New Enhancements to Autism Support
The struggles that people with Autism and their families face, has recently come to public light with changes brought on by the government. Autism affects a person’s life through their ability to understand language, produce language, and to use language in social situations (Speech/Language, 2018). Communication is such a prevalent part of all of our lives, so it is essential that people with autism are able to get the support they need to communicate.
As of February, Ontario has announced new changes to improve the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) in order to make sure that all children with autism can receive the support they need. The government wants to provide the best support for children and their families dealing with autism and that starts by getting input from their parents. There is currently close to “23,000” children on the waitlist who are patiently waiting to receive support. The goal over the next 18 months is to get them all off the waitlist and provide proper support.
There will also be changes made so that it will be easier for families to receive funding. Any family with a child who has a written diagnosis of autism by a qualified professional and who is under the age of 18 years old will be eligible for the “Childhood Budget” (Ministry of Children and Youth Services, n.d.). This means that families with children under the age of 6 can receive up to $20,000 a year, and children over the age of 6 can receive up to $5000 a year to put towards beneficial services.
Changes will also be made to allow for a wider range of services available, including speech language pathology, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Children with autism have a difficult time with communicating and managing behavioral problems. A Speech and Language Therapist can help to improve a child’s ability to communicate and in turn can help address problematic behaviors (Speech/Language, 2018). Among these positive changes being made, children who have an Ontario Autism Program Behaviour Plan will continue to receive these services until their end date. As well, The Ministry of Education is working to increase support for educators in schools in order to help ensure that children with autism will feel supported and can be successful.
For additional information or to speak with one of our speech language pathologists, please contact us at (416) 553-0729