Autism and special needs
ONTARIO AUTISM PROGRAM: FOUNDATIONAL FAMILY SERVICES
Foundational family services are available free of charge to all families registered in the Ontario Autism Program.
Foundational family services aim to give you more tools to work with your child or youth and participate in their ongoing learning and development through services and supports that are:
- informed by evidence
- delivered by a range of professionals
- are responsive to your family’s changing needs over time and your child’s needs, strengths and developmental stage
- offered in a variety of ways, including virtual, self-directed, in-person or group-based
- tailored to the unique regional, language and cultural needs in different communities
- offered by organizations using collaborative, innovative and interprofessional approaches to work with other partners in your community
Services are available through providers across Ontario and may include the following types of options:
- Family and peer mentoring – share experiences in a supportive, informative and social atmosphere
- Caregiver workshops and follow-up coaching sessions – information, education and resources on a variety of topics
- Brief targeted consultations – direct support to help address a specific need and support your child’s skill development
- Transition supports – help preparing for your child’s personal and educational transitions as well as transitions to adulthood
- Family resource and clinic days – brainstorm, consult and problem-solve with professionals
Everyone registered in the Ontario Autism Program is eligible to receive foundational family services.
You can choose to access these services at any point based on your needs, at no cost. There are no limits to the number of times you can register for these services.
ONTARIO AUTISM PROGRAM: CAREGIVER-MEDIATED EARLY YEARS PROGRAMS
Caregiver-mediated early years programs support families with young children ages 12 months to 48 months (4 years). The programs help young children learn new skills and meet individualized goals.
Through these programs, parents and caregivers learn therapeutic strategies and specific techniques from professionals based on their child’s individual needs. The programs aim to build parents’ and caregivers’ capacity to support their child’s skill development in:
- social interaction
- emotional development
- adaptive development and self-help skills
The programs are play-based, child-led and developmentally appropriate. Programs are free of charge and available for up to six months per child.
Most children who are 12 to 48 months old and registered in the Ontario Autism Program are eligible to receive caregiver-mediated early years programs.
If your child is receiving core clinical services or has an active behaviour plan, you’re not eligible to receive caregiver-mediated early years programs.
Children who are receiving caregiver-mediated early years programs can receive other Ontario Autism Program supports (other than OAP core clinical services), special needs supports and/or early intervention programs at the same time. For example, your child can receive foundational family services or urgent response services at the same time as a caregiver-mediated early years program.
ONTARIO AUTISM PROGRAM: ENTRY TO SCHOOL PROGRAM
The entry to school program helps children develop school-readiness skills and provides transition support as they enter kindergarten or Grade 1 for the first time.
The program includes two main parts. The first part is a 6-month, half-day group-based, skill-building program, focused on helping children develop school-readiness skills in six areas.
To participate in the entry to school program, your child must be:
- registered in the Ontario Autism Program
- between three to six years old as of December 31 in the year they are starting school
- starting kindergarten or Grade 1 for the first time
Some children are not eligible for the entry to school program, including children:
- who are receiving core clinical services
- with an active behavior plan
- who have already started attending school
Children who are in the entry-to-school program can receive other Ontario Autism Program supports (other than OAP core clinical services), special needs support, and/or early intervention programs at the same time. For example, your child can receive foundational family services or urgent response services at the same time as the entry-to-school program.
ONTARIO AUTISM PROGRAM: URGENT RESPONSE SERVICES
Eligible children and youth who are experiencing a specific, urgent need can access supports to:
- help stabilize the situation
- prevent crisis
- reduce the risk of the child or youth harming themselves, others and property
Children and youth can get up to 12 weeks of free supports.
Urgent response services do not provide funding to purchase supports. Children and youth registered in the OAP can access urgent response services while receiving other OAP services and supports.
To be eligible for OAP urgent response services, you/your child must be:
- registered in the OAP
- experiencing one or more key high-risk factors that:
- have started or worsened in the last 14 days
- can be supported by OAP urgent response services – you will find out through a standard intake process
High-risk factors include:
- property destruction
- violent thinking
- fire setting
- harm to animals
- risk of exploitation
- self-injurious behavior
- suicidal thoughts or behavior
- inappropriate sexual behaviour
- flight risk
SOME OTHER PROGRAMS:
Children’s rehabilitation services
Coordinated service planning for children with special needs
Mental health services for children and youth
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) programs and services
Indigenous children and youth programs
Special Services at Home
Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities Program
Family support and respite for children and youth with special needs
Assistive Devices Program
Special education laws and policies
Student Nutrition Program
Infant Hearing Program
Preschool Speech and Language Program
Blind-Low Vision Early Intervention Program
1. Program Name: Ontario Autism Program
Program Link: https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-autism-program
Program Overview: The Ontario Autism Program (OAP) offers support to families of children and youth on the autism spectrum.
Children and youth who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by a qualified professional are eligible for the program. Children receive services and supports until the age of 18.
To register for the Ontario Autism Program, your child must:
- be under age 18
- currently live in Ontario
- have a written diagnosis of autism from a qualified professional.
Your child’s written diagnosis must include:
- your child’s full name and date of birth
- the date of your child’s assessment
- a statement indicating that the child meets the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder
- the qualified professional’s name and credentials
If you registered for the program before April 2021
Interim one-time funding
Learn about interim one-time funding for children and youth who registered in the Ontario Autism Program before April 2021, including eligibility, how to apply and how to report expenses.
2. Program Name: OAP core clinical services and supports
Program Link: https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-autism-program-guidelines-core-clinical-services-and-supports
Program Overview: OAP core clinical services and supports will offer interventions and supports designed to respond to the individual needs of children and youth on the autism spectrum, and their families.
OAP core clinical services and supports include:
- applied behaviour analysis
- speech-language pathology
- occupational therapy
- mental health services, including counselling and/or psychotherapy
- technology, program materials and/or therapy equipment at the recommendation of a regulated professional or Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA)
In the needs-based OAP, eligible children and youth registered in the program, and their families can access other OAP services at no cost, including: