Children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face unique challenges as they progress through the education system. In 2004, the Government of Ontario recognized the need for additional services for school boards and authorities across the province to support the increasing number of students identified with ASD. Responding to this need, the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Education collaborated to develop the School Support Program. Since July 2004, Surrey Place is the agency responsible for the School Support Program in the Toronto region, working with local school boards.
The goal of the School Support Program is to enhance supports currently available to publicly funded school boards and school authorities in the provision of educational services to students with ASD in Ontario. This includes professional supports and tools that educators can use to assist their students.
The strategies used in training and consultations offered by this program are guided by research and scientific evidence-based methods of intervention. The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services identified the objectives of the School Support Program are to:
- Support students with ASD through the Connections for Students services
- Enhance knowledge of school board staff with respect to the characteristics of students with ASD
- Enhance the knowledge and skills of school board staff with respect to principles of ABA, effective behavioural teaching strategies and other evidence-based teaching strategies as appropriate, and how they may support students with ASD in elementary and secondary schools
- Enhance linkages between schools, school boards and lead agencies regarding issues pertaining to students with ASD