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Implementation Working Group and Services Align with Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel Recommendations

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Implementation Working Group and Services Align with Ontario Autism Program Advisory Panel Recommendations

The new Ontario Autism Program will offer a range of services and interventions designed to respond to the individual needs of children and their families. These services are in alignment with those recommended by the autism advisory panel.

The following service pathways will be part of the new program:

Core services

Core services will offer families choice and give children and youth in the program access to a broad range of evidence-based clinical services. A fair and consistent process will be used to determine each child’s level of need and the amount of core intervention services the family will receive. In the redesigned program, core services will include:

  • Speech language pathology
  • Occupational therapy
  • Applied Behaviour Analysis
  • Mental health supports through counselling and psychotherapy

Families will access these services in sequential order based on their original date of registration for the Ontario Autism Program.

Early intervention and school readiness services

Research has shown early intervention can significantly help young children on the autism spectrum develop skills, improve their overall well-being and achieve better long-term outcomes. Recognizing the importance of intervention in the early stages of a child’s life, the new program will include evidence-based early intervention programs for children aged 0-6 with a focus on teaching young children developmentally appropriate skills and building caregiver capacity. Depending on their individual circumstances, families may be prioritized for programs offered to preschool children and for school readiness supports to help children transition to school.

Foundational family services

​Feedback received through public consultations and the advisory panel highlighted the importance of having ongoing capacity-building supports available to families throughout their service journey. Once families are registered in the program, they will be able to access foundational family services at any time. These services will include family and peer mentoring, caregiver workshops and coaching sessions to give caregivers more tools to work with their child and participate in their ongoing learning and development.

Urgent and complex needs services

Time-limited urgent response services will be available to support children and youth and their families who may be experiencing significant and immediate needs. The government will work closely with the Implementation Working Group to identify a clear and transparent process and criteria to access these services.

Care Coordinators

The new program will also introduce Care Coordinators to support families throughout their journey by providing orientation to the program, service planning and navigation, and help with managing transitions.

Mental Health Training

In early 2020, the ministry will begin offering 15 in-person training sessions organized by Child and Parent Resource Institute (CPRI), to community-based physician and medical practitioners, community agencies, educators, and caregivers to increase understanding of children on the autism spectrum and co-occurring mental health challenges.

The design and implementation of these multiple service pathways will be complex and will require careful planning and ongoing input from experts. Acting on a key recommendation from the advisory panel’s report, Minister Todd Smith announced the creation of an Implementation Working Group to provide input to the government on key design elements.

This Implementation Working Group is composed of a broad range of research and clinical experts, including autism service providers, self-advocates, individuals with autism and parents and representatives from Ontario’s northern and Indigenous communities. It also includes representatives from the former autism advisory panel to help facilitate consistency and continuity.

The working group will be responsible for providing input on the implementation and operationalization of the new Ontario Autism Program. You can find more information about the working group’s mandate here.

The work will lead to a transformed autism service system, that will support more children and youth on the autism spectrum in an individualized way.

While the government continues to work towards implementing a new needs-based program, they are committed to providing families with assurance, transparency, clarity and ongoing support. Before the end of March 2020, all families on the waitlist, who have not yet received a Childhood Budget will receive an invitation for interim one-time funding of either $5,000 or $20,000, so they can begin purchasing services for their child.

All families who receive this interim one-time funding or have received a Childhood Budget can be assured that their child’s original registration date and position on the provincial waitlist will be maintained for entry into the new program.

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