The Ontario Society for Autistic Children was founded in 1973 as a registered charity by a group of parents seeking to establish educational and support services for their children. Up until 1973, families were often forced to institutionalize their children because educational and treatment programs were not available. In the years since incorporation, we have seen great strides in research into the causes and treatment of autism and into the development of educational and community-based services for individuals with ASD.
In 1974, the organization was instrumental in conceiving of, advocating for, and raising the funds to support the first residential and educational treatment program for adolescents with autism in the province. This has grown into what is now Kerry’s Place Autism Services, offering community-based residential programs serving adolescents and adults with autism in the central and southeastern parts of the province.
In 1985, the Ontario Society for Autistic Children changed its name to the Ontario Society for Autistic Citizens to reflect the lifelong nature of autism and thus include within its mandate the needs of adults with autism.
In 1991, the name was changed again to Autism Society Ontario. This name change emphasized the importance of separating the disorder of autism from the individual. The name change was also in keeping with the national society and other provincial societies, as well as making it easier for the general public to locate the organization through telephone directories.
In 2006, Autism Society Ontario became Autism Ontario. The decision to drop the word “Society” from our name was a reflection of our goal of being more inclusive. It also shifted us from being known by a relatively uninformative acronym (ASO) to being regularly referred to by our full name.