Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnostic Hubs


Getting an Autism Diagnostic Assessment

If you have concerns about your child’s development, it is best to make an appointment with your child’s doctor as soon as possible.

Many parents are unsure of what to expect or how to prepare for their child’s appointment. You should expect your doctor to ask a few questions that will lead to a discussion about your child’s development and behaviour. These may be related to the frequency of behaviours, when symptoms were first noticed, the timing of developmental milestones, your family’s medical history and what prompted your visit.

Families can receive a diagnosis of autism from qualified professionals who have undergone specific training. These include, but are not limited to, doctors (such as family physicians, pediatricians, developmental pediatricians, and psychiatrists), psychologists and psychological associates, and nurse practitioners.

Families can also contact a local diagnostic hub, funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, for a diagnostic assessment. Contact information is below.

Autism is diagnosed based on a combination of specific behaviours, communication delays, and/or developmental disabilities, rather than only one factor or symptom. Diagnosing professionals use the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and other assessment tools to conduct the assessment.

For more information on autism and how to support your child and family following a diagnostic assessment, Autism Speaks Canada has developed a 100 Day Kit for Young Children.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnostic Hubs

Diagnosing children earlier and faster is critical to help children access services as quickly as possible. Once children have a written diagnosis from a qualified professional, families can register for the Ontario Autism Program.

The ministry funds five diagnostic hubs to provide access to diagnostic assessments. The hubs are designed to improve the availability of more timely assessments so that children can start accessing services quickly. Families are not required to get a diagnosis from the diagnostic hubs to access the Ontario Autism Program.

How the Hubs Work

The hubs are improving the availability of more timely diagnostic assessments so that children can start accessing services as quickly as possible by:

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News and Updates

Diagnosing children earlier and faster is critical to help children with autism access services as quickly as possible.

Beginning April 1, 2019, Ontario is doubling funding for the diagnostic hubs over the next two years to help more children receive an autism diagnosis sooner and help connect families to local services in their communities.

Evidence shows that when children start behavioural intervention between ages two and five, they improve in cognitive and language development, are better prepared for school and have better long-term outcomes in adulthood.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get an autism assessment for my child?

Please contact your local diagnostic hub through one of the links below to find out about how to apply for a diagnostic assessment.

Do I have to go through the diagnostic hubs to have my child assessed for an autism diagnosis?

No, you can receive a diagnosis of autism from qualified professionals, including family physicians, pediatricians and developmental pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychological associates, and nurse practitioners.

How will my child be assessed for signs of autism?

Autism is diagnosed based on a combination of specific behaviours, communication delays, and/or developmental disabilities, rather than only one factor or symptom. Diagnosing professionals use the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to conduct the assessment.

The multi-disciplinary diagnostic assessment process in the diagnostic hubs includes:

  • a semi-structured interview, informal observation of your child, and a review of other documents and reports, as well as previous assessments, including information from a school or child care provider
  • the administration of a standardized assessment tool such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and a review of diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM 5

Following the assessment, you will receive a report that summarizes the assessment results and the diagnosis. It also provides information about potential next steps. The hubs will help connect you with other appropriate services and supports in your community.

How do I get a copy of my child’s autism diagnosis?

If you are registering for the Ontario Autism Program for the first time, you will need to provide the ministry with a copy of your child’s written autism diagnosis. If you do not have a copy, contact the professional who diagnosed your child and ask for a copy.

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Find the Diagnostic Hub Close to You

West Region

McMaster Children’s Hospital / Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre
237 Barton Street East
Hamilton, ON
Tel: (905) 521-2100 ext 78222
Email: DPR-intake@hhsc.ca
Website: https://www.hamiltonhealthsciences.ca/mcmaster-childrens-hospital/areas-of-care/developmental-pediatrics-and-rehabilitation/asd-diagnostic-hub/

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Central Region

Children’s Treatment Network of Simcoe York
165 Ferris Lane
Barrie, ON
Toll Free: 1-866-377-0286
Fax: (705) 792-2775
Website: www.ctnsy.ca

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North Region

Child and Community Resources
662 Falconbridge Road
Sudbury, ON
Tel: (705) 525-0055
Toll Free: 1-877-996-1599
Website: www.ccrconnect.ca

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East Region

Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) / Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (OCTC)
395 Smyth Road
Ottawa, ON
K1H 8L2
Tel: (613) 737-2757
Toll Free: 1-800-565-4839
Website: https://www.cheo.on.ca/en/clinics-services-programs/access-team.aspx

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Toronto Region

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Child Development Intake
150 Kilgour Road
Toronto, ON
Tel: (416) 425-6220 ext 3334
Email: cdpintake@hollandbloorview.ca
Website: www.hollandbloorview.ca

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Additional Resources

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