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Host Chapter: Halifax Categories: Adults

Pinwheel Wellness Centre

Pinwheel Wellness Centre supports Autistic adults/adults with autism who are experiencing mild-to-moderate mental health distress. The Pinwheel Wellness interdisciplinary team consists of Social Workers, Counselling Therapists, Occupational Therapists, a Sexologist, and a Sexuality Educator, who all have professional experience working with autistic adults. Pinwheel Wellness Centre is also a teaching centre for students completing placements in each of these fields, as well as other related fields.


Ages/Life Stage:

Pinwheel Wellness Centre supports Autistic adults/individuals on the autism spectrum who are experiencing mild-to-moderate mental health distresson a short-term basis (8-10 sessions). The Centre hosts an interdisciplinary team consisting of Counselling Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, a Sexologist, and a Sexuality Educator who have professional knowledge of the autism experience. Pinwheel Wellness Centre is also a teaching centre for students completing field placements in each of these areas of practice, as well as other areas of study.

Location:

Bedford Place Mall | 1658 Bedford Highway, Suite 55
Bedford, NS B4A 2X9

The centre is based in Bedford, Nova Scotia (Bedford Place Mall); however, individuals across Nova Scotia can access the Centre’s interdisciplinary team and students either remotely (through various telehealth options), by phone, or in-person through the centre. Centre services are offered by appointment only (no walk-in appointments are available at this time).

Referral Overview:

When a referral is made to the Pinwheel Wellness Centre, the intake coordinator will reach out to the individual about the eligibility of services. To be eligible, the individual must be 18 years or older; have a confirmed diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder or exploring an autism diagnosis; be experiencing mild-to-moderate mental health distress; must be working towards gaining or maintaining employment or report mental health as a barrier to pursuing employment (including post-secondary students) and must reside within the province of Nova Scotia.

If deemed eligible, an intake session will be booked with the individual. The session length will be approximately 1 hour (60 minutes). Once the intake is complete, the intake coordinator will make the appropriate referral within the Centre and/or within the community.

We are currently experiencing a high volume of referrals. Please allow the intake coordinator two to three weeks (2-3) weeks to contact you via e-mail or phone about the next steps and our waitlist once the referral is placed online.

Counselling and Occupational Therapy Wait List:

Please Note: Our counselling therapy team is currently at maximum capacity. There is currently a waitlist to access counselling at the Pinwheel Wellness Centre. The anticipated wait time to access services is early 2023.

Please continue to place referrals online, and a member of our team will be in contact with an approximate wait time to access counselling services through the Centre.

If you have questions about accessing services, please e-mail the Centre Supervisor at pinwheel@autismns.ca.

Hours of Operation:

The Pinwheel Wellness Centre will respond to calls and e-mails between the hours of 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday to Friday. Emails and phone calls are not checked outside office hours. Contact outside of a session time will be limited to scheduling. 

Due to a high volume of inquiries, please allow Centre staff 1-2 business days to return your call and/or e-mail.

Contact Us:

To access services at Pinwheel Wellness, please complete the referral form.

For more information, please contact us at pinwheel@autismns.ca or (782) 321-8811 

Please Note: The Pinwheel Wellness Centre is not an emergency or crisis service. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or need immediate support, please contact a Mental Health Crisis Line, or one of the following below:

Additional Information:

View our Access Guide here.

Ray Frizzell, MACP, RCT, CCC 

• Wellness Centre Supervisor
• Lead Counselling Therapist

Pronouns: (he/him) 

rfrizzell@autismns.ca

Pamela Secci, MSW, RSW 

  • Intake Coordinator 
  • Registered Social Worker 

Pronouns: (she/her) 

psecci@autismns.ca

Adrean Ojoleck, MScOT, Reg. (NS)

  • Occupational Therapist
  • Life Skills Group Coordinator

Pronouns: (they/them)

aojoleck@autismns.ca

Alison David, MACP, RCT-C  

• Counselling Therapist
• Interim – SibsConnect Program Coordinator

Pronouns: (she/her) 

adavid@autismns.ca 

Alyssa (Ali) McCulloch, MBSc, MPH

  • Sexuality Educator
  • HRSA Coordinator

Pronouns: (she/her)

amcculloch@autismns.ca

Yevonne Le Lacheur, MEd, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, CSE, CS

  • Sexologist
  • Counselling Therapist
  • HRSA Director  

yevonne.lelacheur@autismns.ca

Katelyn Junus, LMSW, RSW, CAS

  • Individual Therapist
  • Registered Social Worker
  • Registered LivingWorks ASIST Trainer

