Not Your Average Social Skills Group

Mar 20, 2024
Toronto, Ontario – Geneva Centre for Autism (GCA) is revitalizing social skills programming for autistic children and youth, thanks in part to a grant from TD Bank Group (TD). With new curricula incorporating Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) strategies, increased caregiver involvement, and clinical oversight from a Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst, ABA Social Skills programs aim to improve outcomes in the development of social, communication and self-regulation skills. 

For over 20 years, GCA’s Social Skills programs have provided opportunities for autistic children and youth to build meaningful relationships in their communities. Using evidence-based curricula, role-play and age-appropriate games, these programs teach critical social and communication skills from reading facial expressions and understanding emotions to safe use of social media. Over the past few years, GCA staff recognized the need for increased support in these Social Skills programs, due to the long-term effects of pandemic-related school and service disruptions.

“It’s been four years since the first pandemic lockdown and for some of us, that feels like a lifetime ago,” says Renita Paranjape, GCA’s Vice President of Programs & Services. “But many families in the autism community are still navigating increased anxiety, challenging behaviours and regressions in social communication skills.” 

GCA has responded to this community need with the development of ABA Social Skills groups, a full slate of new programs that take a more structured and clinical approach to teaching self-regulation, play skills and social communication skills. Increased caregiver support and involvement helps children to generalize skills outside of GCA while providing additional opportunities to build community connections between caregivers. 

“I knew our staff had the knowledge, skills, and experience to develop a comprehensive and effective slate of programs to meet the need for increased social skills support,” says Geneva Centre CEO, Abe Evreniadis. “We were thrilled to have TD step up as the lead sponsor on this initiative to help us reduce program costs and increase the accessibility of ABA Social Skills.” 
A long-time supporter of GCA Social Skills programs, TD has been a champion of social engagement in the Toronto autism community. The new, multi-year funding commitment from TD will help to offset the added program expenses associated with the clinical ABA Social Skills model, increasing access to these programs for 150 families each year. 

“Geneva Centre for Autism’s comprehensive programming creates a safe and supportive space for children with autism to build their skills and confidence so they can feel included and that they can participate in their communities,” says Robyn Small, Senior Manager, Philanthropy, Sustainability & Corporate Citizenship, TD Bank Group. “Through our corporate citizenship platform, the TD Ready Commitment, TD is proud to build on our long-standing relationship with GCA, supporting programs and services that help foster connections for autistic youth and their caregivers.”

About Geneva Centre for Autism 

With 50 years of experience, Geneva Centre for Autism is an international leader in the development and delivery of cutting-edge clinical and recreational programs for autistic individuals of all ages. Our mission is to enable people on the autism spectrum to learn, to live, and to engage in their communities. We do this by providing inclusive programming for families in the Greater Toronto Area and professional training to share best practices worldwide.