Toronto

Ontario autism program enrolls 30 kids since April, aims to reach 8,000 before winter

Ontario has enrolled 888 children with autism in core therapies, an addition of just 30 since April. But the government insists it will meet its goal of enrolling 8,000 kids by the end of the fall.

Ontario Autism Coalition says government’s history with program explains lower-than-expected uptake

Angela Brandt is president of the Ontario Autism Coalition. She was at Queen's Park in early June, where she spoke about how many families supporting children with autism have faced long wait times for funding and therapy. (Submitted by Angela Brandt)

Ontario has enrolled 888 children with autism in core therapies, an addition of just 30 since April. But the government insists it will meet its goal of enrolling 8,000 kids by the end of the fall.

Government officials say a new intake process has slowed registrations, but now that it is up and running, they believe those numbers will start to grow exponentially.

But they admit to being puzzled by a relatively low response rate to letters sent to families inviting them to register with the independent intake organization, the first step in the new process for children to get government-funded therapy.

Ontario Autism Coalition president Angela Brandt says the government just has to look at its history with the autism program to explain the lower-than-expected uptake.

She says parents have lost trust after waiting for a program first promised in early 2019.

Government officials concede that some children who have been waiting since 2015, or possibly longer, may not even need the therapy anymore.

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