You are here Skip Navigation Links > Home > Topics > Special Needs

Special needs

Improving services for children and youth with special needs in Ontario, and their families -- Read recommendations from the Parliamentary Assistant’s report.

All children and youth deserve to have a healthy, happy childhood and a chance to be the best they can. Some need extra help because they have one or more problems relating to their:

  • physical health
  • emotional health
  • behaviour
  • development
  • mental health.

The Ontario government provides and funds many special programs and services to help these children and their families.

How to apply for help

There are many programs and services to help children with special needs and their families. Each program has its own eligibility requirements. Please contact your nearest regional office of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services for more information.



Ontario provides a range of services and supports to children and youth with autism.

Developmental disabilities

Help is available for children and youth with developmental disabilities and their families.


If you are a parent caring for a child with a severe disability, you may be able to receive some financial help.

Mental Health

There is help for children and youth up to the age of 18 who have social, emotional, behavioural or psychiatric problems, and their families or caregivers.


Children's treatment centres provide rehabilitation services to 58,000 children and youth with disabilities each year.


Find out about two programs that can give your family a break (or "respite") from the day-to-day care of your child with special needs.

Special Services at Home

This program helps families who are caring for a child with a developmental or physical disability.

See also:

Special services

  • Blindness and low vision -- Learn about our Early Intervention Program.
  • Hearing -- help for babies who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Residential services -- group homes, foster homes, provincially operated facilities and youth justice open and secure custody/detention facilities.

Services for:


If you work with children who have special needs, here are resources that may help.