Mission Statement: This blog was created to provide information on getting help for autism in general while focussing on locally available resources for families with newly diagnosed children in Belleville and Quinte area.

Please browse the blog at your leisure and if you have autism related questions, please join facebook group discussions at Exceptional Minds Quinte If you are a parent, an autism consultant, counselor, teacher with information on autism resources available in our area, please feel free to post your information on this blog. You can do this by emailing your posts to bsangma@cogeco.ca

How to set up autism visual support at home

Local Autism Support Groups

Parents Engaging Autism Quinte (PEAQ), an autism parent support group meeting scheduled on August 7, Monday at Kerry's Place, 189 Victoria Avenue, Belleville at 6:30 p.m. has been canceled due to low attendance interest. Meetings will resume in September. The date for September meeting is 12th.

Email bsangma@cogeco.ca if you have questions or suggestions for autism topics that are important to you so that we can invite appropriate autism professionals to speak at these meetings.

Autism parent support group meeting hosted by Mental Health Agency, Trenton and Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) meeting is on the Third Thursday of the month. If you have any questions or require any further information please contact Orlana Bourgoin at orlana.b@trentonmfrc.ca or 613 392 2811 x 3953

For info on Community Living Prince Edward County Parent Support group, contact Resource Consultants @ 613 476 6038

Central Hastings Autism Support Group meets in Madoc at the Recreation Centre. Contact Renee O’Hara, Family Resource & Support, 613-966-7413 or Tammy Kavanagh, Family Resource & Support, 613-332-3227

Friday, June 9, 2017

Summary of A Local Parent's Direct Funding Story

The new Ontario Autism Program (OAP) is being introduced this month. In that new program, children who have been on the waitlist for Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI) will be given a chance to be off the waitlist by receiving a sum of direct funding for their families to seek private service providers. This is good news! But what happens next, is the question that might be on parents minds. Where do we find those professionals? Are they in our communities? Probably not. If they are in our communities, they might also be fully booked and your child could be placed on another waitlist to access the services of that service provider. According to the parent at our autism parent support group PEAQ meeting in Belleville, under the old autism intervention program some years ago, her child's name was placed on both the direct service and direct funding option list. She had the choice of taking the option that came up up first. She wanted to get help for her son as quickly as possible and so she took the direct funding option. She began her search for available individual autism service providers in Quinte area and began series of interviews with individuals she found through word of mouth. She said that she was so frustrated, stressed and second-guessing herself that she wanted to give it all up soon after and put her son back on the direct service waitlist. Under direct service, the government agency responsible for the autism intervention program, has the responsiblity for planning your child's support all the way. Parent's responsibility is to simply bring their child to the agency at a scheduled time each day for the child to receive full planned program. It might be 20 hours a week or less but that is it. Parents might be given information on goals to work with their child at home but it ended there. This parent, no surprise there having known her strength and resourcefulness as far as professional intervention system for her child with autism is concerned, she pulled up her socks and decided to go through with direct funding option. After many interviews with potential candidates, again through wood of mouth she found an agency in Kingston whose representative finally gave her the full package that she needed for her child's support team. The agency had a clinical psychologist, senior therapist and an instructor therapist. Each professional had to be paid on time so she also became a clever accountant supervising payment and receipt details. She became a co-ordinator who scheduled time with each professional. She went over assessments and sat down to set new goals with the team to make sure that her child's support is on track each week. Now, many parents might have the same motivation and drive to make direct funding option work but for many, it might come as a big challenge and a huge barrier because we don't have a list of qualified private autism service providers in areas like ours to take on the demand load that's going to hit our community soon. On the upside, please know that under the new program the regional service provider you are connected to is obliged by the government to give you the direct funding option and support to find your private autism intervention team. This was not so under the old autism intervention program in Ontario. Just expect to go through some hard detailed work to gather information, focused planning and organization but know that parents of children with autism and special needs, we are a motivated and driven lot because our children need us to be.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Direct funding will require parents to form their child's own autism Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) team. Who's who on that team?

In the US, Applied Behavious Analysis professionals have to be certified by the Behaviour Analist Certification Board. It is not so stringent in Canada. In Ontario, ONTABA (Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis), which is a chapter of the association for Behavior Analysis International, has membership across professions ranging from education, nursing, healthcare and psychology.
Also, in this province, autism professionals usually have a university degree or community college diploma in fields such as sociology, psychology, behaviour science, early childhood education and child and youth work. What you need for ABA team are three core personnel: A Clinical Director, A Senior Therapist and An Instructor Therapist. As I understand it,

The clinical director oversees, monitors and evaluates the IBI program designed specifically for your child's needs. She or he will also oversee assessments and individual program plans. Their responsibility is to train and supervise the senior therapist, trainees within the program and for fulfilling any or all provincial information and evaluation requirements. The qualifications for this role requires
1. training and extensive clinical experience in intensive behavioural intervention for young children with autism, 
2. have a doctoral degree in psychology 
3. be registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario. 

The senior therapist supervises the instructor therapist and participate in one on one of small group instructions. They are supervised by the clinical director or psychologist. They supervise parents for home programming. 
1. He/she should have master’s level graduate degree in psychology or related field. 
2. Six months to a year clinical experience in IBI for childen with autism.

