The Ontario Court of Appeal has passed a ruling on the provision of support and services for children and youth with autism.
According to Mary Anne Chambers, Ontario's Minister of Children and Youth Services, while there exists some confusion over what this would spell for the families of autistic children, the Ontario government has made it clear that it will continue to provide support and services to autistic children regardless of age. The government has been building and improving services for autistic children from the time they are diagnosed, all through their school years to help meet their changing needs.
She said that last week's court ruling only confirmed that it was the government and not the court, that has the jurisdiction to determine how government resources are best allocated. The Ontario government has been conducting assessments of the needs of autistic children and youth consistently since last July and kids have not been discharged from services on the basis of age.
Chambers praised the McGuinty government for having almost doubled its investment in services for autistic children and their families to more than $112 million annually since taking office in 2003. She said that 110 new therapists have been hired, increasing the number of children receiving Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI) therapy to 795 as of March 2006.
She claimed that in June, the government has invested an additional $13.1 million to deliver IBI to at least 120 more children and also provide additional supports to the affected and their families.
She has also claimed that since 2004, the number of children waiting for assessments has been reduced by 68 per cent. This would represent a significant progress because once an assessment of autism was made, a treatment plan can be designed, and the child and family can begin to receive support.
Chambers has also stated that the government is investing in research to make more information available about the most appropriate support and services for children with autism.
The government has also recently announced a partnership with the Geneva Centre for Autism to train early childhood educators, 5,000 educational assistants and 1,600 child-care workers. Last year an Ontario College Graduate Certificate Program in Autism and Behavioral Science was created with an aim of increasing the number of qualified autism professionals.
Last spring the first batch of 100 graduates completed the program and by next year it is expected that another 200 graduates will be available to support autistic children.