Funded Activities

The Laurel Foundation has sponsored the following research over the years:

Self Identification of Persons with Developmental Disabilities

Dr. S. Anthony Thompson at UBC - Identified problems that persons with gender identity concerns have to contend with. He made recommendations to assist them in their quest to be comfortable as persons with a disability and homosexual or lesbian sexual preferences.

Behaviour Interventionists with Children with Autism

Miriam Elfert at UBC- Examined the experiences of behaviour interventionists who work in children’s homes to reveal the stressors and coping resources with which they have to deal. The results enabled training programs to be more effective in preparing interventionists to provide better support and intervention services in the future.

Sight Word Reading in Children with Autism

Brenda Fossett at UBC- Examined the efficacy of two interventions to teach sight word reading skills to children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. One uses pictures to foster an association between the word and the picture, while the other stresses word recognition exclusively. The results are important to identify the more effective teaching method to be employed.

Evaluation of Neurobehavioral Inventory -NBI

Dr. D. Hurwitz devised an assessment tool that identifies behaviors in a format that provides a comprehensive inventory of a person’s level of functioning and potential problematic behaviors that could impact the amount of care required. The Laurel Foundation funded The BC Neuropsychiatry Program’s consistency and reliability studies to determine the reliability of the NBI’s ratings, and its sensitivity to change. The results validated the NBI, and should greatly aid in providing a clinically and functionally useful assessment tool in quantifying problematic behavior.

Relationship between Video Feedback and Peer Interaction Skills

Linda Maione at UBC - Investigated the use of video playback with children with autism spectrum disorders to determine and measure its effectiveness in teaching and reinforcing social skills. This area is of vital importance when children become adults with a higher level of expectations for their social competencies.

Development and outcome evaluation of a social competence program for children with an autism spectrum disorder.

Project Directors Dr. Grace Iarocci, SFU and David Worling designed a research protocol to examine social competence in children and youth with a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Central to this research is the creation of a battery of assessment tools to measure social competence and the examination of therapeutic group programs in an effort to better articulate subtle changes in social competence


The Laurel Foundation has directly sponsored:

Modified ABA Program Evaluation Project

Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children – measured changes in children receiving a modified ABA treatment program at The Laurel Group. The results demonstrated that measurable progress took place with limited time devoted to the treatment plan, compared with the 40-hour programs mooted in the professional literature as being the minimum time to be allotted.

Parent Information Workshops

Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children - Gathered specialists in the field of autism enabling parents of newly diagnosed children to obtain information about the challenges, resources, support and intervention strategies that families will have to deal with. This grounding is an essential service to assist parents and caregivers in learning to deal with medical, social systems and resources.

Joe’s Place Summer Day Camp

Operated in Victoria for children and adolescents with Asperger’s Syndrome and high functioning autism to develop social and anger management skills in the community, and with normal peers. Three different age groups spent two weeks with a skilled and empathetic staff, supported by graduate students from The University of Victoria.

Arts Umbrella - Strathcona Theatre Arts Outreach

The Strathcona Theatre Outreach seeks to bring high-quality programs to the Strathcona area, where children and youth do not regularly have access to high-quality extra-curricular programming.

The program created a space where children and youth could articulate their struggles and concerns, and engage in a dialogue with peers and adults about issues they were facing. Young people in the ethnically diverse Strathcona community often face unique challenges, which may include learning English as a second or third language, and balancing cultural expectations.

School Wide Paradigm Shift to Proactive Behavioural Support Project

The Prince George School District program developed an action plan for training at risk students to make informed and well thought out decisions, with built in ongoing supports to allow students to stay integrated in regular classrooms. It also incorporated a systemic model of ongoing family consultation and support for problem solving which included home visits.

Circle of Change BC Challenge Days

This Tri-Cities project consisted of 3 days of workshops involving adolescents, parents, school and community based personnel focussing on mental health / social / behavioural / cultural / racial / bullying / drug and alcohol issues.

The Challenger program aims to improve life effectiveness and develops leadership for high school students.

The outcomes are geared to supporting adolescents at risk and helping them to feel safe in school or the community with support from the attending professionals and peers.

The workshops examined and identified barriers and challenges youth face, and using a proven format, with materials for later use, provide ongoing counselling and support.

SHARE Family and Community Services The "Travelers" Young Adult Group

SHARE is providing a social development group for young men and women with high functioning autism spectrum disorders in 2009 - 2010. Goals are to develop group decision making skills and independence in social settings to increase self confidence and employability.

G.V. Counsellings and Education Society for Families

Youth Support and Life Skills Training Program for Teenagers. The primary goal was to support youth with mental health challenges to adjust and integrate better into the community. This program welcomed new immigrant or immigrant youth aged 12-18, diagnosed and undiagnosed with a mental health issue.

Best Buddies

The Best Buddies friendship program gives young people with intellectual disabilities the chance to experience social interaction and friendship, increasing inclusion in schools and communities.

Volunteering for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder
18-month Pilot Project

The Fraser North Community Volunteer Connections Society investigated the role of volunteering in transitioning young people with ASD from school to community and workplace, using volunteerism as a means to developing confidence, social skills, and employability skills for young people with ASD. Because the core of Autism Spectrum Disorder is a disruption in understanding the social assumptions that seem obvious to others, addressing the unwritten social rules that will interfere with the success of a person with ASD is critical. Overall, it was found volunteering can have a positive impact on both measures of employability and community integration.

Psychiatric Outreach Program

Hope for Freedom Society. Funds were raised to provide the ongoing services of a psychiatric outreach nurse to homeless persons living with mental health challenges.

Drug addiction awareness campaign

Tri-Cities Homelessness Task Group - The Addictions-Mental Health subcommittee created a community awareness campaign on addictions.  The purpose of the campaign was to

  1. Create wareness about the complexity of addiction
  2. Increase understanding of the diverse impacts indiscriminate nature of addiction
  3. Reduce stigmatization of community members living with addiction.

SFU – Quality of Life for Families living with Developmental Disability with and without Autism

Dr. Grace Iarocci and Emily Gardiner, Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab, SFU The overall purpose of this 2 year project is to gain a more informed perspective of how FQOL may change across the lifespan of individuals with ASD, and to identify the domains that contribute most positively to families’ quality of life as well as those from which families derive the least satisfaction. In addition, this project will assess how these may change based on the current developmental stage of the family.


For more information on any of these funded activities, please contact the Executive Director at laurelfoundation@shaw.ca