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New Ontario Autism Program

The new Ontario Autism Program will make it easier for families to access services for their children by reducing wait times, providing more flexible services at a level of intensity that meets each child’s individual needs and increasing the number of treatment spaces available to serve more children and youth and accommodate the rising prevalence of autism diagnoses.


Transitioning to the Ontario Autism Program

Ontario’s enhanced transition plan will help to better support all children with autism while improving support to those families most affected by the transition to the new program. This includes:

Ontario has also established a new advisory committee of parents, stakeholders and other experts to provide advice on the key elements of the design and implementation of the new program. The Ontario Autism Program Advisory Committee is providing advice on how to seek input from other experts, including families, on the proposed program changes.

In the first phase of its work, the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Committee drafted a set of Outcomes and Guiding Principles for the new program. The Committee is pleased to share these outcomes and principles as it continues with the next phase of program design. The outcomes and principles form the foundation for the Committee's ongoing advice for the design of the new Ontario Autism Program.

Summaries from the advisory committee’s monthly meetings are posted here.

Committee meeting summaries

  • March 31, 2017

    The following is an overview of the discussions held during the eighth in-person meeting of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Committee.

    • The Honourable Michael Couteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services attended part of the meeting. He thanked the members for their commitment to this work and asked for their input on two key elements: direct funding approach for the new program and approach to oversight of ABA services. Members provided feedback on both and also highlighted the need for increased collaboration between all relevant ministries and initiatives such as the Special Needs Strategy.
    • Four members presented on recommended service delivery, followed by questions and a fulsome discussion of several of the elements of their framework. Presentations will continue into the April 21 meeting.
    • Members discussed options for communicating the Committee’s work to date as well as to solicit input on proposed service delivery models, once developed. This will be discussed in more depth at the next committee meeting.

    The next Advisory Committee meeting will take place on April 21, 2017.

  • March 24, 2017

    The following is an overview of the discussions held during the seventh in-person meeting of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Committee.

    • The Honourable Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education attended part of the meeting. She thanked members for their commitment to this work and welcomed their input. The members offered advice and recommendations for partnership between the new Ontario Autism Program and schools. Key themes included ensuring adequate support during transitions, increasing collaboration between ministries as well as between schools and autism service providers and providing ABA training for school staff.
    • MCYS provided members with an update on work underway related to the government commitments for June 2017. These include the implementation of a single point of entry in each region, a coordinated intake process that supports the development of the OAP Family Service Plan and a flexible approach to intervention that is responsive to the needs of each child.
    • The Chair of the Clinical Expert Committee provided an update on their work and sought advice from members regarding how the OAP principles of Child, Youth and Family Centred Services and Coordinated and Collaborative services can be realized. The update included the following:
      • The Committee has a new member as of March 10. He is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst-Doctorate and a welcome addition to the group.
      • Results from the clinical study, stakeholder engagement, parent survey and collaboration with ONTABA are being analyzed to inform the development of the intervention planning framework.
      • There were 467 responses to the CEC’s parent survey, approximately 300 focus group participants including families and youth with ASD and 83 participating clinicians in the clinical study.
      • The clinical study found agreement amongst clinicians in determining the level of support needed for each child and variation amongst clinicians in determining the specific intervention plan for each child.
    • Two members presented on recommended service delivery, followed by questions and a fulsome discussion of several of the elements of their framework. Presentations will continue over the next two meetings.

    The next Advisory Committee meetings will take place on March 31 and April 21, 2017.

  • February 24, 2017

    The following is an overview of the discussions held during the sixth in-person meeting of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Committee.

    • The Chair of the Clinical Expert Committee provided an update on their work:
      • Participation rate for the research study was high. Analysis of the results is ongoing, although early indicators show good agreement and consistency re: clinical decision making.
      • 31 focus groups have been completed to date, including 7 school boards and 2 youth groups. An additional meeting with parent representatives is being held on March 1st with a follow-up parent survey.
    • Members were provided with the draft framework and instructions to guide their presentations in March on their recommended service delivery model for the Ontario Autism Program. Members asked questions to clarify the instructions and intent.
      • Presented models will be in keeping with the identified outcomes and principles for the new program. Members agreed to have the outcomes and principles posted on the MCYS website along with the summaries of their meetings.
    • To build on discussions of the current state of services and supports for children and youth with ASD and their families, MCYS staff presented on the three pillars of the Special Needs Strategy and the work to date on the implementation of this initiative.
    • Ministry of Education staff led a presentation on educational supports for students with ASD; and members had an opportunity to ask questions to support the next phase of their work. In the afternoon, members continued in a fulsome discussion of their reflections of the current state of educational supports and their recommendations for enhancing ABA capacity in schools and coordinating/ aligning MCYS OAP delivery.
    • Continuing the discussions from the last meeting, members reviewed the current state of autism services related to service coordination and navigation. Based on the information provided, members were asked to consider:
      • What aspects of the current service delivery system are responding well, and where are the most significant gaps?
      • What are some immediate changes that Ontario should consider to meet the needs of families and achieve desired outcomes relating to access and assessment, and what are the longer term changes?

