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

Occasio Program FAQs

Occasio Program: Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  Who is the Occasio program intended for?
A:   The Occasio program is designed to be spectrum-inclusive for youth and adults ages 10 yrs and up (including 18+), who have access to Family Supports for Children with Disabilities (FSCD), Child and Family Services (CFS) or Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) funding. For those without funding, there is also an option to pay up-front to use the program.
You may also be interested in one of Autism Edmonton's other activity or support groups, such as "The League of Extraordinary Individuals" (for individuals with autism aged 18-24), or one of the many support groups or family activity nights hosted by Autism Edmonton throughout the year.
If you would like to know more about any of Autism Edmonton's other programs, please contact our Support Services Team at or call 780-453-3971 and press 1.
Q:  How do I get started with Occasio?
A:   The Occasio program relies on a general intake process, so that we can get to know you (and your family, if applicable) and help you find the most appropriate activities through Occasio and Autism Edmonton.
We have moved our intake process for Occasio online to make things more convenient for you! This way, you don't have to make a trip into the office or take time out for an appointment during business hours. Simply log-in to your Autism Edmonton Member account and then click on the "Occasio Online Intake Form". (Remember, you'll need to fill out a form for each participant who wishes to attend.)
NOTE: All Occasio activities will be registered for through your Autism Edmonton Members account online. Before you can register for any activities, your Occasio intake must be fully approved (including billing set-up).  
  1. On the Autism Edmonton website, click on the Members button on the menu at the top of the screen. This will bring you to where you can create an online account as a new or renewing Autism Edmonton member. You will be asked to enter in your current contact information, including your email address.
  2. BEFORE YOU SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION: Make sure you check the box that says "Create an Online Account" as this is how you will be able to apply/register for Occasio activities!
  3. Your Autism Edmonton online account will be created immediately- however, you will still need to complete the Occasio intake form for each participant. (You can find this form in the Members section of our website once you're logged in.) Please contact us if you have any questions or need some assistance.

Families and individuals can apply for the Occasio program through their Autism Edmonton online account (which can be accessed at any time by clicking Members on the top menu of the website and logging in).
A separate intake form will need to be filled out for each individual who intends to use the Occasio program. Minors will require a parent or guardian to submit their intake form. Additional participants may be added from within your online Occasio account.
  1. The intake form begins the application process for the Account Administrator and one* (1) Occasio Participant. This might be a parent (Account Administrator) and their child (Participant), or it may be an adult individual accessing the service (both Account Administrator and Participant).
    *Each participant must submit a separate intake form. Additional participants may be added after Occasio account has been activated.
  2. Your Occasio account will not be activated until your application has been approved by the Occasio Coordinator. This may take either 3 business days, or until all direct billing paperwork has been finalized through the Occasio Coordinator. (FSCD form can be downloaded here.)
  3. For each application submitted, a unique user profile will be generated using the Occasio Participant's first and last names. This will allow you to manage personal information within your account, provide helpful notes for Occasio's Social Architects, and conveniently register for activities through the Occasio Respite Calendar.
  4. You will be notified of your application status by email once it has been reviewed by our Occasio Coordinator.
  5. Once your application has been approved, the Occasio Coordinator will enable registration functionality for your online account, so that you can start signing up for your favourite Occasio activities!
Q: I would like to register multiple children for the Occasio program. How do I add more than one participant to my account?
A:   The online intake form creates an Occasio account for the Account Administrator and one* (1) Occasio Participant. If you would like to add additional family members as participants, you can do so from within your Occasio Respite Profile after logging in to your Autism Edmonton Members account. Click on "Respite Profile", then click on "Add Participant" and complete the intake form for that individual.
*Please note:  Additional participants can only be added after your Occasio account has been activated.
Q:  How do I sign up for activities?
A:  Activities can be registered for directly through the Occasio Respite Calendar. You will find the Event Calendar located within the Occasio section of the Autism Edmonton website when you're logged in to your online account. (If you're logged out, this calendar will not be visible.)
Clicking on any Occasio calendar listing will bring you to the activity registration page. This is where you can select the Participant who will be attending, and add helpful notes or instructions for Occasio staff. After you complete the "checkout" process, you will be sent an email to confirm your successful registration.
Q:  What kinds of activities do participants get to try?
A:   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!
*Please note:  Occasio 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.
Q:  What if I don't want an online account?
