New autism supports for Ontario schools to come due to therapy funding changes

OTTAWA – Ontario has announced new supports for children with autism in schools, after parents raised concerns about kids entering school for the first time because they will get less funding for therapy.

The government is aiming to clear a wait list of 23,000 kids by spreading an existing pot of money to all children diagnosed with autism, instead of fully funding the treatment.

Families will get up to $20,000 per year for treatment for children under six and $5,000 a year for children six to 18, but intensive therapy can cost up to $80,000 a year.

More than 8,000 children are currently in government-funded therapy and many families say they won't be able to cover the cost of keeping their kids in full-time, or even part-time, treatment programs, meaning they will have to enter school.

Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced in Ottawa today that school boards will get an average of $12,300 for each new student with autism spectrum disorder and the government will fully subsidize an autism spectrum disorder qualification course for teachers.

She also says an after-school skills development pilot project for students with autism will be expanded to all 72 school boards.