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Autism Programs and Services

Ontario Autism Program

Ontario is improving access to services so more families of children and youth with autism can receive service.

Starting April 1, 2019, through the Ontario Autism Program, families of children with autism will be provided with timely access to Childhood Budgets so they can purchase the services they value most from the providers of their choice. This will support children to achieve their goals at home, at school, in the community and as they transition into adulthood.

Introducing Childhood Budgets starting April 1, 2019

New Childhood Budgets will provide more families with access to a broader range of eligible services that they believe are most helpful for their child and family. This will include behavioural services such as assessments and consultations, family/caregiver capacity building and training, respite services, technology aids, and travel.

Childhood Budgets will be available for children up to age 18 and will be subject to annual income testing. Families currently on the waitlist for services can expect to receive their budgets within the next 18 months.

The amount of the budget will depend on the length of time a child will be in the program and household income. For example, a child entering the program at age two would be eligible to receive up to $140,000, while a child entering at age seven would receive up to $55,000, during their time in the program. Families with an annual household income under $250,000 will be eligible to receive funding. Eligibility and the amount of funding a family receives will be reviewed annually.

Expanding Ontario’s five autism diagnostic hubs

Ontario is doubling funding to the 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 gain improvements in cognitive and language development, are better prepared for school and have better long-term outcomes in adulthood.

Establishing a family-focused, independent intake agency

A new independent intake agency will assist families in registering for the program, assess their funding eligibility, provide them with their Childhood Budgets and offer support to help them choose which services to purchase.

Supporting families through change

While the independent intake agency is being established over the next year, Autism Ontario will be playing a key role in offering support to families to help them understand their options and to assist them in finding service providers through workshops, training sessions and individual support. Autism Ontario will not be involved in registration, intake, waitlist management or funding distribution for the Ontario Autism Program.

Improving accountability and oversight

The government is taking steps to enhance service delivery, improve confidence in service providers and ensure the long-term sustainability of the Ontario Autism Program.

This includes introducing a deadline of April 1, 2021 for clinical supervisors to meet the program’s qualification requirements, conducting regular financial audits of Childhood Budgets, and implementing an online list of verified qualified service providers to help families access behavioural services.

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Connections for Students and Other School Supports

The ministry will continue to work in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to provide transition services and supports to children and youth with autism through the Connections for Students program.

The Ministry of Education has announced that they are increasing supports for educators and building on existing programs so school boards will be prepared to help ensure that students with autism will feel safe and supported in their classrooms as they transition into school.

More information about school-based supports for students with autism can be found on the Ministry of Education’s website.

For students who have been identified as an exceptional pupil by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC), the school board must develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for them. School boards may also develop IEPs for students who are receiving special education programs and/or related services but who have not been identified as exceptional by an IPRC.

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Transition Supports for Adolescents with Autism

Transition supports for adolescents are community-based programs that help teenagers with autism and their families through behavioural supports, crisis intervention services such as counselling and social skills training. Contact your local regional office for more information.

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Respite Services

Respite services provide temporary relief for families from the stress of caring for a child or youth with autism. They allow children and youth to participate in meaningful activities that will help them learn new skills and build relationships. Respite programs can take place at home, at March break camps and through community programs offered throughout the year.

Learn more about respite services or contact your local regional office.

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Additional Resources

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