Ontario Autism Program Updates
Ontario Autism Program (OAP) used to provide funding for behaviour therapy or Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy only. Recent changes to the OAP will allow for a wider range of services available, including speech therapy. Children on the waitlist for the OAP will transition to Childhood Budgets. Eligible families on the OAP waitlist will receive a letter from the ministry when it is time for them to apply for a Childhood Budget. Families on the waitlist on April 1, 2019 can expect to receive their first Childhood Budget within the next 18 months.
Recent changes to OAP will include:
- Childhood budget: Childhood budget will provide funding for children with autism use a wider range of eligible services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy technology aids etc. The Childhood budget is available for children up to the age of 18 years old who have a diagnosis of autism. Children under the age of 6 are eligible for “$20,000” in funding, and children over the age of 6 are eligible for “$5,000” in funding per year. As of April 2019, families can start to receive “Childhood Budgets”, and those who are on the waitlist can expect to receive funding within 18 months.
- Diagnostic Hubs: Diagnostic hubs are centres that are able to diagnose autism in children across the province. Ontario is doubling funding to the diagnostic hubs over the next two years to help more children receive an autism diagnosis sooner and help connect families to local services in their communities. Evidence shows that when children start intervention between ages two and five, they gain improvements in cognitive and language development, are better prepared for school and have better long-term outcomes in adulthood.
- Independent Intake Agency: Over the next year, the ministry will establish a new independent intake agency which will assist families in registering for the program, provide them with their Childhood Budgets and offer support to help them choose which services to purchase.
- An updated online list of service providers that families can access.
- Provide support to families in order to help them understand the OAP.
How to register for the OAP or Childhood Budget?
According to the ministry if you are registered for the OAP you don’t have to register again. All children under the age of 18 with a diagnosis of autism can register for the OAP. To register, contact the ministry’s registration team (1-888-444-4530). When your registration is complete you child will be added to the waiting list.
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. Speech therapy can now be accessed through Childhood Budgets. Contact Speech Therapy Works to set up an appointment for an assessment and treatment. We work with children with autism to help improve all aspects of language including receptive language, expressive language, articulation, reading, writing and social pragmatic skills.