A:   All Occasio activities must be registered for online, with no exceptions. This is to allow Autism Edmonton to manage registration and payment for the Occasio program. If you have any trouble with this, please contact the Occasio Coordinator at
Q:  What fees are associated with your program?
A:   Occasio charges an hourly respite rate which varies depending on your funding support. Because the needs of each Occasio participant will vary greatly, the rates for the program will also vary to a certain extent. Individual rates will be confirmed upon account approval (if PDD funding is being accessed, the Occasio Coordinator will need to be informed of your approved rate).
If paying up-front: our base rate is $15.50/hour for a youth-to-staff ratio of 2:1, 3:1 or 4:1. If needing 1:1 assistance, the base rate is $18.50/hour instead. Payment will be collected by an Occasio staff member at the activity via credit card (we are unable to accept cheques or debit).
FSCD direct-billing rates are dependent on the individual contract and the types of services covered by the contract.
Please note that these rates are for Respite Staffing only, and activities themselves may have an added cost (admission, club fee, etc.) which will be payable by the participant (i.e. not billed to FSCD).
If you have questions about which rate may apply to you, please contact the Occasio Coordinator directly at
Q:  Are there any fees or costs other than the Respite Rate?
A:   Because Occasio is a social program that revolves around community-based activities, each activity will have their own associated costs (above and beyond the hourly respite rate).
This may include things like: cost of admission or tickets to an event, purchasing food (when inappropriate to bring their own), or discretionary spending (e.g. personal purchases, merchandise or souvenirs). These types of costs will be paid at the point of purchase (for example, movie tickets will be purchased at the theatre and not through Autism Edmonton).
For coordinated activities (such as video games nights) that require the rental of community space and the provision of supplies, there will be a small fee to cover the materials, rental and upkeep. These fees will be collected at the activity by credit card or cash ONLY (we are unable to accept cheques).
Any applicable costs or fees will be posted in each activity description online.
Q:  I have an FSCD contract, but which type of funding does your program use?
A:   The rate for FSCD direct-billing relies on having AGENCY RESPITE funding included in your contract. If you have PRIVATE respite included, but NOT AGENCY, please contact your agency worker to request an addendum to your contract that would add an AGENCY RESPITE agreement to your contract. This will then allow for direct-billing from Occasio/Autism Edmonton.
Until there is a finalized FSCD contract that has been approved by Autism Edmonton for the Occasio program, participants will be required to pay up-front for respite hours using a credit card (we are unable to accept cheques or debit).
Q:  What if I don't have access to funding? How can I find out if I do?
A:   If you do not know whether or not you have access to funding, please call the Occasio Coordinator for assistance at (780) 446-1979.
If you are already aware that you do not qualify for funding, but are still interested in this program, please get in touch with us. We may be able to help with some subsidy support, or see if one of our other programs might be a better fit for you at this time.
You may be interested in one of Autism Edmonton's other activity or support groups instead, such as "The League of Extraordinary Individuals" (for individuals with autism aged 18-24 who don't have funding), or one of our other support groups or family activity nights hosted by Autism Edmonton throughout the year.
If you would like to know more about any of our other programs, please contact our Support Services Team at
Q:  What if I have funding, but I can't afford the cost of activities (admission, lunch, transit passes)?
A:   We encourage you to contact the Occasio Coordinator to discuss your individual situation by calling (780) 446-1979. There may be ways we can help you mitigate some of those costs.
One option to check out is the Leisure Access Program, which allows eligible low-income Edmontonians to access participating City of Edmonton recreation facilities, either free of charge or at a significant discount. You may qualify if you are an Edmonton resident and one of the following applies:
- You are on AISH
- You are a new immigrant or a refugee (To qualify, you must have been in Canada less than one year and have not filed a tax return)
- You are a child under government care
- Your household income is under the eligibility cut-off.
To learn more about the Leisure Access Program, please visit their page on the City of Edmonton website or call 311.
Q:  What happens on the day of the activity?
A:   On the day of the activity, parents are responsible for dropping off & picking up their child/youth at the designated meeting spot. Activity details, including time & location, can be found on the Occasio Event Calendar (when logged in to your account).
When you drop off your child, you will need to sign them in on the activity sheet and include a contact phone number that you can be reached at during the time of the activity. (If you are not approved for direct billing, you will also need to pay at the time of drop-off.)
