New specialized centre opens to support individuals with autism and their families

18 November 2016

Research is a vital component in supporting the needs of the nearly 70,000 British Columbians living with autism spectrum disorder and their families.

In addition to funding researchers focused on autism and autism-related disorders, MSFHR played a role in the development of the Pacific Autism Family Network’s (PAFN) specialized autism centre — the GoodLife Fitness Family Autism Hub, which opened November 9 in Richmond. The $28 million, 60,000 square-foot facility — the first of its kind in North America — brings together resources for learning, assessment, treatment, support and research — including clinics, labs and research spaces­­­ — all under one roof.

Engagement within the BC autism research community and connecting the needs of families with autism research are among the PAFN’s primary aims and was the impetus behind the creation of the ad hoc Autism Research Steering Committee, co-chaired by MSFHR and Genome BC and including representatives from BC Institute of Technology, Child & Family Research Institute, Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECUAD), BC Ministry of Children and Family Development, University of Victoria, and University of British Columbia.

The committee collaborated to produce three reports as part of the Inform-Every Autism, National Initiative for Autism Research, the innovation and research arm of the PAFN which examines the current landscape for autism research in BC and how it can support the needs of individuals and families living with autism.

MSFHR partnered with PAFN and ECUAD’s Health Design Lab on a two-phase project — phase one was a series of co-creation workshops in Metro Vancouver and other BC communities bringing researchers together with families of autistic children and adults with autism to identify areas where families would benefit from additional research.

In January 2017, the Health Design Lab will be facilitating co-creation workshops with families of individuals with autism spectrum disorders as well as researchers in Vancouver and outlying centres. The primary goal of the workshops will be to generate meaningful dialogue and foster understanding between researchers and families to ultimately create a family-centred framework for research in autism.

Read the Inform-Every Autism research project reports.

Visit PAFN’s website for additional photos and videos of the grand opening.

Photo above: Temporary ECUAD Health Design Lab interactive installation engages PAFN visitors and collects data about their research needs and interests.