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Programs and services for children with autism

Ontario Autism Program

Ontario is transforming the way that children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and their families, receive services and supports through the new Ontario Autism Program (OAP). In the new program all families of children and youth with autism will receive flexible, family-centred services based on each child’s unique needs. The government is committed to ensuring all families are supported through a smooth and seamless transition as they enter the new program.

The OAP will deliver a continuum of evidence based behavioural services and family services and training for children and youth with ASD and their families based on their needs and strengths across all developmental stages.

Evidence Based Behavioural Services

In the new OAP, clinicians, together with families, will develop an understanding of each child’s/youth’s and family’s strengths, capacities and need for behavioural services and create a Behaviour Plan with an evidence based approach to meet those needs. Families can expect to receive services that actively engage them to acquire skills that support their child’s development and skill building.

Evidence based behavioural services, including Applied Behaviour Analysis, in the OAP will be delivered through a strengths based approach that empowers families to develop the skills and knowledge to address needs as they arise. Services will be delivered in a manner that emphasizes and prioritizes the development, maintenance and generalization of functional skills, including those skills that prepare children/youth to more fully benefit from inclusion in typical settings.

A variety of evidence-based behavioural services will be offered in the OAP. The timing, duration, intensity and scope of behavioural services will be adapted to meet the individual needs of each child/youth and their family.

More information on Evidence Based Behavioural Services can be found in the OAP Guidelines.More information on how clinical decisions are made in the OAP can be found in the OAP Clinical Framework.

Family Services and Training

The approach to family services and training in the OAP is driven by a family-centred, child-focused philosophy that promotes collaboration between families and providers. Caregiver involvement is promoted by providing choice and overcoming potential barriers by offering:

Evidence based family services and training that are linked to and built upon a parent/ caregiver’s learning goals will be offered according to the needs and priorities of families. This may include parent/caregiver workshops, information sessions and seminars, online training modules, support groups, consultation support, clinic days and/or guidance and navigation of services.

More information on Family Services and Training can be found in the OAP Guidelines.

More information on the OAP can be found in the OAP Guidelines and Clinical Framework.

Connections for Students

Partnerships and collaborative planning with OAP providers, families and/or youth, educators and other service providers is instrumental for planning successful transitions to school and maximizing coordination of care and learning.

In the first phase of implementation of the OAP, Connections for Students continues to provide coordinated and seamless transitions to school for school-aged children and youth who are in the former AIP program. Transition planning and process follows the existing Connections for Students model; however, these children/ youth will continue to receive service from the OAP.

Connections for Students:

As the design of the OAP evolves over the next year, further communication on the future of Connections for Students will be provided.

For more information on Connections for Students, talk to your school principal, your school board, or your service provider.

Transition Supports for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Transition Supports for Adolescents are community-based programs that help teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families through behavioural supports, crisis intervention services such as counselling and social skills training.

Contact your local regional office for more information.

Respite Services

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Respite Services provide temporary relief for families from the stress of caring for a child or youth with ASD. Respite services allow children and youth to participate in meaningful activities that will help them learn new skills and build relationships.

Respite programs can take place in your home, at March break camps and through other community programs offered throughout the year.

These services are available to children and youth with a diagnosis of autism until they turn 18.

For more information about respite services, contact your local regional office or visit www.respiteservices.com.

March Break Camps

Ontario provides ongoing funding for March Break camps so children and youth with autism can have the opportunity to benefit from this unique learning experience. This support helps parents with camp costs and in some cases can be used for support workers to provide one-on-one help to children and youth at camp.

March Break camps give children and youth the chance to participate in fun activities outside of school, such as bowling, swimming, skating, music, and arts and crafts programs.

March Break camps also give parents the assurance that their children and youth are well-cared for, safe and happy.

Summer Camps

Summer camps help children and youth with autism to build new skills and have fun. All ministry regional offices support summer camps that serve children with autism across the province. Autism Ontario also administers a reimbursement program funded by the ministry for families hiring one-to-one support workers so your child with autism can attend summer camp. Children and youth with autism are eligible for these funds until their 18th birthday.

Funding for Summer Camps

For more information and to apply for funding, please visit Autism Ontario.

For other summer camp programs for children and youth with autism offered in your area, please contact your nearest regional office of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

Autism Ontario's Potential Programme

Autism Ontario's Potential Programme is designed to directly support families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder across the province through parent support networks, training, resource materials and social learning opportunities.

This program also delivers topical workshops by experts in ASD, topics are determined according to a demonstrated interest by families, agencies and other professionals in the local community.