Accessing autism funding and services in Ontario

For more than 20 years, the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) has provided funding and services for children and youth under 18 years of age with autism, along with their families and caregivers.

Offered by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, the OAP was overhauled in 2019. These changes impact how families register for and access services and the types of services offered.

The OAP is currently in a transitional phase as it moves toward becoming more comprehensive, needs-based and family-centered. At this time, families can access a variety of services and supports – more details are below.

What are the changes?

  • Historically, OAP funding was directed to regional providers like Surrey Place to deliver services to families.
  • Since April 2019, families have registered directly with the Ministry to access the new OAP.
  • A new independent intake organization called AccessOAP is responsible for registering families, helping them access funding, and helping them understand which OAP services and supports they are eligible for.
  • It is expected that many more families will receive access to needs-based funding and core autism services over the coming year.

What you need to know about available services

The new needs-based OAP has five service streams:

1. Core Clinical Services

What it is: Core Clinical Services include behavioural services, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and mental health services.

Who is eligible: Currently, 600 families are taking part in a needs-based funding pilot. By fall 2022, 8,000 children and youth are expected to receive funding to purchase Core Clinical Services. In addition, many families also have access to Interim One Time Funding to purchase services for their child.

How to access: Care Coordinators from AccessOAP determine the child’s support needs and their funding allocation for the following year. Once the funding is received, families may spend it on eligible Core Clinical Services. Families have flexibility to choose their service provider. Families receive an invitation letter to access needs-based funding for Core Clinical Services. To register for services offered at Surrey Place, visit our autism services page or call 1-833-575-KIDS (5437).

2. Foundational Family Services

What it is: Foundational Family Services include a wide range of programs aimed at providing families with the tools to support their child and participate in their ongoing learning and development. Services include:

  • Family and peer mentoring
  • Caregiver workshops and follow-up coaching sessions
  • Brief, targeted consultations
  • Transition supports
  • Family resource and clinic days

Who is eligible: Foundational Family Services are available to all families registered in the OAP at any point based on their needs. These services are provided at no cost.

How to access: To register for services offered at Surrey Place, visit the MySurreyPlace.ca client portal or call 1-833-575-KIDS (5437). There’s no limit to the number of times families can access Foundational Family Services.

3. Caregiver-Mediated Early Years Services

What it is: A variety of services that help caregivers with young children learn how to implement strategies and techniques to teach young children new skills. All programs are play-based, child-led and developmentally appropriate.

Who is eligible: All children 12-48 months old who are registered in the Ontario Autism Program can receive this program free of charge.

How to access: Invitation letters are sent to all eligible families. When families receive an invitation letter, they select the program best suited for their family and child. Next, they register directly with a service provider offering that program.

To register for services offered at Surrey Place or to learn more, visit the Toronto Autism Services Network website. Families can register directly on the site.

4. Entry to School Program

What it is: A six-month group-based program designed to prepare young children entering kindergarten or grade 1 for the first time. Offered free of charge, the goal of this program is to help children develop school readiness skills, including communication, social skills and behaviour management. Families and educators will also be able to access consultation services from Entry to School program staff, as needed, during a child’s first six months in school.

Who is eligible: Children between three to six years old who will be starting kindergarten or Grade 1 for the first time.

How to access: Eligible families will receive an invitation letter from the Ministry. When a family receives an invitation letter, they select the program best suited for their family and child. Next, they register directly with a service provider offering that specific program. To register for services at Surrey Place or to learn more, visit the Toronto Autism Services Network website. Families can register directly on the site.

5. Urgent Response Service

What it is: This program provides access to supports intended to help prevent crisis and reduce the risk of a child or youth harming themselves or others. It is not designed to replace emergency or crisis services. Eligible children and youth and their families can receive up to 12 weeks of free supports, which may include interdisciplinary consultation, service coordination, respite services, or direct services to the child and family.

Who is eligible: This program is designed for eligible children and youth who are experiencing a specific, urgent need.

How to access: To register for services offered at Surrey Place, visit our Urgent Response Service page or call 1-833-575-KIDS (5437).

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Questions?

We’re here to help. Call 1-833-575-KIDS (5437) or visit https://www.surreyplace.ca/services/autism-services/

By 2 months

Has your baby had their hearing screened? YES NO

By 6 months

Does the child?

