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Case Studies

Canucks Autism Network (CAN)

Autism Awareness for First Responders

The Client

The Canucks Autism Network’s (CAN) mission is to provide recreation programs for individuals and families living with autism, while increasing awareness and providing training in communities across British Columbia.

Key Project Features

Canucks Autism Network logo on a photographic policeman with child background

The Need for Change

Individuals with autism are 7 times more likely to require the service of first responders than the general public, but first responders often aren’t trained to know their needs. Canucks Autism Network (CAN) wanted to help with this problem, so they designed a face-to-face training course to fill in the knowledge gap. The course was widely embraced, but there was another problem: growing demand outstripped resources. For one, it wasn’t possible to send facilitators all over the province to provide the required training, nor was scheduling an easy task. More importantly, there was a real sense of urgency: the longer it took to share this knowledge, the higher the risk individuals with autism wouldn’t get the best service possible.

The Path for Change

After many collaborative discussions, PathWise and CAN determined the following path for change:

  • the most essential elements of the face-to-face training would
    be crafted into an hour-long, custom-made eLearning course
  • stories would be collected from first responders and others who had experience working with individuals with autism
  • scenarios would be crafted to ensure training was practical, engaging, and relevant

The Approach

PathWise created a one-of-a-kind eLearning experience for CAN using Articulate 360, designed to run on multiple devices and platforms including laptops, mobile phones, and tablets.


To engage learners in “real world”, relevant situations that would maximize learning, we built the course around four challenges.

For each challenge, there are three layers of decision-making:

  • Identifying possible signs of autistic behaviour
  • Researching these behaviors
  • Creating a support strategy for how to approach the individual in need

Tokens and badges are received as each challenge is completed.


Along with video, the course also includes audio narration and character voice to guide the learner through the course and add depth to the storytelling.

Other interactive elements incorporated:

  • Drag and drop activities, with feedback for each chosen path
  • Type your own journal-type response to questions
  • Toolbox resource that allows the learner to research choices to be made
  • Printable PDF resource sheets


We conducted hours of video interviews with experienced first responders and parents of children with autism and collected powerful, direct insights and stories. Working with one of our partners About PathWise, we then edited these stories into engaging video clips to anchor the structure of the course.

This is one layer of several storytelling elements used in the course to make the information come to life.


The result is a course that engages the learner by requiring them to search for answers rather than read through material in a purely theoretical way. This emphasizes the real-life nature of the problems and the need for first responders to learn by doing. The course has had excellent reception and, most importantly, PathWise was able to meet CAN’s need to ensure that the knowledge for how to serve this valuable part of society is widely accessible. The course is now being used across Canada, as well as internationally, with over 800 first responders having taken the training.

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