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Programs and services for children with autism

Autism Intervention Program

Depending on how severe your child's disorder is, your doctor or psychologist may refer you to a regional autism service provider for autism intervention services. These services are funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

The Autism Intervention Program includes:

Support services

  • advice, information, materials, consultation and training for families to get their child ready for Intensive Behavioural Intervention.

Intensive Behavioural Intervention

  • a structured approach that breaks down the barriers that isolate children with autism from the world around them
  • based on the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis
  • uses systematic methods to encourage development and change behaviour
  • program goals are individually tailored to each child based on a thorough assessment of the child's unique strengths and needs
  • it's practical - the focus is on developing the skills each child needs for greater independence

Intensive Behavioural Intervention professionals work with children with autism - either individually or in small groups.

Parents are critical to the success of Intensive Behavioural Intervention. The program has a parent-training component so that parents can help their children reach their goals.

Children and youth who are receiving Intensive Behavioural Intervention don't stop receiving autism services just because they reach a certain age.

Service options

When it comes to receiving Intensive Behavioural Intervention services for their child, parents have two options:

Direct service option:

  • Children can receive the services directly from trained staff at one of Ontario's nine regional service providers.

Direct funding option:

  • Parents can receive funding directly. The family then arranges for services from a private service provider. A list of service providers is available through Autism Ontario's ABACUS registry.

Transition services and supports

  • Help children with autism integrate into new environments. Transition planning begins early and is tailored to meet the needs of each child.

Who can receive Autism Intervention Program services

To receive a referral to the Autism Intervention Program, your child must:

  • live within the geographic boundaries of the program; and
  • have a diagnosis from a doctor, psychologist or psychological associate that says your child has autism or a disorder that is considered to be toward the severe end of the autism spectrum.

Your child will then be assessed for eligibility for intensive behavioural intervention services by the clinical staff working with your regional autism service provider.

Requesting a review of ineligibility or discharge decisions from the Autism Intervention Program

Parents or caregivers who receive notice that their child is ineligible for or is being discharged from the Intensive Behavioural Intervention services under the AIP may request an independent review of that decision.

The Independent Review Mechanism (or IRM) for the AIP is coordinated by Contact Niagara.

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)-based Services and Supports

ABA-based services and supports help children and youth with autism develop skills in the following areas:

  • behaviour management/emotional regulation;
  • communication;
  • social/interpersonal; and
  • daily living

ABA uses methods based on scientific principles of learning and behaviour to build useful modes of behaviour while reducing problematic ones. Services are available across the province.

Contact an ABA-based lead agency in your region to access these services.

School Support Program


Children and youth with autism often face particular challenges during their school years. Teachers can play a critical role in helping them succeed at school.

That's why the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Education have created the School Support Program. This program connects school boards with Autism Spectrum Disorder consultants to help school staff support the learning and social needs of students with autism.

The Autism Spectrum Disorder consultants:

  • provide training and instructional workshops to principals, teachers, teaching assistants and other educational support staff
  • consult with individual educators
  • provide in-school consultations
  • attend school team meetings
  • identify other community supports available to teachers, students and families.

The Autism Spectrum Disorder consultants are employed by Ontario's nine regional autism service providers. There are more than 185 autism consultants working with public elementary schools and high schools across Ontario.

For more information on the School Support Program, talk to your school principal, your school board, or your regional autism service provider.

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Transition Supports for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders


These community-based programs help teenagers with autism spectrum disorders 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


Caring for your child with autism can be physically and emotionally demanding. Respite services provide families with temporary relief. While giving you a much-needed break, these 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

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March Break Camps


Ontario provides ongoing funding for March Break camps so kids 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 kids at camp.

In March 2014, more than 1400 children and youth participated in March Break camps across the province. March Break camps give kids 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 are well-cared for, safe and happy.

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Summer Camps


Summer camps help children and youth with autism to build new skills and have fun. And summer camps give parents a much-needed break. All nine 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 with autism offered in your area, please contact your nearest regional office of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

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