    The next Advisory Committee meetings will take place on March 24 and 31, 2017.

  • January 27, 2017

    The following is an overview of the discussions held during the fifth in-person meeting of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Committee:

    • Ministry staff provided members with a revised work plan that outlined the activities of the Committee for the next four meetings.
      • Meetings in January and February will focus on an analysis of the current state of services relative to the identified needs of families.
      • In March, members will have an opportunity to bring forward ideas about the future state of service delivery for autism in keeping with the outcomes and principles identified by members. MCYS will issue a framework to guide these presentations.
    • Building on the discussion in December, members participated in a moderated exercise to complete the validation of the summary of needs from the four case scenarios. Additional feedback was provided.
    • Ministry staff provided members with an overview of the data collected by the ministry on both the Autism Intervention Program (AIP) and Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA)-based services and supports. Members had an opportunity to ask questions and request additional information to support the next phase of their work.
    • In the afternoon, members split into two groups to discuss the current state of autism services related to access and assessment. Based on information provided to members about the current context and the perspective of families and other experts related to access and assessment, members were asked to consider:
      • What aspects of the current service delivery system are responding well, and where are the most significant gaps?
      • What are some immediate changes that Ontario should consider to meet the needs of families and achieve desired outcomes relating to access and assessment, and what are the longer term changes?
    • Current state analysis discussion will continue at the next meeting.

    The next Advisory Committee meeting will take place on February 16, 2017.

  • December 16, 2016

    The following is an overview of the discussions held during the fourth in-person meeting of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Committee:

    • A member of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinical Expert Committee (CEC) attended the meeting to provide an overview of the study that the CEC is undertaking to inform the framework for intervention planning in the new Ontario Autism Program. The focus is on collecting information that could help guide how clinical decisions will be made for individual children based on their goals.
      • The goal of this study is to help identify information that can reliably and with utility inform treatment planning decisions for children with ASD. Input from clinicians who are currently involved in treatment planning will be essential to inform this work. Participants will include Psychologists and/or psychological associates, Board Certified Behaviour Analysts, and Speech-Language Pathologists, including clinicians from both publicly-funded autism programs and private programs.
      • The results of this research study will be combined with ongoing stakeholder consultations and other information to inform the CEC’s recommendations.
      • Committee members asked questions and provided feedback on the project.
    • Ministry staff provided members with a general overview of the government commitments for the new OAP to be implemented in June 2017, including increases in capacity and intensity of service as well as the implementation of a single point of entry in each region. Members had a number of questions and points of clarification. Members reiterated the importance of providing children with individualized therapy that responds to their needs and that any change to the service system – short or long-term – should reflect this. Further input on these changes will be sought in upcoming meetings.
    • Ministry staff presented the most recent version of the outcomes and guiding principles document and members provided further comments and input. Ministry staff will revise the document to reflect this additional input. Consideration is also being given to the process and timing for sharing this document more broadly.
    • Members also participated in a moderated exercise to validate a summary of needs from the four case scenarios discussed at the previous meeting, and to begin assessing how the current service system is responding to those needs. This exercise was not completed, and will be continued at the January meeting.

    The next Advisory Committee meeting will take place on January 27, 2017.

  • November 25, 2016

    The following is an overview of the discussions held during the third in-person meeting of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Committee:

    • Ministry staff reviewed the agenda for the meeting, the overall work path and the meeting notes from the previous meeting.
    • Chair of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinical Expert Committee (CEC) provided an update on the committee’s recent work, including the development of an intervention planning simulation exercise to help to identify information that will reliably and validly inform treatment planning. A member of the CEC will attend the Advisory Committee’s January meeting to provide more information.
    • Ministry staff presented the first draft of the outcomes and guiding principles document and members were asked to provide comments and input. While all members agreed that the first draft adequately captured the spirit of the discussion in October, further comments and suggestions were provided. Ministry staff will revise the document to reflect this additional input and send back to members for validation.
    • In the afternoon, members participated in a moderated exercise to start identifying needs of children, youth and their families in the new Ontario Autism Program.
      • Using several different case examples, members were asked to consider what each child and family might need at the identified point in their journey considering their context and other services they are receiving.
      • Ministry staff will summarize the feedback provided. The information and advice generated from this discussion will inform the next phase of the Advisory Committee’s work: assessing the current state of service delivery against the identified needs and desired outcomes.

    The next Advisory Committee meeting will take place on December 16, 2016.

