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Ontario Autism Program: What To Do While Waiting for Core Clinical Services?

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Please note this article contains hyperlinks. Also, this is not an exhaustive list. But, hopefully, it will be a helpful start for you.

Unfortunately, Ontario historically has long waits for any government-issued funding and programs. But, there are still a few things that you can do while waiting.

Text reads "What to do while waiting for core clinical services. Access the free programs in the OAP. Apply for other financial assistance resources. Connect with your regional SmartStart Hub or Children's Treatment Centre. Research public & private providers in your area & get onto waitlists. Check out Autism Ontario's workshops & social opportunities. Learn about autism and neurodiversity"

(1) Access the free programs in the OAP

The OAP (Ontario Autism Program) consists of BOTH direct funding and free programs. There has been a lot of focus on Core Clinical Services which is the direct funding part of the OAP and understandably so. Funding enables families to access direct services for their children

But, Core Clinical Services is not the entirety of the OAP.

The other parts of the OAP are important too and are provided free to families.

Please see our previous article that explains the different parts of the OAP here.

There is a wait for Core Clinical Services. Families will be invited in order by registration date. But, there may still be supports that you can access (once you receive an OAP number) such as:

These programs are not meant to replace direct service from trained professionals. But, they may help by providing more insight and information about ASD, and giving parents/caregivers tools to help their children.

Learning and implementing strategies can support your child’s growth and development. It can help your child generalize their skills to new settings. When parents learn about strategies and methods that are effective for their child, they can then support their child at home or in the community as well as with other people. Parent involvement and training are essential

(2) Apply for other financial assistance resources

There are other programs that offer financial assistance. While the funding may not be used towards therapy, they can help offset costs in other areas. Check out our list of funding resources here. Some are region-specific, time limited and/or income-dependent. Note that not all are ASD-specific.

We also have our own list of disability/autism-related resources here.

Be aware that there may also be a wait. But, it's good to at least apply.

(3) Connect with your regional SmartStart Hub or Children's Treatment Centre (CTC)

Ontario has several publicly-funded regional centres that offer rehabilitation services, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy to children with special needs up to the age of 19 (please note that service offerings may have eligibility requirements and be time-limited). You may be able to access preschool speech and language services, workshops, social worker services, service coordination, etc.

Find your hub here

(4) Research public & private providers in your area and get onto waitlists

Even if you don't have the funding, you should still find out who in your area offers the services your child needs. If you are in a region that is underserved, you may have to consider virtual/telehealth services. Do your due diligence (not all providers are alike!) and consider getting onto any waitlists now so that you're not wasting precious time later.

You can use the OAP Provider List to look for service providers that have demonstrated and verified experience working with people on the autism spectrum. This directory contains clinical supervisors (BCBAs and Clinical Psychologists for ABA), OTs, and SLPs. However, keep in mind that registration is still voluntary. So, there may be many providers who are not listed yet. There is also CommunityConnect which is a centralized community portal where you can search for autism services, and Autism Ontario resources and events. Here, you can find PTs, mental health professionals, respite providers, social workers, etc.

Here are some resources that may be helpful in your search:

(5) Check out Autism Ontario's workshops & social opportunities

Autism Ontario is a charitable organization that has been offering information, supports and programs to autistic individuals and their families for nearly 50 years.

Find out what region you're in here and check out their list of events here

(6) Learn about autism and neurodiversity

This one can be challenging because the internet is full of unhelpful information. There still are a lot of misconceptions and ableist ideas about autism. Often, you will find yourself unlearning a lot. Your child's neurology is different. So, you will have to do things differently. It is a journey. Not only do you have to learn about your child's neurotype, you will also have to learn how to navigate social services, health services, Special Education, etc.

Your child will have challenges and be challenged. Their needs will change over time. But, there is also a large, dynamic community that can help.

Here are some resources that you may find helpful (more may be added to this list):

Text reads "Do you have questions about the OAP? Ask us! If you are struggling to navigate autism services in Ontario, reach out and we can help guide you!""

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