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Section 3: Access to the Ontario Autism Program

The overall goal is to establish a collaborative, community-based approach to streamline access to the OAP, and to help children, youth and their families access appropriate services and supports quickly and easily.

Eligibility

All children and youth with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder from a qualified professional can access the OAP until the age of 18. Eligibility will not be defined by age or by the severity of a child’s autism.

Children and youth may be receiving or waiting for other ASD-specific or general services and supports funded by MCYS or other ministries1 and they may continue to receive these services in addition to receiving services through the OAP. Other services and supports that children are receiving will be taken into consideration in the development of the OAP Family Service Plan.

Children who may have previously been deemed ineligible for the former Autism Intervention Program (AIP), or who have been discharged from the AIP are eligible for the OAP, and will receive service according to their needs, as long as they have a diagnosis of ASD and are under the age of 18.

Referral for Services

In order to access services through the OAP, families/caregivers can self-refer to the OAP, or with the family’s consent, a referral can be made by a professional such as:

Referrals may also be received directly from the five MCYS-funded regional ASD diagnostic hubs. More information on the hubs can be found on the Ministry’s website at: www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/specialneeds/autism/diagnostic-hubs.aspx.

A written diagnosis of ASD from a qualified professional is required for referral to the OAP. Referrals for service will be accompanied by relevant assessments and other information pertaining to the child or youth and their family that will assist in the development of the OAP Family Service Plan. Where a diagnosis of ASD has been made by the referring professional, all required assessment information and documentation pertaining to that diagnosis will be included with the referral.

Single Point of Access

All referrals to the OAP are made through a single point of access in each of the nine service areas2. (Appendix D: Service areas for single points of access).

Specifically, the single point of access is required to:

Management of Referrals and Inter-Regional Transfers

The single point of access in each of the nine service areas is responsible for maintaining the OAP waitlist using a first come first served principle. Families can call the single point of access in their service delivery area or their Family Support Worker with questions regarding the waitlist and/or wait times. Providers will proactively and transparently communicate the following information with families:

New families entering the OAP will be added to the OAP waitlist in chronological order based on date of referral. While families may contact the OAP prior to receiving a written diagnosis, their child will not be placed on the wait list until the OAP service provider receives a written diagnosis of ASD from a relevant professional who is qualified to make a diagnosis.

If a family on the OAP waitlist moves to an Ontario community outside the boundaries served by the local single point of access, upon notice from the family and with their consent, the sending agency will contact the single point of access in the new home region and transfer the child or youth's date of referral and all relevant documentation to the receiving agency in the new home region. The child or youth will be added to the OAP waitlist in the new region based on the original date of referral.

If a family receiving OAP services from either a regional provider or a direct funding provider, moves to an Ontario community outside the boundaries served by the local single point of access, upon notice from the family and with their consent, the sending agency will notify the single point of access in the new home region and transfer the child or youth's date of referral and all relevant documentation to the receiving agency. The receiving single point of access in the new home region will work in partnership with the family to meet their needs and reduce any disruption in service. All efforts will be made to maintain service continuity; however, it is based on provider availability in the new home region.

If there is not currently a spot available or if the new home region is serving children or youth referred to the OAP before that of the family, the child or youth will be added to the OAP waitlist in the new region based on the original date of referral. The family will be provided with the support of a new Family Support Worker who will provide the family with information about available resources, including family services and training. The Family Support Worker will continue to support the development and/or revision of the existing OAP Family Service Plan.

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