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Special Needs Support

Some children and youth may need extra supports because they have challenges or delays in their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, language or behavioural development. Ontario provides services so they can participate fully at home, at school, in the community, and as they prepare to achieve their goals for adulthood.

We are making progress on Ontario's Special Needs Strategy. Our goal is to connect children and youth to the services they need as early as possible, and improve the service experience for families.


There are many local programs and services to help children with special needs and their families. You may also contact your nearest regional office for more information regarding locally available services.

If you have a child who is six or younger, more information is available on early childhood development, including services and supports in your community.


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.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Work is underway to improve the experiences and outcomes for individuals affected by alcohol before birth.

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.

Rehabilitation Services

Rehabilitation services can include physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language pathology for children and youth with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities and communication disorders.

See also

Financial and Respite Supports

Financial and/or respite support may be available to families with children with special needs. There are several programs, including:

Services for Specific Populations

Other Available Services and Supports

  • Blindness and low vision - an Early Intervention Program for children from birth to grade one with challenges related to their vision.
  • 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.
  • Special education - the Ministry of Education provides in-school programs and services so that children and youth with special needs benefit fully from their school experience.
  • Assistive devices - the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care provides access to assistive devices responsive to their individual needs.