Pronouns: (she/her)

kjunus@autismns.ca

Pronouns: (she/her) 

Kirsten Spasyouti, MACP, RCT-C, CCC  

  • Counselling Therapist

Pronouns: (she/her) 

kspasyouti@autismns.ca 

(On Maternity Leave)

 

How to Get Connected:

Click Here

  • An individual can fill out the referral form on their own (self-referral)
  • Or a professional, caregiver, family or friend can fill out the referral form 
  • If an individual would like assistance filling out the referral form, they can contact the Centre by email or phone or fill out form (please allow 1-2 business days for a Centre staff member to return your call or e-mail) 

If an individual is eligible for services, the intake coordinator will contact them to schedule an intake appointment within seven to ten (7-10) business days from the day the referral was submitted. 

Counselling Wait List:  

Please Note: Our counselling therapy team is currently at maximum capacity. There is currently a waitlist to access counselling at the Pinwheel Wellness Centre. The anticipated wait time to access services is early September 2022.

Please continue to place referrals online and a member of our team will be in contact with an approximate wait time to access counselling services through the Centre.  If you have any questions about access services, please e-mail the Centre Supervisor at pinwheel@autismns.ca.

What to Expect in the Intake Meeting: 

An intake meeting is an information gathering session and the first appointment at the Centre. The individual will meet with the Centre’s intake coordinator, who will go over a series of questions so they can learn more about them and help connect to services. 

What to Expect Before the Intake Meeting: 

After receiving the completed referral form, the Centre’s intake coordinator will reach out to the individual by either phone or e-mail to schedule an intake meeting. The intake coordinator will be in contact to schedule an intake meeting within seven to ten (7-10) business days from the day the referral was submitted 

Services are available to individuals across the province of Nova Scotia. If an individual lives in the Halifax area (or would like to drive in), an in-person meeting can be scheduled at the Centre in Bedford Place Mall. If the individual prefers to meet virtually, the intake coordinator can set up a meeting through telehealth (Zoom) or phone call. 

Due to a high volume of interest, please allow the intake coordinator seven to ten to fourteen (10-14) business days to schedule this meeting.

What to Expect During the Intake Meeting:

The intake coordinator will meet with the individual for one hour (60 minutes) to review a series of questions and consent forms to connect the individual to services within the Centre or in the community.

Example Questions:

  • In your own words, how can the Centre best support you? 
  • What things help make you feel better? 
  • What mental health services have you connected to in the past? 
  • How was your experience? 

An individual may not know the answer to all of these questions during the intake meeting, and that is okay! The Centre staff are available to support one through this process.

What to Expect After your Intake Appointment:

After the intake meeting, the Centre’s intake coordinator will follow up by e-mail or phone with a few recommendations of services. The individual may be connected to another Pinwheel Wellness Centre team member, an Autism Nova Scotia program, or they may be connected to a service outside of Autism Nova Scotia. This will all depend on the information shared during the intake, which will help the intake coordinator coordinate services to best support the individual.  

For more information, please contact us at pinwheel@autismns.ca or (782) 321-8811

What is Counselling Therapy?
Counselling Therapy is a process where the therapist supports the client(s) in identifying, developing and using supports to increase personal growth, wellbeing and mental health. The counselling therapy relationship is collaborative between the therapist and the client and is a mutual space guided by the client’s values, wants and needs.

Common areas of support counselling therapy can help with are:
• Anxiety
• Low mood
• Grief & loss
• Depression
• Life transitions
• Difficult thoughts or feelings
• Identity exploration/navigation
• Feelings of isolation and loneliness
• Sexuality (gender & sexual orientation)
• Body image & challenging relationships with food and eating
• Relationships (family, friendships, co-workers, sexual/romantic)
• and many other areas

For more information, please contact us at pinwheel@autismns.ca or (782) 321-8811

Meet our Counselling Therapy Team:  

Ray Frizzell, MACP, RCT, CCC 

• Wellness Centre Supervisor
• Lead Counselling Therapist

Pronouns: (he/him) 

rfrizzell@autismns.ca

Alison David, MACP, RCT-C  

• Counselling Therapist
• Interim – SibsConnect Program Coordinator

Pronouns: (she/her) 

adavid@autismns.ca 

Katelyn Junus, LMSW, RSW, CAS

  • Individual Therapist
  • Registered Social Worker
  • Registered LivingWorks ASIST Trainer

Pronouns: (she/her)

kjunus@autismns.ca

Pronouns: (she/her)

Yevonne Le Lacheur, MEd, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, CSE, CS

  • Sexologist
  • Counselling Therapist
  • HRSA Director  

yevonne.lelacheur@autismns.ca

Kirsten Spasyouti, MACP, RCT-C, CCC  

  • Counselling Therapist

Pronouns: (she/her) 

kspasyouti@autismns.ca 

(On Maternity Leave)

What is Occupational Therapy? 

