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Welcome to Society for Treatment of Autism

Society for Treatment of Autism (STA) is an Alberta-based registered charitable organization providing comprehensive treatment, educational and consulting services for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families. STA offers its services throughout Alberta and, other parts of the country, when requested.

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In 1972, a group of parents appealed to then Premier Peter Lougheed, to build a residential facility for children with autism. As a result, a side by side duplex was purchased next to the original Alberta Children’s Hospital in S.W. Calgary. Following renovations, the facility opened in 1973, with 6 children being accepted into the program from the Psychiatric and Education Centre at the hospital. It was named Margaret House in honour of Dr. Margaret Horne, who worked with the children and families at that time.

In 1975, when Margaret House was unable to accommodate the growing demand, the parents approached the Brothers of Our Lady of Lourdes who operated Don Bosco House, a residence for boys in S.E. Calgary, to see if they had space to accommodate the children with autism. Because the demand for the service they provided was decreasing, they agreed to take in the original 6 children and others as required. The number quickly grew to 20 children so the aging Brothers decided to retire their operation and asked the parents if they would be interested in buying the property.

Funding was secured from the province and the Calgary Mental Health Involvement Society was asked to operate the new Margaret House and to manage the funding until an autism-specific organization was formed. In 1976, Society for Treatment of Autism (Calgary Region) (STA) was incorporated with a board of directors comprised of parents, community members and government representatives. A school classroom operated by Calgary Board of Education was opened on-site in 1979 with a teacher seconded to STA.


Up until 1980, the program was seen as a life-long home for the children accepted into the residence in 1975. 1980 marked the beginning of the transition from residence to active treatment centre with the advent of discharge criteria that included reaching the age of majority. In 1985, the classroom was relocated to neighboring Fred Parker School with classroom assistants provided by STA. The government of Alberta also agreed to provide a consulting psychiatrist to the program to augment the dynamic treatment regimes that were being developed. In 1988, STA expanded to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where it facilitated the development and oversight of many quality programs until 2008.

In 1989, STA established Discovery Centre, an integrated daycare for children aged 2-5yrs. The mandate was changed to Early Childhood Services (ECS) in the early 1990s in order to focus directly on children with autism. About this time, to complement its existing services, STA introduced Speech and Language therapy for its clients followed shortly thereafter, with the hiring of an Occupational Therapist. Also in the 1990s, treatment modules were broadened to treat children in their own homes as well as in classrooms. Our home-based services are still an important component of our service delivery system. Additionally, Acadia House was opened as a transition home for individuals leaving Margaret House for a less intensive treatment environment, preparing them to move on to other community-based services. The school program was also closed because we began sending our children to a number of kindergartens and schools within the community.

The beginning of the 21st Century saw many changes for STA. A hugely successful capital campaign resulted in the building of a new facility that accommodates the majority of the Treatment Team, Community Based Options early intervention program classrooms, individual therapy and sensory rooms; a fitness centre and a Board room. Margaret House was also totally renovated and was renamed Husky Energy Centre for Autism (HECA) in recognition of the significant support provided by Husky Energy.

Currently, STA operates the following programs: Husky Energy Centre for Autism- Residential Treatment Program and Therapeutic After-Care, Adolescent and Adult Vocational and Life Skills Training, Community Based Options -Early Intervention Programs, Community Education and Consultation Services to various school jurisdictions, programs, fee-for-service treatment consultations, workshops and training. All services are provided by a multi-disciplinary team consisting of psychologists, behavioural consultants, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, teachers, early intervention therapists, behavioural therapists, adolescent and adult facilitators, program supervisors and managers.

While we would like to be able to treat more children, our service capacity is dictated by funding. In this regard, the Government of Alberta has stepped up to ensure that individuals with ASD in the province receive the best treatment services possible. However, we must rely on community support to continue to grow and develop our services. The creation of every Society for Treatment of Autism program was led by community requests in response to changing needs. Our future expansion plans include an intensive small group residential treatment program for high need adolescents and young adults and a small group residential transition program for individuals ready to move into less intensive community environments.

At Society for Treatment of Autism, we are proud of the gains we’ve made in autism treatment. We’ve created and sustained successful treatment, educational and consultation services with the help of a very supportive community.

Our Mission

Society for Treatment of Autism is a provincial resource and registered charity providing individualized treatment that is both developmentally appropriate, and empirically based. Services are specialized to meet the needs of persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families. Programming is designed, implemented, and supported by a multidisciplinary team. We offer a diverse range of treatment programs across a range of environments (e.g., home, community, and/or treatment centre) that are designed to enhance participation in all aspects of life. Our goal is to support those we serve to achieve their maximum potential.