Summer 2024

WHAT: Life skills and supported interactions for teens. Includes snacks.

WHEN: SkillUp runs weekly during the summer on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays
from 1 to 4 pm, July 3 – August 28 2024.

WHO: Teens who thrive in low-ratio support learning basic life and social skills

MINIMUM COMMITTMENT: 12 of 18 summer sessions

Contact Us to begin the clinic intake process, and together we will determine if SkillUp is the best fit for your family’s needs.


What is SkillUp ?

SkillUp is a joyful, affirming therapeutic program for teens with developmental delays, with a targeted focus on activities of daily living and social skills for teens. Teens work towards the goal of developing optimal independence and autonomy in their daily lives, whatever that looks like for them!

Who is involved in the program delivery?

SkillUp is run by a multi-disciplinary team of specialists, overseen by Kaley Pepin (Behaviour Analyst), in collaboration with an Occupational Therapist (OT), Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), Social Workers (MSW), Ontario Certified Teacher (OCT), Executive Function Coaches, and Behaviour Therapists.

Who is SkillUp for?

SkillUp is an ideal program for teens with special needs, notably autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ADHD, or other behavioural or developmental challenges, who are ready to move into the activation phase of their skill development. They have learned foundational skills for activities of daily living, and are ready to apply these functional skills in real-life situations. 

We offer a concurrent ‘SkillUp+’ pod for teens who need less intensive behavioural support, and more ‘adulting’ life skills training, with peers whose developmental stage is a good match.

What happens at SkillUp ?

SkillUp incorporates skills and goals that are specific to the teen/young adult age group, targeted to the individual participants. In SkillUp, teens are equipped with strategic tools to prepare them for life, with a focus on encouraging autonomy in task execution and completion. A typical day starts with an independent activity, followed by the group collaborating to create a schedule for the day based on the given activity, with time included for physical activity and free time. Life skills and social skills, for example, the importance of personal care, are taught in a group setting.

We take full advantage of the home-like setting of our clinic, using our fantastic kitchen, therapeutic pets, and backyard space. Life skills include activities such as: 

  • Understanding money and making a budget
  • Making a grocery list & going shopping
  • Measuring ingredients & following recipes to cook lunch or bake snacks
  • Caring for and interacting with our therapy animals (dogs, turtles, hamsters, fish)
  • Gathering information for group projects (eg polling staff and working with the data)
  • Working on culminating tasks that contribute to the life of the clinic
  • Learning to run a washing machine and dryer
  • Caring for and interacting with our therapeutic pets (lizards, hamsters, turtles, fish, dogs)
  • Leadership opportunities and working with choices
  • Independent work and learning strategies

These skills are applied in real-time with OT support, and the program includes off-site outings and opportunities to ‘road test’ skills in the wider world in a safe, supported manner. Teens are coached to develop distress tolerance and emotion regulation skills, where they learn how to cope with the stress, change, and social problem-solving that come with being a human operating inside a family, a school, and the wider community.

Where and When does SkillUp happen?

From our Ancaster location in a spacious, natural setting, SkillUp currently offers programming on Sundays from 2 to 5pm during the school year for teens from across Hamilton, Halton, Brant, Halton, and Niagara. It is designed as a long-term developmental support program. Families commit to a minimum of one term at a time, to give their child the consistency required to see support plans through to meaningful fruition.