The instructor therapist will be involved with your child one-on-one and with small group involving you child as necessary. He/she will maintain daily data book for your child to allow for monitoring of your child's progress. Their qualification should be community college or university undergrads in a related field. But keeping an eye on any combined experience and educational background could be beneficial. The bottom line is to find an instructor therapist that rapports well with your child with autism because ultimately that will be the key to any progress. 

The real challenge will be finding each of these potential and qualified members on your team and it will need diligence and time to find each of these members because their availability might vary. In most communities, they will not be available in the same city or town. Travelling time, either for you or the team members, will have to be included in the daily schedule. This will need extra careful thought and planning especially if both parents work. But once this part is over and the team is in place, you are well on your way to successfully finding and providing support for your child with autism. It needs hard work and thorough planning but like I said before, totally doable.

My next post will be about a parent's direct funding experience in Ontario.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Direct funding for autism is great news but what does it mean for parents?

The news of the direct funding for autism in Ontario that would allow parents to form their own team of autism professionals to support their child with autism is great news but what does it really mean for parents? For one, the onus of getting qualified professional will now fall completely on the parents, some of whom may or may not be in a position to take charge of putting together a team of professionals, who have to be identified, interviewed, scheduled, monitored and paid on time. There is also the matter of providing space in the house for the program sessions. If parents are already financially strained (who isn't, really?), their available time stretched thin on managing work, running the household, caring for other other children in the family (aren't the plates of parents of special needs children already piled to the brim?), and if being organized is not one their strongest skillset (I struggle with it personally but have learned strategies to be as organized as I can be), then taking on the direct funding program might become a highly stressful challenge, which in turn could negatively affect the progress of their child with autism. This would then defeat the purpose of the new program, which is to get earliest possible intervention for the child for autism. But, with the right amount of information and guideline, and by setting up the foundation for success via initial detailed planning and organization, direct funding program is doable for parents.
One of the most important things for parents getting into this program is to lay emphasis on the qualification of the team that they are going to pull together. At this time, those qualified with formal credentials are nowhere near the number that will be needed to meet the demand that's going to hit the communities across Ontario the moment the direct funding begins to roll out by the end of this year. So, planning ahead is key and to plan effectively, one needs information. The first steps are to find out who do you need on the team and what will be their roles? What qualifications do you need to see in these professionals? How to interview them? How often to schedule the sessions? How will they be paid? How to manage the funding from the government, when it comes in.
I'll attempt to gather information on each of these questions and post them here as fast as I get them.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Direct Funding For Autism Coming Soon in Ontario

This is pretty exciting news for families supporting children with autism in
Ontario. It is promising in that it will help parents access available autism
resources as fast as they can for their children without having to be in
endless waitlists. At the same time, it can be overwhelming for parents
who are already neck deep in spending moment in caring for their child.
Hopefully, this is a step forward and our children with autism will be able to get quicker access to professional intervention as early as possible.
"News Release from Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services
Expanding Service Options for Children and Youth with Autism
Direct Funding Service Option Will Be Offered in New Ontario Autism Program
May 18, 2017 1:45 P.M.

Ontario is giving families of children with autism more options for their children's service by offering a new, permanent direct funding option, which will be implemented by the end of this year through the Ontario Autism Program (OAP).
Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau made the announcement at Monarch House in Oakville today, speaking with families about Ontario's commitment to flexible services and supports for children and youth with autism.
By the end of this year, the province will implement a new direct funding option as part of the OAP. This will allow all families to choose between receiving direct service or receiving funding to purchase services for their child. Families currently receiving direct funding will continue to receive their funding throughout the transition, and will be able to choose the new OAP direct funding option to receive services from their preferred provider.
Next month, families will begin to transition into the new OAP, which will provide services that are flexible and tailored to the unique needs of each child, regardless of age. The program will be implemented gradually over the coming year, with the program expected to be fully in place by spring 2018. The new program includes a single point of entry for families to more easily access services and will create 16,000 new spaces over five years, so that more children and youth with autism can receive the services they need sooner.
The province will continue to engage with families, caregivers, advocates, clinicians and providers, including the OAP Advisory Committee, to ensure the new program is providing the best possible supports and services for children and youth with autism, from diagnosis to adulthood.
Quick Facts
  • Parents can call 1-888-284-8340 toll-free for more information or to find their nearest ministry regional office.
  • Streamlined entry to autism services through a toll-free number in families’ regions will also be provided as part of the new OAP.
  • Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong, complex neurodevelopmental disorder. It is characterized by persistent deficits in social communication and interaction and repetitive behaviour. Symptoms of autism vary significantly and range in severity.
  • Ontario is investing an unprecedented half-billion dollars over the next four years to create new services for children and youth with ASD.
  • There are an estimated 40,000 children and youth in Ontario with ASD.
  • Based on the most recent prevalence rate from the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, prevalence has grown from 1 in 150 in 2002 to 1 in 68 in 2010."
Additional Resources

Blog Archive

In it for the long haul...

I created this blog with my sincere wish that those of you reading this will want to share your own stories, both good and bad, what worked for you and what didn't and together, we can make it easier for the next family beginning their own journey of discovery. By posting what you know, where you have recieved certain services, who you have talked to, whose expertise you trust, how you navigated the school education services and by responding to questions in the discussion thread, know that you have helped a family in need. So, parents, experts in the field, counsellors, teachers and everyone who has any information on resources available, please feel free to post on this blog.