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Toronto, May 25 (Canadian-Media): Ontario government in Canada had announced that it would implement a new, direct funding option as part of the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) by the end of this year, media reports said.
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), reported by Ontario news release, is a lifelong, complex neurodevelopmental disorder which is characterized by lack of social communication and interaction and repetitive behaviour,.
Based on the most recent prevalence rate from the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, prevalence in children and youth living with ASD has grown from 1 in 150 in 2002 to 1 in 68 in 2010.
According to estimates, nearly 40,000 children and youth in Ontario live with ASD.
Ontario government is investing over the next four years half-billion dollars to create new services for children and youth with ASD.
Minister of Children and Youth Services, Michael Coteau, while speaking last week with families at Monarch House in Oakville, had announced, “I want all families to experience a smooth transition into the new OAP starting this June. That means that families currently receiving direct funding will continue to receive that funding until the direct funding option in the new OAP is implemented later this year. I want to reassure parents the support you are receiving now through the direct funding option will not stop in June and will continue until you enter the new program. The changes we are introducing are the first steps in building an OAP that is co-ordinated, family-centred and responsive to children’s unique needs, strengths and goals.”
Minister Coteau said this will enable families to chose between getting direct service or direct funding option (DFO) to purchase services for their children.
Tracie Lindblad, Clinical Director, Monarch House said she supported “the move to a direct funding model that aligns the needs and goals of the child and their family with their ability to choose the most appropriate course of treatment… Our continued commitment to families is to ensure that autism treatment services are provided professionally and with the necessary clinical supervision and oversight.”
Bruce McIntosh, President, Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC) said, “DFO will give families greater choice and flexibility in service delivery at a fraction of the cost-per-child.”
As part of the new OAP, streamlined entry to autism services will also be provided through a toll-free number in families’ regions.
The transition into the new OAP program will be slow and families currently receiving direct funding will continue to do so till the program is fully in place by spring 2018.
It is expected that OAO would create 16,000 new spaces over five years and the OAP Advisory Committee would ensure that best possible support is being provided for children and youth with autism, from diagnosis to adulthood.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)