Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex, lifelong condition that affects individuals from all walks of life, their families, friends and caregivers. Autism is a spectrum disorder defined by certain behaviors which come in combinations and in degrees of intensity that vary in each child and adult affected. ASD can be characterized along a spectrum, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe and often including repetitive behavior and difficulties with social interaction, communication and learning.
Hi. I’m Melissa and I have a friend named Iain. Iain has autism. Iain will be graduating high school in June and will be joining the LEAP community at 21 Ossington Ave in Toronto.
The mission of LEAP, Lifelong Experiences and Academic Program, is to not only bring a modern sustainable design concept to the users, but also to find the lost voice within and to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders. We will strive to raise public awareness of autism and the effects it takes not only on the individuals who have this disorder, but also the families and society around them. LEAP is committed to teaching skills that will provide a strong foundation for our individuals to become independent, productive and contributing members of the community. This will be achieved through the various programs offered through LEAP. These include life skill and educational programs as well as in house job opportunities that will help our users succeed. We believe that LEAP will have a positive impact on Toronto. With the support of the government and surrounding community, we are committed to raising the funds necessary to meet our goals and help find the missing pieces of the puzzle.
Iain will commute to LEAP by TTC with a drop off located at the front door, or by his caregiver who will be able to park in the back private parking lot. Iain will make his way inside where he will see an open natural concept through materials and design features in the space.
He will stop off at reception to tap in with his own personal LEAP membership. LEAP memberships are designed to keep track of who and how many people are in the building. The reception desk along with the brick wall, will be built from reclaimed materials from the existing demolition of the building. This will be seen throughout the space mainly in the reclaimed flooring and wall features, as this building will promote sustainable design elements.
LEAP understands that a balanced diet and exercise is important. We have incorporated a walking track within the building to promote fitness. This is one of Iain’s favourite activites. This track was designed to replicate the feeling and sound of walking through a forest.
This not only brings calm sensory elements, but it also brings the exterior into the interior. With its base of artificial turf and its structure of reclaimed barn board, it allows artificial and natural light to shine through and create shadows along the path.
Within the centre of the track, LEAP’s library offers four individual quiet rooms that Iain and the other partons are able to use. In here, Iain is able to use the smart board to play games or movies.
Iain can move from the track to the computer area where he can watch his favourite show, High 5, on the computers.The computer space is designed for individual or group computer use.
Many people with autism enjoy the movement of rocking. These computer desks are designed to allow for this. The seats are able to swing back and forth, but are also able to be removed for a barrier free access for those in wheel chairs.
Iain can then move to the community area. Here he will be able to interact with the other members of LEAP by playing games, or sitting down for a group movie that will be projected on the white wall.
Here at LEAP, we believe in a sense of community. Common Grounds is the café located within LEAP that is open to the public. This space will be sectioned off with an interesting ceiling feature that designates the area through light dispensed on the ground from natural and artificial light. This shows the area boundaries without closing off the space. Common Grounds provides the members with hands-on experience of holding a job. With the community around LEAP and the members themselves purchasing goods, the café will allow LEAP to be self-sufficient.
The main connection between the two floor plains is an acrylic slip resistant transparent staircase. This stair case will be lit up from underneath with plants growing below it. This will follow with the theme of natural nature elements and create an interesting focal point.
Linking back to the first floor, Common Grounds, the produce for the café will be provided by the in house green house. This space will provide wall to wall and floor to ceiling glass walls that will house individual green boxes. Each user will have their own box that they will grow produce in. This space will allow Iain to learn how to garden and grow his own food for the café. This space will also allow Iain to learn how to cook and bake in the kitchens provided. These kitchens provide a clean work environment while also providing a kitchen that is designed for a member who is in a wheel chair. The ceiling heights of this space drop lower than the existing hallway spaces. This will allow for a smaller space to allow for the members to concentrate on the given task.
After cooking, baking and working in Common Grounds, Iain will then be able to clean his own uniform in the laundry room located beside the Life Skills Kitchens. The laundry room provides a barrier free design of washers and dryers along with folding areas.
Iain will then continue his life skills teaching as he makes his way to 21 Ossington’s Apartments. Here he will find himself learning how to be self-efficient. LEAP will provide teaching skills that will allow him to learn how to make his own bed, use the washroom facilities and also prepare a quick snack. These apartments provide barrier free design and easy access to all amenities.
Iain can then make his way to one of the four classrooms provided. These classrooms will provide lower ceiling heights for better interaction and concentration with less acoustical noise. They will also be lit up from the building’s glass façade that will balance not only the lighting in the space, but also the colour reflection from the glass panels. Here, he will learn about everyday life skills. LEAP will teach the members how to count money to help with Common Grounds, along with everyday life experiences. They will also have the chance to interact with other members and learn important everyday skills needed for them to be successful.
After a long day of work and learning, Iain will be able to relax in the sensory rooms. Here, he will be able to choose from the two black rooms or the two white rooms. This will allow Iain to be relaxed for his mission home.
Finally, before leaving, Iain will walk by the skylight that connects the two floor plans together. Here, he will be able to see throughout his time at LEAP, the tree grow like he will within the community of LEAP and its exterior surroundings.