Startle in response to loud noises? YES NO
Turn to where a sound is coming from? YES NO
Make different cries for different needs (hungry, tired)? YES NO
Watch your face as you talk? YES NO
Smile/laugh in response to your smiles and laughs? YES NO
Imitate coughs or other sounds such as ah, eh, buh YES NO

By 9 months

Does the child?

Respond to their name? YES NO
Respond to the telephone ringing or a knock at the door? YES NO
Understand being told no? YES NO
Get what they want through using gestures (reaching to be picked up)? YES NO
Play social games with you (Peek-a-Boo)? YES NO
Enjoy being around people? YES NO
Babble and repeat sounds such as babababa or duhduhduh? YES NO

By 12 months

Does the child?

Follow simple one-step directions (sit down)? YES NO
Look across the room to a toy when adult points at it? YES NO
Consistently use three to five words? YES NO
Use gestures to communicate (waves hi/bye, shakes head for no)? YES NO
Get your attention using sounds, gestures and pointing while looking at your eyes? YES NO
Bring you toys to show you? YES NO
Perform for social attention and praise? YES NO
Combine lots of sounds together as though talking (abada baduh abee)? YES NO
Show an interest in simple picture books? YES NO

By 18 months

Does the child?

Understand the meaning of in and out, off and on? YES NO
Point to more than 2 body parts when asked? YES NO
Use at least 20 words consistently? YES NO
Respond with words or gestures to simple questions (Where's teddy? What's that?)? YES NO
Demonstrate some pretend play with toys (gives teddy bear a drink, pretends a bowl is a hat)? YES NO
Make at least four different consonant sounds (p ,b, m, n, d, g, w, h)? YES NO
Enjoy being read to and sharing simple books with you? YES NO
Point to pictures using one finger? YES NO

By 2 years

Does the child?

Follow two-step directions (Go find your teddy bear and show it to Grandma.)? YES NO
Use 100 to 150 words? YES NO
Use at least two pronouns (you, me, mine)? YES NO
Consistently combine two to four words in short phrases (Daddy hat. Truck go down.)? YES NO
Enjoy being around other children? YES NO
Begin to offer toys to other children and imitate other children's actions and words? YES NO
Use words that are understood by others 50 to 60 per cent of the time? YES NO
Form words or sounds easily and without effort? YES NO
Hold books the right way up and turn the pages? YES NO
Read to stuffed animals or toys? YES NO
Scribble with crayons? YES NO

By 30 months

Does the child?

Understand the concepts of size (big/little) and quantity (a little/a lot, more)? YES NO
Use some adult grammar (two cookies, bird flying, I jumped)? YES NO
Use over 350 words? YES NO
Use action words such as run, spill, fall? YES NO
Participate in some turn-taking activities with peers, using both words and toys? YES NO
Demonstrate concern when another child is hurt or sad? YES NO
Combine several actions in play (puts blocks in the train and drives the train, drops the blocks off.)? YES NO
Put sounds at the beginning of most words? YES NO
Use words with two or more syllables or beats (ba-na-na, com-pu-ter, a-pple)? YES NO
Recognize familiar logos and signs involving print (Stop sign)? YES NO
Remember and understand familiar stories? YES NO

By 3 years

Does the child?

Understand who, what, where and why questions? YES NO
Create long sentences using five to eight words? YES NO
Talk about past events (trip to grandparents house, day at child care)? YES NO
Tell simple stories? YES NO
Show affection for favourite playmates? YES NO
Engage in multi-step pretend play (pretending to cook a meal, repair a car)? YES NO
Talk in a way that most people outside of the family understand what she/he is saying most of the time? YES NO
Have an understanding of the function of print (menus, lists, signs)? YES NO
Show interest in, and awareness of, rhyming words? YES NO
Read to stuffed animals or toys? YES NO
Scribble with crayons? YES NO

By 4 years

Does the child?

Follow directions involving three or more steps (First get some paper, then draw a picture and give it to Mommy)? YES NO
Use adult type grammar? YES NO
Tell stories with a beginning, middle and end? YES NO
Talk to try and solve problems with adults and with other children? YES NO
Show increasingly complex imaginary play? YES NO
Talk in a way that is understood by strangers almost all the time? YES NO
Generate simple rhymes (cat-bat)? YES NO
Match some letters with their sounds (letter b says buh, letter t says tuh)? YES NO