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New ABA Services and Supports for Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
The Autism program at CHEO, in partnership with the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Center, is happy to announce that the Ministry of Children and Youth Services has funded new services which build on improving the continuum of care for children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in Ontario, and their families by implementing Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)-based services and supports.

The expansion of ABA-based services and supports for children with ASD is designed to help a broader range of children and youth with ASD develop skills in key areas and to address behaviours that interfere with functioning. ABA-based skill building services and supports include those that increase functional life skills and decrease interfering behaviours.

These services and supports promote the generalization and maintenance of skills across settings and different stimulus conditions and help children and youth with ASD build skills and manage behaviours so that they can participate in their communities.

Using an ABA approach, services and supports will focus on addressing the needs that children and youth with ASD have in four key areas: communication, social/interpersonal, daily living and behaviour management/emotional regulation.

1) Communication: the ability to use language for social purposes (for example, starting a conversation with another person), understanding language, using gestures, spoken and written language as well as pictures/symbols and facial expressions.

2) Social / Interpersonal: including the ability to establish and maintain relationships with other people, skills that serve as building blocks for developing other skills such as joint attention, turn taking, play, and recreation.

3) Daily Living: including personal care activities (toileting and hygiene), domestic skills (cleaning, laundry, shopping, food preparation), use of community services (public transportation, banking, restaurants, accessing community services), motor skills, vocational skills in preparation for adulthood, personal safety skills and skills related to personal boundaries.

4) Behaviour management / emotional regulation: to address the aggressive, destructive and self-injurious behaviours which interfere with the child’s learning of positive skills and to focus on difficulties that children and youth may have related to attention, planning, problem solving and memory that may impede their ability to plan and follow through on a course of action.

Eligibility and intake process

The target population for these services is children and youth who have a diagnosis of ASD and who require assistance to develop their skills in one or more areas to improve their quality of life.

Children and youth of age 0-17 (up to 18th birthday) are eligible for services if they have confirmation of an ASD diagnosis from a professional who is qualified to make a diagnosis

[1] of Autism/Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not
Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), or Asperger’s Disorder[2].

Eligible children and youth may be receiving other ASD-specific or general services and supports funded by MCYS or other ministries. Children receiving services and supports may continue to receive these services in addition to ABA-based services and supports. Other services and supports that children are receiving will be considered in the development of the ABA-based service plan. Children and youth who are on the waitlist for IBI services delivered through the AIP, who have been discharged from the AIP or who are in the AIP are eligible for ABA-based services and supports.

Referral for service will be accompanied by assessment and other information pertaining to the child or youth and their family that will assist in the identification of service needs. Where a diagnosis of an ASD has also been made by the referring professional, all required assessment information and documentation pertaining to that diagnosis will be provided to the service provider accepting the referral[3]. Where ABA-based services and supports are determined not to be appropriate for children and youth with ASD referred to an ABA-based service provider, referrals will be made to other available services to address the needs of children and youth and their families. Referrals to other local services will be coordinated with local access mechanisms in communities where these bodies play a role in simplifying access to services.

In order to access services, a referral can be made by a parent/caregiver and/or a professional such as[4]:
  • Family physician
  • Psychiatrist
  • Developmental paediatrician
  • Psychologist
  • Psychological Associate
  • Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Social Worker
  • Nurse (includes Registered Practical Nurses, Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners).

Services and supports to be provided

The ABA-based services and supports provided through this initiative are not designed to address all the needs that children and youth with ASD may have, or to be offered in an intensive way over a long period of time. These supports are not intended to replace comprehensive programs that are available to many children and youth with ASD.
Rather, services will target the development of specific skills in the areas of communication, social/interpersonal, daily living and behaviour management/emotional regulation.

Services are designed to target the child’s or youth’s highest priority skill development area(s). Services will be provided for between two and six months depending on the child’s or youth’s identified needs and the type of service being delivered. Services will typically be delivered in group format and provided for between two and four hours per week with flexibility to provide services more or less frequently as appropriate depending on the type and design of the service to be delivered.

Parent/caregiver engagement in service delivery

The ability of this initiative to lead to selected outcomes for children and youth with ASD is dependent to a significant degree on the involvement of parents/caregivers in learning the strategies being taught to their children and incorporating these techniques into daily activities. This ongoing support is essential in order for children and youth to maintain the skills they have learned, and apply these skills in other settings and with other people. For this reason, the involvement of parents/caregivers is a core component of this initiative.

We will be working closely with our community partners to further enhance these new services (more information will be provided in the months ahead).
To make a referral for ABA Services and Supports:
Tel: (613) 745-5963
Toll free 1-877-542-2294
Address: CHEO
ABA Supports and Services
1661 Montreal Road
Ottawa K1J 9B7
We will be happy to take your calls from 8 am to 4 pm.
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