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Autism Ontario Responds to the Ministry of Education

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Toronto, Ontario, March 11, 2019 Autism Ontario Responds to Ontario Ministry of Education’s News Release “Enhancing Education Support: A Plan for Students with Autism” Today’s announcement by the Ministry of Education does not address the fundamental concerns and worries that parents of students with autism express to us daily at Autism Ontario. Many of the announced resources today remain thin on details and scope of impact or implementation requirements. This announcement makes no mention of how to resolve the gap that remains between coordinating ABA services between

Webinar - Positive Advocacy Strategies for School - The IPRC Process with Ed Mahony

In this webinar, you will learn important skills that a parent advocate needs to develop in order to be successful, as well as how to make the IPRC process work for you. Support material and references will be made available. Mr. Mahony will answer questions about the webinar material however ongoing individualized support is available on a fee for service basis.


Presenter: Ed Mahony

Ed Mahony Pic

Ed Mahony is both a Parent Advocate and Special Education Resource Teacher. He supports parents in learning to provide positive, practical and proven strategies to work successfully with their children's schools to address special education needs. Ed also provides individual consultation to families in person, online and by phone throughout the province. 

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Negotiating the Maze - Strategies For Effective Advocacy In Schools

Negotiating the Maze Cover

Guide by Ed Mahony of Mahony Advocacy.  Advocacy is about securing, protecting and advancing the rights of one’s self or others. Special education students have rights. The Ministry of Education has enacted legislation and regulations to support the education of special needs children. School boards are responsible for implementing programs in compliance with current legislation and regulations.

Parents, however, may have to strongly advocate to ensure that their child’s rights are met at school. It is the parent’s right and responsibility to see that their child has an appropriate educational program, and it is certainly acceptable for parents to advocate for their child. A parent’s relationship with the school/school board is not a social relationship. It is a business/legal relationship with the goal of getting the most appropriate education for your child. 

Most effective parent advocates share a combination of important knowledge and skills:
• An understanding of special education regulations and rules
• An understanding of special education law
• A sense of procedural advocacy
• A realistic sense of what they want and how to work with staff to achieve their goals

Readiness for the Safe Return to School: Findings from the 2020 Autism Ontario Education Survey

In its 2020 survey, Readiness for the Safe and Successful Return to School, Autism Ontario gathered information from parents or caregivers of Ontario children and youth on the autism spectrum in the education system regarding:

  • Their experiences of the COVID-19 school closure earlier this spring, and
  • Their concerns and perspectives for the return to school in the context of COVID-19 this fall.


Cover page of the report: "Readiness for the Safe and Successful Return to School - Findings from the 2020 Autism Ontario Education Survey


The Individual Education Plan (IEP)

What is an IEP?
The IEP is an active, working document designed to help a student to be successful. It includes the following information:

  • The student’s strengths, interests and needs;
  • Special education programs and/or services a student requires;
  • Annual Goals: what a student is expected to learn in a school year;
  • Learning Expectations: what a student will learn in a term;
  • Accommodations: supports and services a student requires in order to learn at his or her age-appropriate grade level;
  • Modifications: changes made to the age-appropriate expectations in order to meet a student’s learning needs. These can include specific changes to the age-appropriate expectations and expectations that are taken from a different grade level within the Ontario curriculum;
  • Alternate Expectations: what a student will be learning that is not part of the Ontario curriculum;
  • Teaching Strategies: what will be used to teach;
  • Assessment Methods: how the student’s progress will be evaluated.

Thinking of Post-Secondary Education?

Colleges and universities throughout Ontario report that, more than ever, individuals who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are seeking a post-secondary education. This reflects the trend of earlier diagnosis and intervention, and our ability to identify individuals with milder forms of ASDs such as Asperger Syndrome. Although this trend is encouraging, post-secondary education presents some challenges for individuals with an ASD and for the systems of support at colleges and universities. Fortunately, universities and colleges are committed to being accessible to a wide range of students with disabilities. In the following article, we describe some of the key considerations for individuals who may be considering postsecondary education, and for their families.

COVID-19 Back-to-School Transition Meeting Checklist

September is around the corner and we know that parents, students, and teachers alike are anxious about transitioning back to classrooms and/or online learning. We hope that that Autism Ontario’s COVID-19 Back to School Transition Meeting Checklist, available in English and French, will remove some of the anxiety surrounding the return to school for families with children on the autism spectrum.

The checklist is designed to help you experience a successful transition planning meeting.


Download the file called COVID-19 Back to School Transition Meeting Checklist to see the image.

Sexual Education

The Sexual Profile

There is remarkably little research and clinical knowledge on the sexual understanding and profile of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). One hundred thirty-one subjects living in Canada, Australia, France, Denmark and the United States completed the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory (DSFI; Derogatis and Melisaratos, 1982). The DSFI examines a range of aspects related to sexuality including knowledge and experience, desire, attitudes, affect, role, fantasies, body image and general sexual satisfaction. It provides a comprehensive assessment of behavior and attitudes relevant to sexuality.

