during the learning or rehabilitation sessions. The design and layout plans for each room will take into consideration important elements for accommodating people with limited mobility, such as:  plentiful open space, wide corridors, elevators, rising slopes with no stairs, ramps (maximum gradient of 6%) with rails.