TORONTO - The Ontario government is providing $7.5 million to help educators better support children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The funding will be used to deliver online courses and training opportunities for teachers and educational assistants in all 72 of Ontario's district school boards. The training program will be delivered by the Geneva Centre for Autism.
The training provided through the Geneva Centre for Autism will increase the understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) methods and approaches amongst educators. As students on the autism spectrum may have complex needs, this specialized training will help educators to support the educational, social, communication, and behavioural outcomes of those students. The training program will begin in 2021.
"The Sonderly autism training program, allows educators to apply evidence-based techniques to classroom settings, helping students with autism to succeed in their academic year," said Andrew Davis, Director - Sonderly, Geneva Centre for Autism.
"Our government is building a brand new Ontario Autism Program that offers a range of services aligned and coordinated with our education and health systems," said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. "The Geneva Centre for Autism will assist educators in better understanding and responding to the individual needs of children and youth on the autism spectrum."
Since 2005, Ontario has invested in Geneva Centre for Autism to implement a wide range of programs and training opportunities for educators. This includes training school board staff and schools teams to support implementation of ABA-based methods in classrooms and training over 10,000 Educational Assistants.
In addition to online training, Ontario is investing in subsidies for educators to take the ASD-specific Additional Qualification course, and funding to build the capacity of school leaders to support students on the autism spectrum. In 2019-20, the Ontario government significantly increased investments to support students with ASD, with funding in 2020-21 directed towards increasing behaviour expertise and student supports in schools; funding to promote professional learning for educators; and funding to support after-school skills development programs.
Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, was joined on Friday by Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Amy Fee, MPP for Kitchener South-Hespeler and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services (Children and Autism), Jeremy Roberts, MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean and Parliamentary Assistant for the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services (Community and Social Services) and Robin Martin, MPP for Eglinton Lawrence and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health to virtually share this news with the Geneva Centre.
- More than 24,700 students identified as being on the autism spectrum are currently enrolled in the publicly funded school system, as reported by school boards in 2018-2019.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder is the fastest growing exceptionality in Ontario’s publicly funded school system, growing by 111 per cent over the past decade.
- ABA therapy helps people on the autism spectrum develop new life skills, communications skills and social skills.
- In 2020-21, the ministry is providing approximately $31.1 million in funding to school boards for the Behaviour Expertise Amount. This provides funding to hire professional staff at the board level who have expertise in ABA, as well as offer training opportunities to build school board capacity in ABA.