TRE-ADD: Past and Present

By: Raimond Di Donato, Family Support Coach, TRE-ADD Program 

How familiar are you with the TRE-ADD program (Treatment, Research & Education for Autism and Developmental Disorders) at Surrey Place? Did you know that it includes a comprehensive school-based day treatment program designed to support children/youth with autism and related developmental disorders who have multiple and complex needs that have put their current educational placement at risk? The TRE-ADD school-based service is part of the Education and Community Partnership program within the Ministry of Education. The goal of the TRE-ADD school-based program is to help school-aged children be successful in a less intensive programmed educational setting, and since 2013, Surrey Place has successfully supported nearly 100 complex students with severe challenging behaviours!

So, you might be wondering – how do we achieve this? It all starts with an interprofessional team made of behavioural staff, medical staff, family support staff, educational staff, and other professionals. Together, our team develops an individualized and comprehensive treatment with a focus on applied behavioural analysis. 

But before TRE-ADD became part of Surrey Place, TRE-ADD had a long-standing history. In fact, it was one of many programs under Thistletown Regional Center’s banner. Follow along as we take you back in time to its origins! 

1928 – The “Palace of Sunshine”

Thistletown Regional Centre
Thistletown Regional Centre 

Thistletown Regional Centre opened in October 1928 as a branch of the Hospital for Sick Children and was affectionately described as the “Palace of Sunshine.” The hospital was designed for children who needed therapy or long-term rehabilitation from the recovery of rheumatic fever, polio, or major surgery. 

In 1957, the Ontario government purchased the property and turned it into the first residential mental health centre for children. At that time, staff didn’t receive a lot of formal training but learned as they worked with children with various disabilities, such as schizophrenia, brain injuries and developmental delays. After a learning period, the era of effective treatment began. In 1972, many children were moved from the hospital to homes constructed on the property so that they could live in a family-style group setting. 

1982 – The Beginnings of TRE-ADD

In 1982, the TRE-ADD program was officially named, with three core components: school-based classrooms, residential homes, and a respite home with a crisis bed and community support. 

School-Based Program 
The TRE-ADD program had six classrooms across Peel, Etobicoke and North York, and the classrooms were in community schools just as they are today, though many of the school locations changed over the years. 

Residential Program 
The residential program had three homes located on safe and serene grounds, which were initially designed to provide a home and community setting for children with disabilities. When the TRE-ADD program began in the early ’80s, the clients living in the homes predominately had a diagnosis of autism or developmental disability, and many of the children lived in these homes well into their adult ages until the closure of Thistletown Regional Centre in 2013. 

Respite Home 
The TRE-ADD program also had a respite home that offered services to day treatment students where they enjoyed activities like arts and crafts, games, music, walks on the grounds, the use of the gym, pool and sensory room. On weekends or during holiday breaks, many clients would also spend the day out in the community with staff going to the Toronto Zoo, the beach, skating in public rinks, Pioneer Village, Wild Water Kingdom, local farms, and more! 

2013- Present – TRE-ADD at Surrey Place 

In 2012, the Ontario government announced the closure of Thistletown Regional Center, which proved to be a challenging and uncertain time for families who came to depend on the one-stop source. When the announcement came that TRE-ADD would become the newest addition to Surrey Place in 2013, there was much relief to families and staff. 

Although TRE-ADD has gone through a period of adjustment under a new banner, it continues to shine as a beacon of hope for many families, and our goal has remained the same: “Change a client’s behaviour for the better so that their quality of life improves.” The staff and leadership resolve to keep us moving forward with helping the families who need it, and in the end, that is what truly matters. 

To learn more about all TRE-ADD services, visit our website. 

By 2 months

Has your baby had their hearing screened? YES NO

By 6 months

Does the child?

Startle in response to loud noises? YES NO
Turn to where a sound is coming from? YES NO
Make different cries for different needs (hungry, tired)? YES NO
Watch your face as you talk? YES NO
Smile/laugh in response to your smiles and laughs? YES NO
Imitate coughs or other sounds such as ah, eh, buh YES NO

By 9 months

Does the child?

