Today, the Ontario government announced it is adopting the Ontario Autism Panel’s key recommendations for a needs-based autism program. The program recognizes that every family’s experience and needs are different, and that children and youth on the autism spectrum have different levels of need at different points in their lives. These changes will put Ontario on track to deliver a comprehensive, sustainable and family-centred program.
Aligning with recommendations of the advisory panel, the Minister presented key elements of the new program, including a broad range of services that will offer families more supports for their child’s specific needs.
Families will have access to the following service pathways in the new program:
- Core services that include Applied Behaviour Analysis, speech language pathology, occupational therapy and mental health services;
- Foundational family services for all families in the program, to build their capacity to support their child’s learning and development;
- Early intervention and school readiness services to help young children access critical services when they will benefit most, and to prepare them to enter school;
- Urgent and complex needs services to support children and youth who are in service, or are waiting for service, and have significant and immediate needs.
At any point in time, families and caregivers will be able to access services such as peer mentoring, training, workshops and coaching sessions to further support their child’s ongoing learning and development. This broad range of needs-based services will provide families with new options as recommended by the advisory panel.
The Minister also accepted the panel’s recommendation for an implementation team and announced the creation of an Implementation Working Group to provide the government with input on a number of key design elements. Those elements include service caps and the transition of children into service.
The first phase of implementation will begin in April 2020, to be followed by additional phases throughout 2020 and 2021. The Implementation Working Group will have their first meeting in the coming weeks.