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Kids with autism to get more help

Starting late next spring, communities across the province will offer new services and supports for children and youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Roughly 8,000 kids with ASD will benefit annually from new Applied Behaviour Analysis-based services, which will help them develop communication, social and daily living skills, and manage better in school.

This is in addition to the intensive therapy already benefitting 1,446 children and youth under Ontario’s Autism Intervention Program.

Ontario also is investing in the future of autism research in the province.

A new clinical expert committee will provide advice on emerging research and best practices.

Investment in leading-edge autism research right here in Ontario will help to improve early detection and diagnosis, and better understand links with other conditions.

“We are building on the significant progress we’ve made since 2003,” said Children and Youth Services minister Laurel Broten.

“More kids are getting the right supports at the right time.

“Our government understands the challenges faced by families with children and youth with autism spectrum disorders, and we’re determined to continue to make progress for these kids and their families,” she added.

“This is very good news,” said Margaret Spoelstra, executive director of Autism Ontario.

“Along with thousands of families of children with ASD, Autism Ontario welcomes this further investment into evidence-based behavioural approaches,” she remarked.

“Our hope is that the implementation of these types of approaches will help children with autism learn, that the stress experienced by families in raising children with ASD will be reduced, and the capacity of the local community to respond appropriately to the developmental and learning needs of these children will continue to improve,” Spoelstra added.

ABA is based on scientific principles of learning and behaviour. It reinforces positive behaviours, reduces problematic ones, and helps kids with autism build the skills they need to learn and be more independent.

Ontario is increasing its annual spending on autism by $25 million. Since 2003-04, the government has more than quadrupled autism investments to more than $186.6 million.

Since 2004, Ontario has committed more than $15 million to autism-related research.

As well, Ontario helped almost 800 families send their children and youth with ASD to March Break camps and more than 1,100 to summer camps last year.

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