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Creating Inclusive Spaces: Perspectives on the Built Environment for Autistic Individuals
Creating Inclusive Spaces: Perspectives on the Built Environment for Autistic Individuals

Creating Inclusive Spaces: Perspectives on the Built Environment for Autistic Individuals

Time & Location

20 Apr 2024, 14:00 – 18:00

Giant Steps, 4400 Rue Molson, Montréal, QC H1Y 3J8, Canada

About the event


Format: In-person 

Date: Saturday, April 20, 2024, from 2 to 6 p.m. 

Location: Giant Steps, 4400 Rue Molson, Montreal, QC, H1Y 3J8 

Language: French

Cost: Free

Registration required: Reserve your spot

Join us for the second event of the TACC 2024 Autism Festival.

Co-organized by the TACC Community Engagement Committee and Giant Steps, the event will focus on the theme of inclusive spaces for autistic individuals. Whether it's housing, schools, public spaces, or public transportation, reflecting on the design of these places in relation to the needs of the autism community is essential to improve quality of life and promote full social participation for autistic individuals. 

"Creating Inclusive Spaces" will take place at Giant Steps, a centre designed and equipped to meet the needs of its autistic users. 

The program includes an afternoon full of exchanges and discoveries, beginning with a presentation of diverse perspectives on public spaces, followed by a discussion period, a student exhibition on interior design space planning, and a reception. 


2:00 p.m. Arrival

2:20 p.m. Opening remarks by Thomas Henderson, Director General, Giant Steps, and Mélanie Couture, Co-Director, TACC

2:30 p.m. Panel discussion, including 10-minute presentation by each speaker

3:30 p.m. Question and answer period, and open discussion

4:30 p.m. Exhibition and reception 


Mathieu Giroux is an autistic individual who has been a research collaborator for 10 years. He is the co-recipient of several grants for projects in housing and living environments for autistic individuals. Personally, he is also affected by housing issues as he must share accomodations and has never lived alone.

In his presentation, he will invite you to reflect on a possible paradox of housing and living environments designed for autistic individuals to promote inclusion, as these may inadvertently contribute to ghettoization, stigmatization, and exclusion, particularly through the "not in my backyard" (also referred to as 'NIMBY') phenomenon.

Sylvie Bastien has been the Executive Director of L’Archipel de l’avenir since 2021, a non-profit organization aiming to promote autonomy and improve the quality of life for autistic adults. L’Archipel de l’avenir aims to develop, either independently or in partnership, affordable housing projects. This includes access to subsidized housing for autistic adults as well as individual and community support to promote their long-term autonomy in a secure environment. A first agreement was reached in the summer of 2019, allowing 10 members of the organization to occupy 10 units out of 55 available in a building that brings together elderly individuals and autistic adults under one roof.

Sonia Gagné, a partner at the architecture firm Provencher_Roy, has over 30 years of experience in architecture. She was honoured at the 2021 Female Frontier Awards and named 'Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada' in 2022. She has led several winning proposals in architectural competitions.

Her presentation focuses on designing non-stigmatizing spaces for autistic individuals, promoting their social and professional integration. She will discuss how architecture is designed in collaboration with occupational therapists, to ensure safety and interaction with the external environment. Materials, textures, and views are designed to stimulate the senses and encourage active participation in society.

Virginie LaSalle is a Professor at the Faculty of Planning at the University of Montreal.  She joined the faculty of the School of Design in 2016 and has been teaching in the Bachelor of Interior Design program since 2007. Trained as an interior designer, she practiced within specialized and multidisciplinary firms before pursuing a specialized master's degree in history and theory in the M.Sc.A. in planning, followed by doctoral studies. Her work specializes in neuro-inclusive interior design and architecture, specialized living spaces, as well as sociality and sensory experience in the built environment. 

Xavier-Henri Hervé is the President and Co-founder of Autism House. With a longstanding vision to support autistic adults in achieving independent living and community engagement, Xavier-Henri launched the Autism House project in 2019 alongside his partner, Rosemary Maratta, an occupational therapist with experience working with autistic clients both in Quebec and internationally. Autism House offers a variety of services and educational opportunities designed to promote independence among autistic individuals in Montreal.

Register now

The Transforming Autism Care Consortium (TACC) connects and mobilizes Quebec’s strengths in autism research to improve quality of life for neurodivergent individuals and their families.

Interested in taking part in future inclusive events? Become a TACC member and stay up-to-date on the latest events and news. 

[Photo credit: Giant Steps]

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