Occupational Therapy is a health profession that promotes health through occupations. Occupations refer to activities. These include activities people do to take care of themselves, activities they do for fun, and activities they do that make themselves feel proud. An Occupational Therapist will support a person in doing their everyday occupations by considering the individuals personal, environmental, and occupational health.

Meet our Occupational Therapy Team:  

Adrean Ojoleck, MScOT, Reg. (NS)

  • Occupational Therapist
  • Life Skills Group Coordinator

Pronouns: (they/them)

aojoleck@autismns.ca

What is Social Work?

A social worker supports individuals in accessing and coordinating services that they may find difficult to navigate on their own. Social Workers assist individuals in communicating their needs, empowering individuals by providing them with tools to advocate more effectively and exploring strategies to deal with life challenges.

The Centre’s social worker has mapped out information about various services provided by organizations throughout Nova Scotia. If the Pinwheel Wellness Centre does not offer a service that can support an individual, the Centre’s social worker and/or student(s) will endeavor to give the individual information on a program or service that can; this process is called service navigation.

Meet our Social Work Team:

Pamela Secci, MSW, RSW 

  • Intake Coordinator 
  • Registered Social Worker 

Pronouns: (she/her) 

psecci@autismns.ca

pinwheel@autismns.ca

What is Sexuality Education?

A sexuality educator provides education and training to individuals on sexuality topics in a wide range of settings to people across the lifespan. Sexuality educators develop curriculum, workshops, seminars, deliver programs, and provide individualized educational services to individuals.

Meet our Sexuality Education Team:

Alyssa (Ali) McCulloch, BMSc, MPH   

  • Healthy Relationships, Sexuality & Autism Coordinator 
  • HRSA Trained Sexuality Educator 

Email: amcculloch@autismns.ca
Phone: 782-321-7723  

Yevonne Le Lacheur, MEd, MEd, RCT-C, CCC, CSE, CS 

  • Healthy Relationships, Sexuality & Autism Director 
  • AASECT Certified Sexuality Educator  
  • Counselling Therapist 
  • Sexologist 

Email: yevonne.lelacheur@autismns.ca
Phone: 782-414-8036 

Our Current Sexuality Education Programs:

HRSA- Adult Program:  
The HRSA-Adult program is a Comprehensive Sexuality Education program designed specifically for Autistic adults (ages 19+). This program is delivered both in person and virtually through Zoom, depending on the cohort.

HRSA- Youth Program:  
The HRSA-Youth program is a Comprehensive Sexuality Education program designed specifically for Autistic youth (ages 15-18). This program is delivered both in person and virtually through Zoom, depending on the cohort.
 
HRSA-Caregiver Program:
 
The HRSA-Caregiver program is an introductory program to the concepts of Comprehensive Sexuality Education program designed specifically for parents/caregivers of Autistic family members. This program is delivered both in person and virtually through Zoom, depending on the cohort.

Professional Sexuality & Autism Training:
Autism Nova Scotia provides sexuality related training and education for professionals supporting Autistic people in various settings.
https://campus.autismnovascotia.ca/PreRegister.php 

Free Sexuality Resource Library:
These FREE information sheets are for Autistic people, caregivers, professionals, and anyone who may need accessible information on topics of sexuality and relationships. They were created by sexuality educators, a counselling therapist, and an Autistic advocate. The information sheets are based on comprehensive, sex positive, sexuality education information.
https://www.exploringthespectrum.ca/hrsa-resources 

Sexuality Resource Store:
These for fee lessons, activities, tool kits and resources for Autistic people, caregivers, professionals, and anyone who may need accessible information on topics of sexuality and relationships that are more in-depth and specific to teaching than those in the free resource library. They were created by sexuality educators, a counselling therapist, and an Autistic advocate. The information sheets are based on comprehensive, sex positive, sexuality education information.
https://www.exploringthespectrum.ca/shop-for-resources/healthy-relationships-and-sexuality 

 

For more information, please contact: 
Yevonne Le Lacheur 
Email: yevonne.lelacheur@autismns.ca 
Phone: 782-414-8036 

Therapy groups at Pinwheel Wellness are facilitated by team members consisting of counselling therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, sexuality educators and field placement students. All therapy groups are open to individuals already accessing Pinwheel Wellness Centre services and to individuals interested in obtaining services for the first time (based on eligibility of the group and criteria outlined on the main page). 
 