Medication, Education and Advocacy

When a physician prescribes a patient medication, they have a conversation with one another about how much medication to take each day, the different ways to take the prescription, how the patient will know the medication is working, and any possible side effects caused by the medication. This is an important ongoing dialogue that helps to keep the patient informed, but what happens when a patient is unable to have a conversation or ask questions like this with their doctor? What happens to patients who need assistance with figuring out the answers?

Priority #1: Education Support

~ 5 minute read What was the problem identified in 2018? In 2018, in Autism Ontario’s provincewide survey of 1,514 caregivers and 87 autistic adults, Education support was identified as the highest area of need. Nevertheless, 69% of caregivers of elementary school and 77.8% of high school aged children agreed with the statement “We feel listened to by our child’s school.” Why is it still relevant? The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 changed the face of education in Ontario. Classes were shuttered and students sent home to attend school remotely. In the case of parents and

Autism Ontario's Education Position Statement

Our Educational Position Statements are designed to help parents resolve school issues, obtain needed educational supports or services and help promote a change in the practices, policies and/or behaviours in our educational system in a respectful, positive and effective way. What do you need to know as a parent? Advocacy is about securing, protecting and advancing the rights of one’s self or others. Students on the autism spectrum have rights. The Ministry of Education has enacted legislation and regulations to support the education of students with special needs. School boards are

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

What is an IEP? The Individual Education Plan (IEP) is an active, working document designed to help a student be successful. It includes the following information: The student’s strengths and needs; Special education programs and/or services a student requires; Annual Goals: what a student is expected to learn in a school year; Learning Expectations: what a student will learn in a reporting term; Accommodations: supports and services a student requires in order to learn at their current grade level; Modifications: changes made to the current grade level expectations in order to meet a student

Education Scholarships

Applications for Autism Ontario Post-Secondary Education Scholarships are now open for the month of April 2021. Each year, Autism Ontario awards scholarships to outstanding students entering their first year of a post-secondary program throughout Ontario. Read below for information about each scholarship, and click the highlighted link to apply online for the scholarship that suits you. Autism Ontario does not publish award winner's names without their expressed consent. If you receive any of the below scholarships, Autism Ontario will request and welcome any pictures, written responses, or

Social Matters - Improving Social Skills Interventions for Ontarians with ASD

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We know the importance of social skills in our world. We know that learning social skills is a life long journey for all of us, but especially for those living with ASD. We also know that people with ASD can develop the social skills they need with the appropriate supports, education and practice.

Within this document, we reviewed relevant research on best practices in social skills programming. In this paper, we provide information
about some of the most frequently referenced social skills experts and models. We describe how to critically evaluate and select appropriate social skills groups. We also share information about social skills program components that may be used by community partners when developing social skills programs.

Teachers - What to Expect

1. What are the academic requirements for a person to become a certified teacher?
In order to become a member of the Ontario College of Teachers, a person must have the minimum of a three year Bachelor’s degree in a subject domain, such as Arts, Commerce or Science, and a Bachelor of Education. All teacher education programs include a substantial practice teaching component where practice and performance are rigorously evaluated.

Webinar - ABA in Educational Settings with Tracie Lindbland

The purpose of this webinar is to define applied behaviour analysis (ABA) and clarify how it fits into the Ontario education system through the implementation of Policy and Program Memorandum 140 (PPM- 140). Applied Behaviour Analysis has been shown to be an effective, evidence-based treatment for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Systematic and guided application of these principles within the educational
setting can improve the behaviour, communication, learning, and social challenges experienced by children with ASD.


Presenter: Tracie Lindblad, Reg. CASLPO, M.Sc., M.Ed., BCBA

Tracie Lindbland

Tracie is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) with over 25 years experience working with children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). She received her BCBA in 2010 when she became one of only three SLP-BCBA credentialed individuals in Canada and the only professional with this designation in Ontario at that time. 

Tracie is also the founder and President of Four Points, a private centre providing intensive Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) therapy to children with ASD. She is the Clinical Director within the ABA programs for the centre-based clients and functions as the Clinical Supervisor for clients in funded (DFO) home-based programs.Tracie is the Co-founder and Executive Director of the Child Development Centre of Oakville and the Owner/Clinical Director of the Halton Hills Speech Centre, private paediatric speech and language centres in the Halton

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Accessing Inclusive Personal Training Programs for Young Adults with Autism

In Canada, studies have shown that only approximately 3% of individuals with a disability are actively engaged in organized sport.

However, educators and others are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of personal fitness for students with special education needs and typically developing children alike2. And some are convinced that physical education has a central role to play in building self-esteem and social skills that in turn lead to a more active and inclusive lifestyle for young people with autism.

