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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

  • 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


Frequently Asked Questions


About the New Ontario Autism Program

  • What is the new Ontario Autism Program?

    Ontario’s new autism program will make it easier for families to access services for their children by reducing wait times, providing more flexible services at the level of intensity that meets each child's individual needs and increasing the number of treatment spaces to serve more children and youth.

    Beginning in June 2017, families will no longer need to apply to two separate autism programs, nor will they receive separate assessments or have separate service plans. There will be a single point of entry to receive individualized autism therapy.

  • How will the waitlist for the new Ontario Autism Program work? How do families sign up?

    Children who are already on the waitlist for the Autism Intervention Program and/or for Applied Behaviour Analysis-Based Services and Supports will not need to reapply for the new Ontario Autism Program. Children on the existing waitlists will enter the new program when their space becomes available, beginning in June 2017. When children enter the new Ontario Autism Program, their needs will be assessed and they will receive individualized services at the level of intensity that meets their needs.

    The ministry has established an advisory committee of parents, stakeholders and other experts to provide advice on the design and implementation of the new program, including waitlist management.

  • Will the autism services I apply for now affect the services my child will receive in the new Ontario Autism Program?

    No. When children enter the new Ontario Autism Program, their needs will be assessed and they will receive individualized services at the level of intensity that meets their needs, not based on the previous waitlist they were on.

  • When will “enhanced ABA” be available and what will the increases to intensity of services look like?

    Beginning in June 2017, the maximum amount of ABA-based services and supports available per child will increase. Interventions will be flexible, so that the intensity and duration of services a child receives is based on the child’s individual needs.

    Questions about what the intensity of services will look like and how it will be delivered will be part of the program design of the new Ontario Autism Program. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available.

The transition to the Ontario Autism Program

  • What is changing during the transition period?

    Ontario is accelerating the introduction of the new Ontario Autism Program so that more children and youth with autism can receive the services they need sooner. The new program will begin to be implemented in June 2017, one year earlier than originally planned.

    To provide choice and flexibility during the transition period to the new program, parents of children who are transitioning from the current IBI waitlist will now be offered a choice. After spending and reconciling their initial $8,000 in direct funding, parents can receive additional direct funding or, if preferred, priority access to ABA services during the transition period. Funding will be provided in successive payments of $10,000 for eligible parents, and will continue until their child enters the new Ontario Autism Program in 2017.

    Ontario is also increasing the number of spaces available in the current ABA program this year. These changes mean that more children who have been waiting for ABA will receive service sooner.

  • My child is over five years old and receiving IBI services. Will she/he be immediately removed from services?

    During the transition to the new program, children who are five years and older who are currently receiving IBI won’t be removed from services. They will continue with their current service plans until their next regular clinical progress assessment. At that time, service providers will work with the child’s family to develop an individualized service plan that will bridge them into the new program.

    The intensity of services during the transition will be based on clinical considerations according to the child’s needs and the child’s individualized service plan. Children will continue to receive services and will not transition from these services until there is a space for them in the new Ontario Autism Program.

    Children will continue to have access to in-school services, including transition support and after-school skills development as well as other publicly funded services for children with special needs.

  • If my child is in the Direct Funding Option (DFO), is it up to my regional service provider to determine how much service my child still needs during the transition?

    For children five years or older and receiving IBI services through the DFO, the Autism Intervention Program (AIP) provider will collaborate with the parents and the DFO supervising psychologist to develop an individualized service plan that will bridge the child to the new Ontario Autism Program beginning in June 2017.

    The intensity of services will be based on clinical considerations according to the child’s needs and individualized service plan. Children will continue to receive services and will not transition from these services until there is a space for them in the new Ontario Autism Program.

    During the transition period, the respective roles and responsibilities of the regional programs and private providers will continue as set out in the Autism Intervention Program Guidelines.

  • My child is under 5 years old and on the IBI waitlist. What happens to her/him?

    If your child is under the age of five and on the IBI waitlist, she or he can receive IBI when a space becomes available.

    For children who will turn five during the transition period (i.e. between May 1, 2016 and March 31, 2018), families will be offered a choice of receiving the $8,000 per child in one-time funding at any time during the transition period prior to the child’s fifth birthday. Families who choose to receive the funding prior to their child’s fifth birthday will be removed from the IBI waitlist. Once families have spent their initial $8,000 in direct funding and reconciled it with their service provider, families will be able to choose between additional direct funding or, if preferred, priority access to ABA services until there is a space for them in the new Ontario Autism Program.

  • What happens if my child turns five while on the IBI waitlist?

    Your child will be transitioned off the waitlist and you will receive the initial $8,000 in direct funding, followed by the choice of additional direct funding of $10,000 per child or priority access to ABA services during the transition to the new Ontario Autism Program.

    This choice will continue to be made available until your child’s spot in the new Ontario Autism Program becomes available beginning in June 2017.

  • I live in a rural area with few available services. Where should I go for help?

    Families can contact their local Autism Ontario chapter for additional support and guidance. Autism Ontario has also updated the online ABACUS registry of private providers of behavioural services in Ontario so that families have the most up-to-date information available.

    Families are also encouraged to contact their nearest regional office for information as well as the lead Autism Intervention Program agency in their area for assistance in finding services for their children.

  • What school supports will be available for my child?

    The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Children and Youth Services are partnering to improve transitions for children moving from community autism services to full-time school and transitions within school.

    The goal is to improve outcomes for students through collaborative and aligned service delivery among autism service providers and educators.

    Various school-based services will be enhanced and expanded during the transition, including the Connections for Students program and school-based teams to support students leaving IBI services and/or the IBI waitlist.

    School boards will also be eligible to apply for funding for after-school skills development programming for children affected by the changes to community autism services.

  • Will families on the ABA waitlist receive any additional supports?

    Ontario is investing an additional $11.25 million in 2016-17 in ABA-based services and supports to expand the number of spaces available and reduce wait times for service. ABA-based services and supports will continue to be delivered as per the current program guidelines for this year.

    The new Ontario Autism Program will begin to be implemented in June 2017 and one year earlier than originally planned. The program will benefit all children and youth with autism.

    Beginning in June 2017, the maximum amount of ABA-based services and supports available per child will increase.

    These changes mean that more children who have been waiting for ABA services will receive services sooner, and will receive more service.

For families whose children are over five or who will turn five before March 31, 2018

  • How quickly will I have access to funding?

    Eligible families can receive the additional $10,000 in direct funding after they have spent and reconciled their initial $8,000 payment. Service providers will work with families to complete the process as quickly as possible.

    Once the $8,000 has been reconciled and families have signed a new service agreement, service providers will provide funding directly to families within ten business days of signing the service agreement.

    Service providers can meet with families to discuss the direct funding and help answer any questions they may have about eligible services and supports for their child.

  • How will I be able to spend the additional $10,000? Can I purchase the same kinds of services as I did with the $8,000?

    The additional direct funding that is being provided to parents whose children are being transitioned off the IBI waitlist can be used to purchase behavioural services and supports for their child during the transition to the new program. The guidelines provide more information about eligible services for this funding.

  • What happens when my funds run out?

    Families will be eligible to receive the next $10,000 payment once they submit associated receipts and the previous expenditure is reconciled by the provider. It is suggested that families submit invoices to service providers in regular intervals (e.g. monthly) to ensure continuity of services and funding.

  • What if the documentation submitted exceeds $10,000?

    Families can submit documentation totalling their direct funding payment amount (either $8,000 or $10,000). If their receipts exceed the total value of their current payment, they can submit these receipts for reconciliation with their next payment.


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