If an individual is already accessing services at the Centre, they will only need to complete a pre-screen assessment for the program to ensure that it is a good fit for them. This pre-screen will be completed by one of the group facilitators.   
 
If an individual is interested in accessing services through Pinwheel Wellness for the first time, they will need to complete an intake meeting with the Centre’s intake coordinator in addition to the pre-screen assessment. 
 
Therapy groups run for four (4) to eight (8) weeks for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour per session. 
 
For more information, please contact us at pinwheel@autismns.ca or (782) 321-8811 

Life Skills Group

Pinwheel Wellness Centre’s Life Skills Group is a series of eight (8) free virtual sessions providing an opportunity for Autistic adults/individuals on the autism spectrum, 18 and older, across the province of Nova Scotia to learn and develop skills in a group setting
 
With an increase in mental health challenges stemming from the pandemic, life skills group aims to address some of these challenges through facilitated group discussions and peer support. Sessions will focus on informed decision making, recognizing personal strengths, problem-solving, communication, self-esteem, and self-advocacy. Each discussion group will be led by three Pinwheel Wellness students along with either the Centre’s Social Worker or Occupational Therapist who will host each session and provide support to student facilitators and individuals of the group.    

Our current cohort is full. We will post more information about our next cohort soon!  

Life Skills Group will run once a week on Thursday evenings for 45 minutes virtually.

The group will cover topics such as: 

  • Money Management (budgeting, spending & saving) 
  • Meal Planning (grocery shopping & cooking basics)
  • Personal Care (personal hygiene, relaxation, sleep hygiene)
  • Community Safety (public safety/awareness, cyber safety/awareness, etc.) 
  • Home Maintenance (cleaning & laundry)   
  • Daily Routine(s) (organization, time management& scheduling) 

The goal is for individuals of the group to experience improved self-esteem, confidence, and problem-solving abilities by acquiring new like skills; all while strengthening participants’ sense of community and social connection. 

For more information, please contact us at pinwheel@autismns.ca or (782) 321-8811 

Anxiety Management Group

Pinwheel Wellness Centre’s Anxiety Management Group is a series of four virtual sessions providing opportunities for Autistic adults/individuals on the autism spectrum, 18 years of age and older who live in Nova Scotia, to learn and develop skills in a group setting. 
 
Anxiety Management Group aims to support Autistic adults/individuals on the autism who are experiencing mild anxiety symptoms and will put a focus on both education and teaching strategies that the individual can use to support themselves. Sessions will also provide the opportunity for peer-support on various topics with the discussions being facilitated and supported by two Pinwheel Wellness students with supervision provided by one of the Centre’s Counselling Therapists. 

The group will run once a week in the evening for 1-hour. The group will cover topics such as: 

  • What is anxiety?
  • Coping strategies
  • Self-care and prevention strategies
  • Support systems – how to build and maintain one

Registration is currently delayed due to COVID-19 protocols; however, we are aiming to have it open in the summer of 2022.  

When: TBD

Where: Virtually (Zoom)

For more information, please contact us at pinwheel@autismns.ca or (782) 321-8811 

The Women’s Autism/Autistic Project (WA/AP)  

The Women’s Autism/Autistic Project aims to bring Autistic women and teen girls together to connect with each other in a safe, non-judgemental, and welcoming environment. Recognizing that women can experience autism differently to peers who are of other genders, the Women’s Autism/Autistic Project aims to create a safe and comfortable environment for Autistic women/women who have autism to connect and relate to one another. The project aims to provide new opportunities for making friends, share meaningful experiences, mutual interests, and empowerment. The WA/AP programs are free to join. 

WA/AP Adult Group

When: The adult group of WA/AP is a social group that meets once a month on a Wednesday evening from 6:00-7:00 PM

Where: 5945 Spring Garden Road, Halifax, NS 

The group is open to Autistic women ages 19 and older, no formal diagnosis is required to join.

WA/AP Teen Girls Social & Wellness Program 

Teen Girls Social & Wellness Program aims to support participants in making social connections in a safe non-judgemental environment that promotes empowerment, autonomy, self-esteem, and well-being. 

Topics include:

  • Values
  • Emotions
  • Friendship
  • Personal boundaries
  • Self-care

When: The program consists of 7 sessions happening twice a month for 1.5 hours on a Wednesday evening from 6:00-7:30 pm

Where: Autism Nova Scotia, 5945 Spring Garden Road, Halifax, NS 

Registration for the Adult Group and Teen Girls is currently closed. For more information, please contact Kathleen Watson at kwatson@autismns.ca.