Preparing for a Successful School Meeting

Child waiting outside a school

Review Documentation

  • Look at the current Individual Education Plan (IEP), Behaviour Safety Plan (BSP) Report Card and any other documentation that you have received from the school
  • Review your child’s recent evaluations and assessments. If the school hasn’t provided you with copies, be sure to ask for them prior to any meeting.
  • Review notes from previous meetings (within the last year), as well as copies of the IEP, BSP and Report Card to see what changes or progress has been made.

Read more.

The Transition to Post-secondary Studies

a young man with a backpack exits a building

The education world is more and more conscious of the importance of putting in place effective and feasible strategies to help facilitate the transition to post-secondary studies for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although this transition represents a crucial step in the life of ALL students, it remains a significant challenge for students with ASD, given the range of their needs.

Read more.

What to Expect: Occupational Therapists

What is the role of an Occupational Therapist (OT)?

  • An occupational therapist is trained on assessing and treating the impact of a developmental delay, injury, illness or disability on the function of a person. An OT views the person as a whole and considers the physical, cognitive, spiritual and social aspects of a person.
  • The environment and demands of the environment are considered
  • The impact of the environment on the function of a person is considered
  • The impact of the injury/delay or disability on a child’s self care (such as eating, dressing, hygiene), school skills and play skills are considered How does an OT help children with ASD?
  • Assess a child’s level in gross motor/fine motor/ visual motor/ activities of daily living
  • Assess sensory processing skills
  • Make recommendations for specific items that can make function easier (laptop, pencil grips, rubber matting, weighted vests, etc.)
  • Make suggestions to modify a child’s environment for success
  • Provide therapy to help remediate a child’s delays
  • Provide education to parents/caregivers and teachers to support a child’s development
  • Make referrals to other professionals that can also support a child’s development

Webinar - Why & Where Culture Matters For Families with ASD with Mohammad Zubairi

This webinar, with Dr. Mohammad Zubairi, will promote a discussion and reflection on how front-line professionals may engage with elements of culture in their day to day practice, and how we can best learn from and collaborate with diverse children and youth with autism and their families.

Presenter - Dr. Mohammad Zubairi

Mohammad Zubairi

Dr. Mohammad Zubairiis a Developmental Pediatrician at Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre & Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University. His primary area of clinical work is with children and youth with autism. He is a member of the McMaster Autism Research Team. He completed his clinical fellowship at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and a Master of Education through OISE (Ontario Institute of Studies in Education)/University of Toronto. He sits on the steering committee for PONDA (Physicians of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Advocacy) Network, and on the executive for the Section on Developmental Paediatrics at the Canadian Paediatric Society. He is also a board member for the SAAAC Autism Centre (South Asian Autism Awareness Centre). 

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Preparing for Kindergarten: Ideas for Families

A child going to school for the first time is a milestone for every family. When a child has special needs, the process of getting ready is even more important! Everyone (the child with autism, their family, school staff and other students) benefits from good planning, clear information and some important activities in the months before a child begins his or her journey through the education system.

PEERS: Lessons in relationships for young adults

How do I let someone know I’m interested in them? How do I exchange contact  information? What steps are needed for planning a get-together or a date? These are questions that nine young men had when they became part of the PEERS for Young Adults program that the Niagara Chapter offered this past spring. PEERS (Program for Enrichment & Education of Relational Skills) was developed by Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson from UCLA
for teens with high functioning autism and Aspergers who are interested in learning how to make and keep friends. PEERS is a 14- week, evidence-based social skills program where caregivers (social coaches) and teens have separate but concurrent weekly lessons pertaining to social skills

Webinar - ONTABA Caregiver Series - Self Care Skills During COVID-19 with Janice Theodoropoulos

It has been difficult for us all to adjust to the many changes in our daily lives and to acquire the skills needed to keep healthy in a today’s world. Join Janice Theodoropoulos M.Ed, BCBA as she provides some suggestions for how we can help children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to do what is necessary to keep themselves and their families as safe as possible. Consistent and proper hand washing, touching as few things as possible on necessary trips, coughing and sneezing into our elbows, and keeping the new level of appropriate space have never been more vital to our health and the health of our loved ones. She will provide helpful ways to set up the environment with visuals and other strategies to encourage engagement in these essential safety and self-care skills. 

Additional sessions in this series:

  1. Fostering Safe Social Connections During COVID-19 with Carly Eby & Michau van Speyk
  2. Creating Structure and Stability in the Home with Dawn Marciello & Joan Broto
  3. Ways to Play: Ideas to create activities for kids with Harley Lang

Speaker: Janice Theodoropoulo, BCBA

Janice Theodoropoulos

Janice Theodoropoulos is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Clinical Supervisor at Woodview Mental Health and Autism Services. She has worked servicing families and persons diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for the better part of a decade with a focus on early intervention, caregiver coaching, and community education. She has a passion for working with children, youth, and their families to increase skills and independence. Her clinical focus is using evidence based practices and the science of Applied Behaviour Analysis to provide effective skill acquisition and behaviour reduction programming to clients diagnosed with ASD through direct work with staff as well caregivers and community partners.

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