Autism Café in Quebec Helps Young Adults Overcome Social Isolation

Participants at Autism cafe
Categories: Articles, Blog, Feature, Mobile, Newswire

In Canada, more than a quarter of a million families are touched by autism spectrum disorders. Young adults on the autism spectrum are often more likely to never get called by friends or be invited to activities.

“I’m grateful for a program that supports people like me.”

For 11 years, The Salvation Army in St-Jérôme, Que., has hosted an autism café on Friday nights where adults living with autism develop social skills, overcome issues with anxiety and embrace their strengths, talents and interests.

My son is autistic,” says Frida Aoun, who founded the café. “He inspired me to create a safe place where he could be himself, discuss his difficulties, share his abilities and develop positive social connections. The Salvation Army helped to facilitate the inception of the project.”

Nancy Grégoire who attends the café regularly says that since her first meeting she has never looked back.

“Café Planète Autissia offers exciting outings such as to Wilson Falls National Park,” says Nancy. “Once a year, we host a fundraising event where I act and sing. I’ve discovered talents I never thought I had.”

“I have found a place of belonging like never before.”

Social interactions can be confusing and overwhelming to individuals with autism, which can lead to loneliness and isolation. On any given night at the café, more than 20 adults have supper together and enjoy activities and games such as bingo and karaoke.

“I don’t know what I would do without the café,” says Nancy. “I have found a place of belonging like never before and have developed friendships that have continued beyond the walls of the café. I’m grateful for a program that supports people like me.”