Respond to their name? YES NO
Respond to the telephone ringing or a knock at the door? YES NO
Understand being told no? YES NO
Get what they want through using gestures (reaching to be picked up)? YES NO
Play social games with you (Peek-a-Boo)? YES NO
Enjoy being around people? YES NO
Babble and repeat sounds such as babababa or duhduhduh? YES NO

By 12 months

Does the child?

Follow simple one-step directions (sit down)? YES NO
Look across the room to a toy when adult points at it? YES NO
Consistently use three to five words? YES NO
Use gestures to communicate (waves hi/bye, shakes head for no)? YES NO
Get your attention using sounds, gestures and pointing while looking at your eyes? YES NO
Bring you toys to show you? YES NO
Perform for social attention and praise? YES NO
Combine lots of sounds together as though talking (abada baduh abee)? YES NO
Show an interest in simple picture books? YES NO

By 18 months

Does the child?

Understand the meaning of in and out, off and on? YES NO
Point to more than 2 body parts when asked? YES NO
Use at least 20 words consistently? YES NO
Respond with words or gestures to simple questions (Where's teddy? What's that?)? YES NO
Demonstrate some pretend play with toys (gives teddy bear a drink, pretends a bowl is a hat)? YES NO
Make at least four different consonant sounds (p ,b, m, n, d, g, w, h)? YES NO
Enjoy being read to and sharing simple books with you? YES NO
Point to pictures using one finger? YES NO

By 2 years

Does the child?

Follow two-step directions (Go find your teddy bear and show it to Grandma.)? YES NO
Use 100 to 150 words? YES NO
Use at least two pronouns (you, me, mine)? YES NO
Consistently combine two to four words in short phrases (Daddy hat. Truck go down.)? YES NO
Enjoy being around other children? YES NO
Begin to offer toys to other children and imitate other children's actions and words? YES NO
Use words that are understood by others 50 to 60 per cent of the time? YES NO
Form words or sounds easily and without effort? YES NO
Hold books the right way up and turn the pages? YES NO
Read to stuffed animals or toys? YES NO
Scribble with crayons? YES NO

By 30 months

Does the child?

Understand the concepts of size (big/little) and quantity (a little/a lot, more)? YES NO
Use some adult grammar (two cookies, bird flying, I jumped)? YES NO
Use over 350 words? YES NO
Use action words such as run, spill, fall? YES NO
Participate in some turn-taking activities with peers, using both words and toys? YES NO
Demonstrate concern when another child is hurt or sad? YES NO
Combine several actions in play (puts blocks in the train and drives the train, drops the blocks off.)? YES NO
Put sounds at the beginning of most words? YES NO
Use words with two or more syllables or beats (ba-na-na, com-pu-ter, a-pple)? YES NO
Recognize familiar logos and signs involving print (Stop sign)? YES NO
Remember and understand familiar stories? YES NO

By 3 years

Does the child?

Understand who, what, where and why questions? YES NO
Create long sentences using five to eight words? YES NO
Talk about past events (trip to grandparents house, day at child care)? YES NO
Tell simple stories? YES NO
Show affection for favourite playmates? YES NO
Engage in multi-step pretend play (pretending to cook a meal, repair a car)? YES NO
Talk in a way that most people outside of the family understand what she/he is saying most of the time? YES NO
Have an understanding of the function of print (menus, lists, signs)? YES NO
Show interest in, and awareness of, rhyming words? YES NO
Read to stuffed animals or toys? YES NO
Scribble with crayons? YES NO

By 4 years

Does the child?

Follow directions involving three or more steps (First get some paper, then draw a picture and give it to Mommy)? YES NO
Use adult type grammar? YES NO
Tell stories with a beginning, middle and end? YES NO
Talk to try and solve problems with adults and with other children? YES NO
Show increasingly complex imaginary play? YES NO
Talk in a way that is understood by strangers almost all the time? YES NO
Generate simple rhymes (cat-bat)? YES NO
Match some letters with their sounds (letter b says buh, letter t says tuh)? YES NO