  • October 28, 2016

    The following is an overview of the discussions held during the second in-person meeting of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Committee:

    • In the morning, ministry staff reviewed and discussed:
      • the agenda and objectives for the meeting; and
      • proposed work path and timelines for the committee’s work
    • Early key phases of the work path include the committee providing advice on: key outcomes and principles for the new program, the needs and experiences of families and how the current state of services is meeting those needs, and advising on possible service delivery options.
    • Members discussed possible engagement opportunities whereby input on design and delivery could be gathered from families and other experts, particularly once draft options are identified.
    • Chair of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinical Expert Committee (CEC) provided an update on the work currently underway to develop an intervention planning framework for the new program, including an extensive series of stakeholder consultations. The work being undertaken by the Clinical Expert Committee will complement the advice provided by the Advisory Committee.
    • Deputy Minister Nancy Matthews joined the meeting for lunch. She thanked the Committee members for their participation, recognized the complexity of their work, and noted her interest and enthusiasm for the work ahead.
    • In the afternoon, members participated in a facilitated exercise to begin identifying the desired outcomes and guiding principles for the new Ontario Autism Program. The outcomes and the principles will form the basis of the desired end state or vision for the new program and will provide a framework for evaluating its success.
    • Members shared their thoughts as well as the input they collected from their stakeholders prior to the meeting in response to 4 key questions:
      • What outcomes should children and their families expect from accessing this program?
      • What should the outcomes be at the system or province-wide level?
      • How do you want families to describe the new Ontario Autism Program?
      • What do you want children and their families to experience in the new program?
    • While there was a lot of agreement on key concepts, further discussion is required by the Advisory Committee. Ministry staff committed to drafting a set of outcomes and principles based on the discussion and will share back with the Committee for further input. It was also agreed that broader stakeholder input could be sought at this time.

    The next advisory committee meeting will take place on November 25, 2016.

  • September 12, 2016

    The following is an overview of the discussions held during the first in-person meeting of the Ontario Autism Program Advisory Committee:

    • Ministry staff welcomed and thanked members for their participation.
    • Committee members introduced themselves and briefly touched on the perspectives that they bring to the committee.
    • Staff from the Ministries of Children and Youth Services and Education provided orientation information about services and supports for children and youth with ASD.
    • Committee members reviewed the mandate of the committee.
    • The facilitator for the committee discussions, Josh Hjartarson, introduced himself, explained his role, provided an overview of the format of meetings, and asked members to identify key information or resources that he should familiarize himself with in order to support the work of the committee.
    • The Honourable Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services, attended part of the meeting, thanked members for their commitment to this work, and welcomed their input.
    • Members shared their individual goals, aspirations and measures of success for the work of the committee.
    • The committee discussed communications expectations, including a process for sharing updates about the committee’s work with members’ organizations or stakeholders on a regular basis.

    Advisory Committee meetings will take place monthly and will continue through to June 2018.

Members of the committee

  • Annie Appleby, Superintendent of Education, Learning Centre 1, Toronto District School Board
  • Bruce McIntosh, President, Ontario Autism Coalition
  • Carobeth Zorzos, Board Certified Behaviour Analyst, Clinical Psychologist & Director of Autism and Behavioural Services, Dalton Associates
  • Debra Kennedy, Chief of Physical and Occupational Therapy, York Region District School Board
  • Dr. Evdokia Anagnostou, Senior Clinician Scientist, Autism, Holland Bloorview
  • Gail Geller, Parent
  • Jan Kasperski, Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Psychological Association
  • Jennifer Churchill, Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Association of Children’s Rehabilitation Services
  • Margaret Spoelstra, Executive Director, Autism Ontario
  • Rino Strazzeri, Parent
  • Dr. Sheila Laredo, Endocrinologist, Women’s College Hospital and Chair of the Board of Directors, Kids Brain Health Network/NeuroDevNet
  • Sherry Fournier, Executive Director, Child and Community Resources
  • Susan Honeyman, Speech-Language Pathologist & Chair, ASD Clinical Expert Committee
  • Sylvie Grenier, Clinician and ABA Consultant, Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analyst, Conseil Public du Grand Nord de l'Ontario
  • Dr. Umberto Cellupica, Pediatrician, Maple Kidz Clinic & Medical Director, Pivotal Minds ASD Treatment Centre
  • Tina D’Acunto, Superintendent of Education, Exceptional Learners, York Catholic District School Board

The government is committed to engaging broadly with families and caregivers throughout this process to implement a program that is responsive to children’s varying needs and delivered in a way that meets the needs of families. We have received significant feedback through our consultations with families, experts and providers that has been helpful as we develop our new program. The government will continue to consult during the transition period and as we begin to implement the new program in June 2017.

Where you can go for more information

Call the Ontario Autism Program dedicated phone line at 1-888-284-8340 to be connected to a regional office near you.

How the changes will impact families

The information below explains what the changes will mean for your family while transitioning to the new Ontario Autism Program, what will happen during the transition period, when changes will occur and the next steps to expect.

Ontario is committed to supporting all families during the transition to the new program. Service providers are committed to working with all affected families to directly provide individualized and priority attention.

Find and click on your scenario below for more details


Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnostic Hubs

Ontario has established five regional Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnostic hubs across the province.

The diagnostic hubs will connect families with autism services in their communities quickly, and will provide training to professionals in the surrounding regions to ensure more children and families receive the diagnostic assessments they need.

The five new hubs are at the following locations:

The five hubs will provide an additional 2,000 diagnostic assessments during the implementation of the new Ontario Autism Program, allowing more children to receive diagnoses of autism earlier and to access services quickly.

Learn more