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Funded Projects 2023

Militer malgré nous: Towards a better understanding of the experiences of neurodivergent youth and their families in high school 

The transition to high school is a difficult one for many neurodivergent students, whose needs do not appear to be sufficiently aligned with the current school system in the regular mainstream curriculum. Young people often have to change schools, opt for home schooling or attend a specialized class without wishing to do so. Others abandon their studies. Those who remain face many challenges, often because their needs are misunderstood. The consequences of these obstacle-ridden paths are very real for young people and their families, with many reporting great distress. Their stories deserve to be heard and shared. 


Young people and their families repeatedly go to great lengths to explain the needs of young people in high school. Often, despite themselves, they become advocates for their inclusion. They take these steps so that young people can participate in a way that makes sense to them, so that they are able to attend their neighbourhood school, or so that they have access to the accommodations they need to succeed in the mainstream. While many studies have documented the barriers and facilitators to school inclusion for young people with autism, the reality on the ground remains difficult and demanding. A key element to a positive school experience is for those involved in the school environment to understand the experiences of young people and their families. This participatory research project, carried out in partnership with young people and families with lived experience, is part of this approach. 


The aim of this project is to document the voices of young people and families regarding the steps they have taken, throughout high school, to assert their rights or to explain and re-explain the needs of young people. Individual interviews will be conducted with 10 young people and 10 parents. They will be given the opportunity to tell their stories, to recount the steps they have taken that have had the greatest impact on them. They will also be invited to suggest ways of sharing these experiences. Ultimately, it is hoped that young people and families will no longer have to fight such battles. It is hoped that a better understanding of the experiences of young people and families in high school will help foster a real dialogue that will enable us to co-construct more inclusive high schools. 

Militants in spite of themselves
Feelig good at home!

Feeling good at home! Adapting living environments to meet the needs of autistic adults  

People with autism and their families have specific needs when it comes to the built environment, especially their living environment. However, it can be difficult to adapt an existing environment to specific needs. Design principles for the built environment for autistic people have been documented, but these have not yet been evaluated by autistic people themselves. This current project will bring together a team composed of researchers in design and occupational therapy, an autistic person, and community organizations that support autistic individuals. In addition, an advisory committee made up of autistic people, family members and a design consultant will provide feedback at every stage of the project. Together, the team will survey autistic people about their ideals for a quality living environment. Then, autistic participants will be asked to comment on design principles developed to meet their needs. These two steps will enable the team to create tools for adapting existing living environments in which autistic people live and evolve. These tools will be disseminated and can be used by anyone, with open access, to adapt their living environment to their needs. 

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