Experiencing Autism

Currently Offered, Identity

Are you registered with CAL? Do you have an Autism diagnosis? This 8-week counselling group with a disability focus discusses a variety of topics.

The group will be facilitated by the CAL counsellor, and will provide an opportunity for students diagnosed with autism to both provide and receive support around any issues they may be struggling with, and will provide a safe environment for students to engage in dialogue, give and receive support, and connect with other students with a shared lived experience of autism. By participating in this group you will be contributing to the creation of a sense of community amongst autistic students at SFU. We will start by creating group norms together, and identifying and exploring struggles currently experienced by group members, and tailor the group to address these specific issues, with the aim of helping us to understand our experiences and explore new tools and skills for coping with these and other challenges.

Topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Navigating the social world
  • Relationships - Friendships, Family, and Dating
  • Autism, disability, and Identity
  • Emotion Regulation
  • Masking
  • Mental health conditions and diagnoses
  • Coping methods and Strategies for Success
  • Assessment and Diagnosis Experiences

These and a variety of other topics, including those brought to the group by participants, will be discussed in a way that allows group members to learn from one another in a safe space that honours and is sensitive to the unique challenges of navigating post-secondary education as an autistic student at SFU.

This group is appropriate for students who:

  • Are registered with CAL with a diagnosis of Autism 
  • Are experiencing challenges navigating their post-secondary experience 
  • Are interested in being a supportive part of a group of fellow Autistic students
  • Are willing to engage in group discussions and share about their experiences (at their own pace)
  • Can commit to attending all 8 group sessions

This is a closed group which means that once the group has started, new members will not be accepted. This allows for a sense of safety and comfort to be created amongst group members,


To register you can contact your CAL disability advisor and indicate to them that you are interested in participating in this group.

Please be specific about which group you are wanting to participate in as there is more than one group being offered this term. Your advisor will then forward you an email referral, which will contain instructions that outline how to book an intake appointment with the group facilitator. Once you have completed those steps you will meet with the facilitator for a 30 minute group screening meeting during which he will discuss with you whether the group would be a good fit for you and the possibility of your participating in the group, and answer any questions you may have.

Space in the groups is limited; once the group has filled it will be closed for the semester, and a waitlist created for those interested in joining future offerings of these groups.

2023 Schedule: 

Thursdays | 1:30pm - 3:30pm

  • Check back Fall 2023

About the Facilitator

Sean Heaslip

Registered Clinical Counsellor

Sean is the Health & Counselling counsellor liaison with the Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL), and works with CAL registrants, providing individual and group counselling services. Sean works in an experiential and emotion-focused way, and incorporates grounding and regulation techniques to help clients move through painful areas in order to regain their connection to their goals and themselves. Sean is partially blind, and possesses a lived experience of disability in both the broader world, and as a student, as Sean is also a Masters level counsellor, and current PhD candidate in counselling psychology at the University of British Columbia, having completed his pre-doctoral internship at SFU in 2020. Sean’s research areas also focus on disability issues, around seeking psychological services as a person with a disability, and the impact on blind/partially sighted people of receiving unsolicited help from sighted helpers.