SibsCONNECT

Sibling relationships are typically the longest lasting relationships within a family unit, and therefore siblings play a huge role in the overall development of each other. Siblings are often each other’s first best friends, first advocates, and the first person they may go to when they have a problem or something good to share. Therefore, providing opportunities to create a positive sibling relationship is so important. 

SibsCONNECT is a free 12-session program designed for the siblings of Autistic individuals. Facilitated by adult siblings or service providers who show interest in working within the field. SibsCONNECT was created to be a safe and nonjudgmental environment where participants will be provided with an opportunity to explore their thoughts, feelings and experiences when it comes to their autistic sibling with others who understand. Through play-based activities, participants are encouraged to have fun, gain friendships, and create a positive outlook on their role as a sibling. 

Topics include:

  • My sibling has autism – What does that mean?
  • The role of a sibling
  • Coping strategies
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Advocacy
  • Being treated differently from your sibling
  • Spending time with your sibling
  • The W’s of talking about your sibling
  • Outings with your family

During the pilot phase, SibsCONNECT worked with participants between the ages of 9 and 12 years old who had a sibling that was suspected of or had a provisional or confirmed diagnosis of autism. Sessions were held within the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), were conducted in English, and had both an in-person and online method of delivery, based on provincial regulations surrounding COVID-19. 

At this time, as long as a participant remains within the eligibility criteria of the SibsCONNECT program, they are permitted to attend more than one cohort.

Please watch our website and our social media pages for information regarding the next registration period! For more information, please contact Alison David at adavid@autismns.ca.

Resource Packets

SibsCONNECT is creating resources for siblings, caregivers, service providers and others within the community to learn more about the sibling relationship. Please see below for completed packets.

Download Caregiver Resource Packet
Download Service Provider Resource Packet

For more information, please contact us at pinwheel@autismns.ca or (782) 321-8811 

Field Placement Offerings: 

  • Master of Science in Occupational Therapy programs  
  • Master of Education in Counselling Therapy programs   
  • Master of Arts in Counselling Therapy programs 
  • Master of Social Work programs  
  • Bachelor of Social Work programs 
  • Bachelor of Health Promotion programs  
  • Bachelor of Music Therapy programs     
  • Bachelor of Recreation Therapy programs  

Student Internship Application Process:  

1. Complete the Autism Nova Scotia Student Placement Application:

If you are interested in completing your student placement with Autism Nova Scotia, please complete this application. 

  • This application takes about 30-45 minutes to complete 
  • Once completed the application will be sent directly to our Student Intake Coordinator. They will be in contact with you in 5-7 business days

*Please Note: Applications are reviewed on a “first-come-first-serve” basis. 
 
Autism Nova Scotia requires all of the following information before placements will be reviewed. These documents can be uploaded into the application directly: 

  • Criminal Record Check with Vulnerable Sector Check 
  • Child Abuse Registry Check 
  • Resume 
  • School Contract 
  • Placement package 

Additionally, student applicants will be asked to review and sign the following documents, as part of the application process: 

  • Confidentiality Policy 
  • Conflict of Interest Policy 
  • Internet Policy 
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Code of Professional Conduct 
  • COVID policies 
  • COVID proof of vaccinations 

*Please Note: Applications are not processed until all the information outlined above is provided to the Autism Nova Scotia Student Placement Coordinator. 

2. Attend a Student Placement Interview:

Autism Nova Scotia’s Student Intake Coordinator reviews all Student Applications and connects with all student to arrange an interview. 
 
Interviews are held at Autism Nova Scotia (5945 Spring Garden Road, Halifax) at a time that works best for the student and Program Director. The interview typically takes 30 minutes. 
 
This interview is to help Student Intake Coordinator gain an understanding of the student’s background, interests and future career plans. This supports the Student Intake Coordinator in deciding if Autism Nova Scotia is able to offer a placement applicable to the student’s program recruitments. 
 
*Students are asked to bring their school’s placement package and a resume to this interview.

3. Attend Mandatory Student Placement Training: 

All students are required to complete Autism Nova Scotia’s online training module. This will be provided to students after all the interview. Students will be required to upload their certificate of completion to the BetterImpact application.

4. Connect to your Pinwheel Wellness Site Supervisor:

Once all the onboarding is completed the Student Intake Coordinator will connect accepted students to their Autism Nova Scotia Site Supervisor.

For more information, please contact the Autism Nova Scotia Student Intake Coordinator, Kathleen Watson at kwatson@autismns.ca or by calling 902-446-4995.

Contact:

Ray Frizzell, Centre Supervisor


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