Autism Edmonton enhances the lives of people on the autism spectrum, through knowledge, services and inclusive opportunities.

OCCASIO: Social-Recreational Respite Program


  1.  a Latin word that refers to a 'favorable moment' or an 'opportunity'
  2.  a new Social-Recreational Respite program now offered by Autism Edmonton!
The purpose of Occasio is to provide youth and young adults on the autism spectrum with opportunities to be socially active as empowered individual citizens living as part of their community.

Click here for Occasio's activity calendar to see what we'll be up to next...


"Social-Recreational" Respite:

Social-Recreational Respite can address many facets of life and development. Through opportunities to meet peers who share similar interests, people on the autism spectrum are able to build a stronger foundation for social interaction and personal confidence, all while parents are receiving respite support!
This helps participants to better understand their own diagnosis, learn and practice social skills, and grow many other valuable employment and life skills (such as independence, responsibility and accountability).
Occasio was born out of the idea of providing more fulfilling and socially appropriate respite to families and individuals with ASD. It is based on the success of a similar program in Calgary, offered by the Autism Aspergers Friendship Society (AAFS).
"Autism can make a person feel like they have their wings clipped and that they will never have the skills to be able to be an independent being...
Your program is designed to allow individuals diagnosed with autism to become comfortable with themselves, people their age and the world around them. It also facilitates learning the necessary skills to be able to function in our society as an independent being with confidence. So in a way you are "unclipping" the wings of many people like me (I'm 17 and diagnosed with ASD) and giving them a chance to fly."
  - Leona Sudom

Program Details:

Occasio has been designed as a spectrum-inclusive program for youth and adults ages 10 years and up (including 18+). The Occasio program runs with a maximum staff ratio of 4:1 down to "Social 1:1" (to maintain social interaction for those still needing one-to-one assistance).
Participants register on an activity-by-activity basis through their Occasio account on the Autism Edmonton website. This allows for more accommodative use of respite as it is required by the family, and helps to ensure that the users are attending activities that interest them the most.
All activities must be registered for online in order for Autism Edmonton to manage payment and administration.
Program activities will include things like:  board games or video games nights, visits to Edmonton attractions like the Valley Zoo, West Edmonton Mall or the TELUS World of Science, attending local festivals, sporting events or concerts… and everything in between!
  • Occasio members will be attending community events as community whenever possible (i.e. rather than booked ahead as a separate group)
  • Experiences and opportunities will be ecologically-relevant (i.e. What are their peers doing?)
  • Naturally-selected peer groups are encouraged whenever possible (and/or appropriate)
  • Decision-making will be driven by the participants (to support natural social lessons)
** PLEASE NOTEOccasio is an independence-building program. Therefore, some 'conveniences' will be purposely missing from the activities, in order to provide specific opportunities for Occasio participants to experience and practice real world situations.
Independence-strengthening opportunities might include things like using public transit, being responsible for one's own money, or other forms of supported self-advocacy.

How to get started:

You must be a member of Autism Edmonton with an active online account to register for any activities associated with the Occasio program. (If you have any questions about this process, please contact us for assistance.)
After logging in to your Autism Edmonton Member account, click on "Apply for Occasio" to reach the online intake form. The intake process must be completed before you will be able to view or register for any Occasio activities.
For additional program details, please see our list of Frequently Asked Questions.
If you still have questions and would like to know more about the Occasio program, please contact us directly:
(780) 446-1979 or (780) 453-3971 ext. 233