March 26, 2015 Meeting: Pacific Autism Family Centre

Sergio Cocchia, President & Board Chair of the Pacific Autism Family Centre

Mr. Cocchia is an unstoppable force on behalf of his own Autistic son and other families affected by Autism. He is one of the visionaries behind The Pacific Autism Family Centre, scheduled to open in September 2016, and a fundraiser on its behalf. Twenty million dollars has been contributed by the Government of British Columbia, in recognition that this neurobiological disorder occurs at rates that exceed juvenile diabetes, pediatric aids, schizophrenia, cancer and cystic fibrosis combined.

Families want and need a comprehensive approach. The Pacific Autism Family Centre will be a Centre of Excellence based in Richmond, with 8 regional centres throughout B.C., and will be viewed as a global hub.   The Centre is intended to provide a welcoming and well-equipped facility from which service providers and community groups will run programs to serve individuals with autism. It is to include the following:

  • Treatment Centre – best practice pre-school and after school programs,

assessment, intervention, support.

  • Knowledge Centre – library, videoconferencing, networking, counselling,

current, accurate, evidenced based information

  • Leadership space   – collaborative office space for specialists

encouragement of dialogue between experts and innovation

  • Lifespan Centre   – Youth and adults, vocational, social and educational.


Objectives include sharing information, influencing policy makers, and ensuring accountability. Advisory committees will provide oversight.


Relevance to Square Peg Society

A centralized, customized, and comprehensive approach which incorporates cutting age research and technology is long overdue. Hopefully, it will eliminate or dissipate some of the problems now facing our young adults and improve outcomes for younger people.

The Centre is open to suggestions for programs to include. Square Peg Society has proposed a monthly cooking club, to offer life skills/employment training and social exchange. It would run Monday evenings in the commissary kitchen at the Centre. SPS would provide the chefs and food, and the Centre would provide the kitchen and dining space.

It appears that most of the activities will take place in the physical location of Richmond. It is not clear how services will be duplicated in the regional branches.

For more information: