Quest for Autism Services
If your child is under the age of 6, you will want to look for Early Intervention Services. Try using those words and then your city/community name after it on Google to locate these services in your area.
Many communities also have a local autism society. These are often parent-run organizations and a good place to start to find information. Consider joining a support group because this is where you’ll meet other parents who have already accessed services. Parents can often be your best source on where to find services.
If you area does not have an autism society or support group, consider contacting the Canadian Association for Community Living. They have over 400 associations across Canada. If living in a rural community, contact your local hospital or health clinic. They will often have information on community services.
Don’t forget to apply for the Disability Tax Credit. Many families don’t know about this federal tax credit that is retroactive from birth.
The School Years
The education system can be a complex maze to navigate. Each school board within a province can have different services, programs and supports. School boards will have a Student Support Services or Special Education department. This can be a good place to start on finding out what a board offers and which schools have an appropriate program for your child. Visit the board’s website to see what they offer. Many schools also have websites, although I don’t find these too informative because many are run by students or are not updated regularly.
The classroom teacher will also know about appropriate supports as will the school administrative team. If your child is already in a school and you have questions about supports, ask both of these teams for information on educational assistant support, assessments, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy or behavior support.
Looking for ideas on community inclusion? Think about contacting your local YMCA or recreation centre. If your child cannot follow group instruction, private instructors are often available for a nominal fee. We had to do this for both of our children with swimming lessons as group instruction was just too fast paced. Or consider Special Olympics which has chapters all over the country.
Investigate the offerings at your local autism society or the Association for Community Living as they often have family social events. Check out the library. We have enrolled our children in excellent free programs over the years.
For government supports and programs, visit your provincial website and look for Persons With Disabilities. This department will also deal with human rights, fair treatment, financial aid and job access.
Mental Health Issues
People with ASD often experience mental health issues. This can range from anxiety, depression, biopolar disorder, mood disorders, or obsessive compulsive disorder to name a few. Some medical professionals will say this is part of an autism disorder, but mental health issues often have to be addressed for the best outcome for that person. Consider contacting the Canadian Mental Health Association for information, your local health clinic which often has mental health services, or a hospital’s Mental Health Services department. Provincial Health Regions will also have a Mental Health Services department. Health regions can be found on provincial government websites under Health.
For more information on mental health aspects and autism, have a look at the book Mental Health Aspects of Autism and Asperger Syndrome.
Visit our website’s Help/Resources section which has a map that goes by country and also has specific links on topics below.
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