*Please note:  If you are unable to pick up your child at the end of the event, Occasio staff will only be allowed to release your child to someone who has been authorized by you. This information will be collected on the Occasio application. If you need to change who is allowed to pick your child up from activities, please contact the Occasio Coordinator directly.
Q:  Who is your staff?
A:   Occasio staff are known as "Social Architects", as they help scaffold learning and support relationship building among Occasio participants. All of our staff have First Aid Training (Level C) and current criminal record checks. Occasio Social Architects are supervised and trained by the Occasio Coordinator and the Manager of Support Services.
Q:  What is the ratio of staff to participants?
A:   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). The ratio of staff is never above 4:1 and is always based on the needs of each member and the activity.
Q:  My child needs 1:1 care - are you able to provide that?
A:   We are able to provide 1:1 care if it is included in the Occasio application. We assess the needs of each child individually with the hope of eventually phasing out 1:1 care and encouraging greater independence. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please don't hesitate to contact the Occasio Coordinator by email at or by calling (780) 446-1979.
Q:  Can I come with my child?
A:   Occasio's funding model relies on the understanding that we are providing respite for families, and as such, we are not able to invite family members to stay at activities.
If you are concerned about your child adjusting or feeling comfortable with the group, you are welcome to stay for a specified period of time to help with that adjustment.
We always offer space for parents to talk with the Social Architects before and after an activity. Any additional concerns should be communicated to the Occasio Coordinator directly.
Q:  Can siblings attend activities as well?
A:   Under special circumstances, siblings may be welcome to attend activities if it would help the relationship between the sibling and the youth with ASD. We would charge a rate for the siblings. Please contact the Occasio Coordinator for more details.
Q:  What are the age groups? How are "peer groups" selected?
A:   Occasio recognizes that individuals on the autism spectrum may not developmentally match their chronological age. For this reason, Occasio activities are open to all ages to encourage the opportunity to meet like-minded peers who may not otherwise be grouped together.
Occasio encourages natural peer selection, but Social Architects play a hands on role in ensuring that these groups are socially and emotionally appropriate to all members. Peer groups will largely be defined by common interests, which is a key reason that we encourage registration for activities of interest.
Q:  Will my child be with other youth like him/her?
A:   Occasio is open to participants of all abilities, ages 10 and up. Occasio intends to create a community where youth and adults are able to meet and connect with peers who share their interests, experiences and goals while also emphasizing the establishment of a supportive ASD community.
Q:  My child has difficult behaviours. Is he/she still welcome in this program?
A:   Occasio staff are familiar with a wide range of behaviours. We feel that with the right information and support from Occasio and the family we can ensure success in Occasio programming. For any specific questions or concerns please contact the Occasio Coordinator at
Q:  Do you provide assessment, support groups, or treatment?
A:   We do not provide assessment or diagnosis, but we are able to refer you. If you need information about how to get a diagnosis, or if you have questions about any other autism-related  resources (such as specialized services, support groups, assessment /diagnosis, educational resources, etc) please contact our Support Services Team at and they wil be able to help you out.
Q:  Will I need to bring, or send with my child, any specific items or supplies?
A:  Any additional supplies or items will be described in the activity details at registration.
If your child requires specific items for sensory or self-care needs (i.e. headphones, sunglasses, chew tubes, personal care items) it will be your responsibility to send these items.
Q:  How does transportation work?
A:   All Occasio participants are required to organize their own transportation to and from activities. Transportation within the activity will be walking distance, public transit or by hired bus and will always be specified within the events details if it applies to that activity.
Q:  What if my child cannot stay for the entire duration of the activity?
A:   Please let the Occasio staff know in the ‘Special Instructions’ field of the activity registration page. Make sure that whoever will be picking the participant up is authorized to do so on your Occasio account.
A change in attendance time will affect payment. At this time, Occasio participants will need to pay up-front for the entire activity time and then be reimbursed for un-used time after (this does not apply to FSCD users, who will not be billed for the un-used time).
Q:  Why is the program called "Occasio"?
A:  The name "Occasio" was the result of a Canada-wide naming contest, with a cash prize sponsored by Insight Psychological in Edmonton. Occasio is a Latin word that means “opportunity” or “favorable moment”. Autism Edmonton would like to thank to our winning contributors, Kevin Payne and Leona Sudom, and to everyone else for their creative and inspiring submissions!