Q: I believe my child may be on the autism spectrum. How can I get a diagnosis?
A: In Ontario, a formal diagnosis can be obtained from your family pediatrician or from a behavioural psychologist specializing in child development. AIM’s clinical supervising psychologist, Dr. James Porter, can provide a formal diagnosis. There is a fee associated with this service.
Q: What happens after my child is diagnosed as having autism?
A: After diagnosis, secure funding for autism therapy (more on this below) and seek out a service provider as soon as possible.
It’s important that children with autism receive treatment early. At the same time, when choosing a service provider, look for one that you and your child can rely on for many years. Your child’s treatment will be a lifelong commitment.
If you live in York Region, register for Early Intervention (EI) Services. These services are available until your child transitions to school (Junior Kindergarten) and are free of charge.
EI services are provided by government. AIM works collaboratively with EIs to help children transition to school. AIM also participates in school meetings to support families during their transition period.
Q: What are the funding options for autism treatment?
A: Funding options for autism treatment are dependent on a family’s income. Sources of funding include Kinark (York Region), TPAS (Toronto). You can also apply for free or subsidized autism services offered by public agencies and charities, including AIM, Surrey Place, Autism Ontario, and Kinark.
Q: What types of treatment or therapy are available in Ontario for children with autism?
A: Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) therapy, together, are the primary forms of treatment.
Behavior analysis focuses on the principles of learning. ABA is the use of techniques and principles derived from behavioural analysis, to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior. (Adapted from Autism Speaks). IBI is the application of ABA principles in an intensive learning setting. Led by IBI professionals, children with autism work one-on-one or in small group settings.
Speech therapy, occupational therapy and sensory integration therapy may also be recommended.
Q: How are AIM’s services similar or different to those of other service providers?
A: AIM is very flexible with families in accommodating what each child needs and individualizes treatment based on the circumstances of the child and family.
We offer ABA/IBI one-to-one therapy, a School Readiness program, a Saturday Social Skills program, ABA tutoring, respite services, PA day programs and camps.
Q: How old must my child be to receive AIM services?
A: All of our main programs target children ages 2 ½ to 10. We focus on early intervention. However, we have opened a new ABA tutoring program for high school children, at the request of families.
Q: How can I access AIM services?
A: Please register online and book an appointment for a free consultation to determine which service is suitable for your child.
Q: Do you accept everyone who applies? What are the chances my child will be accepted?
A: All children with autism are eligible to apply for our programs. Our subsidized programs are available on a first come, first served basis and subject to funding availability. AIM’s ABA/IBI subsidized program gives priority to families with a household gross income of $75K or less.
Q: Do you have a wait list? How long will it take for my child to be admitted to AIM?
A: Self-funded option generally have a wait time from 1 month or more. Subsidized ABA/IBI is subject to funding availability, and there are waitlists for the subsidy program. The Saturday Social Skills program wait list varies from 3 months or more, and we give priority to children who are already receiving ABA/IBI therapy services from AIM.
Q: How is AIM funded?
A: AIM generates funding from corporate and private donations, and through fundraising events throughout the year. Our annual Toonie 4 Autism, Gala and Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon are our major fundraising events.
Q: If AIM relies on donors, how can I be sure my child’s treatment will not be interrupted if your funding falls short?
A: Once a child is registered in our subsidized ABA/IBI program, the services are guaranteed for the duration of the service agreement, which is typically 6 months. In our 8 years of operating, we have never had to end an agreement due to lack of funding.
Q. Why are service agreements set for 6 months if my child will need long-term therapy?
A: Service agreements are typically renewed at the close of each period. It’s an opportunity to re-assess a child’s needs periodically and set new goals and treatment plans.
Q: Am I expected to fundraise for AIM?
A: We encourage all families to participate in our fundraising efforts. However, we do understand the possible limitations some families may face.
Q: What are the prospects for children with autism who receive treatment through your facility? What outcomes can I expect for my child?
A: Long-term outcomes depend on a child’s diagnosis and their starting place, or their baseline level of ability when they enter treatment. Each child’s needs and abilities are unique. We work with families to set realistic goals, and we put in place a treatment plan to successfully meet those objectives.
Q: Is there a limit to how long my child can receive autism treatment services through AIM?
A: There is no set duration for services. As one service agreement comes to a close, we renew based on targets and goals. Most of our group programs are designed for children under age 10.
Q: What if my child is already receiving autism treatment services elsewhere? Will my child still be eligible for AIM’s services?
A: We do not restrict families’ engagement with other providers. However, it usually is in the child’s best interest to centralize services, to ensure continuity and consistency.
Q: How do your professional staff compare to those at private centres for autism treatment?
A: Our staff are all certified and professionally trained, just as you would expect at larger private centres. We have a full-time Board Certified Behavioural Analyst (BCBA) as senior therapist. Our ABA/IBI programs are clinically supervised by Dr. James Porter, who is a provincially-renowned child psychologist in the autism field.
Q. How much ABA/IBI therapy will my child need?
A: Every child is unique, but the research points towards a minimum of 25 hours of IBI per week. Long-term studies show that children who averaged 40 hours of therapy per week, for at least 2 years, achieved the best outcomes. At AIM, we help families choose the right therapy schedule. We also encourage parents to incorporate ABA into their family’s lifestyle by learning the principles and applying them at home. Doing so reinforces the benefits of therapy received at our centre.