Autism Spectrum Disorder Programs and Resources - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I think my child may have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). What should I do?
  2. My child has been diagnosed with ASD.  What comes next?
  3. What services are designed for PRESCHOOL children with ASD?
  4. What is the Relate program?
  5. Do I have to pay for my child to participate in any of the programs described in this FAQ?
  6. Is there employment skills programming available specifically for youth and young adults with ASD?
  7. What programs and supports are available for children with any disability (including ASD)?
  8. What is Children’s disABILITY Services?
  9. What is the Inclusion Support program?
  10. What are School Based Supports?
  11. What is the Children’s Therapy Initiative?
  12. What if I have still have questions?

I think my child may have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). What should I do?

Talk to your family doctor about your concerns. Your doctor can make a referral to a health professional who specializes in diagnosing ASD. The Child Development Clinic or your regional health authority can assist you.

The Child Development Clinic (CDC) provides assessment and referral support for preschool aged children who have a developmental, behavior or physical disability.  The CDC is located in Winnipeg’s Children’s Hospital at the Health Sciences Centre. Your doctor or pediatrician may refer your child to this clinic to have your child’s assessment completed.  Your child’s therapy provider or the Children’s disABILITY Services office in your community can also provide assistance if you have questions about obtaining a referral.

The CDC offers rural clinics in Brandon, Dauphin, Morden and The Pas. A referral from your family doctor or nurse practitioner can be made to the Winnipeg CDC address, or to your regional health authority.

If the CDC diagnoses your child with ASD, your family will be provided with information about ASD. You may also be offered supportive counselling. You will be given strategies to address your child’s functional abilities (social or communication skills, sleep, feeding; etc.). You will be linked with community services and resources that can be helpful for you and your child. 

For additional information please contact the Child Development Clinic at 204-787-2423.

Not all children with ASD are diagnosed during their preschool years.  If you have concerns about your school aged child’s development, either from your own observations or from others (such as family members, friends or staff at your child care centre or school) your first step would be to contact your child’s physician or pediatrician.

For school aged children, all regional health authorities operate a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Program.  This program can refer you to various mental health services, some of which assess and diagnose children and adolescents with ASD.

Contact your regional health authority (RHA) to get information on the intake process and services available (to find your RHA, go to: http://www.gov.mb.ca/health/rha/contact.html).

My child has been diagnosed with ASD. What comes next?

Many community resources and programs exist to offer you support. Some are available for children with any disability (including ASD), while others are exclusively designed for children with ASD.

Accessing information on ASD and the supports and intervention options available is important.  Speak to a professional and to other parents of children with ASD in order to learn more.

There are many helpful resources available to you:

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What services are designed for PRESCHOOL children with ASD?

What is Autism Outreach?

Autism Outreach (also referred to as Autism Early Intervention in rural regions) focuses on building your child’s skills through play and building relationships with caregivers to enhance your child’s development. Consultation and training is provided to parents and caregivers to help them support their child with ASD in a way that meets the unique needs of the child and the family.

Your child will be assessed to determine his or her individual needs.  Then a customized program will be designed for your child.

Autism Outreach works with you to design your child’s individual program.  This means that staff will work with your family to achieve the goals and priorities you have for your child.

How is Autism Outreach delivered?

Your family will be assigned an Autism Specialist. The specialist will visit your home to assess your child’s needs, train caregivers (family and child care staff), provide an individualized program and participate in your child’s school entry process.

Autism Outreach is delivered by Autism Specialists in cooperation with Child Development Counsellors/Workers.  Autism Outreach will also collaborate closely on your family’s goals with other professionals involved with your child, such as occupational therapists and speech language pathologists.

Autism Outreach staff are available to participate in your child’s school intake meeting and can provide follow-up consultation to your child’s school team during his/her first year in school.

As parents, what commitment must we make in order to participate in Autism Outreach?

Parents and caregivers must commit to follow through on the agreed interventions.  This is important because family involvement is the key to success.  Autism Outreach assists parents to become experts in understanding their child’s unique strengths and needs.  This enables parents to provide leadership to their child’s caregivers, with support from Autism Outreach.

My child attends a child care centre.  Will Autism Outreach train the staff at my child care centre?

Yes, staff will visit your child care centre to assist early education staff to adapt your child’s program.  This will create an effective learning environment that engages your child.  It will also address his or her ASD-related behaviors so that these behaviors do not prevent your child from fully participating in your child care centre’s program.

Child care centres that are funded by Manitoba Early Learning and Child Care may apply to the Inclusion Support Program for assistance in meeting your child’s needs.  (For more information, please go to Inclusion Support Program).

How can Autism Outreach help my child?

Autism Outreach will work on the following skills with your child:

  • Social skills
  • Communication
  • Self-help skills

How does AUTISM OUTREACH assist my child to develop these skills?

Autism Outreach uses evidence-based interventions that have been scientifically studied and assessed as effective.  These may include:

  • Naturalistic Teaching Strategies
  • Schedules
  • Visual Supports
  • Picture Exchange Communication System
  • Reciprocal-imitation training
  • DIR Floortime

How often will my child and I see our Autism Outreach worker?

The location and frequency of visits will be agreed upon between the family and the Autism Specialist at the first meeting and can later be increased or decreased. 

You will receive a number of visits from your Autism Specialist as discussed in your initial visit.  Typically, the Autism Specialist will be involved more frequently in the first 3 to 4 months with some follow-up visits until your child enters school.  This will be followed by regular visits from a Child Development Worker.

Autism Outreach staff will follow up, as needed, until your child enters kindergarten. This follow up may be done in-person and/or via a review of video recordings of your child.  Follow-up consultation to your child’s school team during his/her first year in school may be available on request.

Why is Autism Outreach/Autism Early Intervention different across communities in Manitoba?

Autism Outreach/Autism Early Intervention Services strive to provide individualized services to each child based on their unique strengths and needs. Also, each community across Manitoba is unique in terms of resources and services. Therefore, Autism Outreach/Autism Early Intervention Services may look different based on many factors across each region in the province.

Where can I get more information on Autism Outreach and how to enroll my child?

For more information on Autism Outreach services in Winnipeg, please call 205-945-0354.  In rural Manitoba, please contact your local Family Services office, which are listed at: gov.mb.ca/fs/cds.

 

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What are the St.Amant Autism programs?

The St.Amant Autism Programs use principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) to teach socially significant behaviours. St.Amant Autism Programs offers a variety of different services, including:

  • The Parent Support Model
  • The Early Learning Program
  • The School Age Learning Program, and
  • Consultative Classroom Supports

What does “Applied Behaviour Analysis” (ABA) mean?

The St.Amant Autism Programs uses behavioural and learning principles to teach a variety of important skills. This is done by first assessing your child’s strengths and needs. Skills being taught are then broken down into small manageable steps using teaching strategies that are tailored for each child.

St.Amant Autism Programs work with your child and family to define goals that increase skills toward independence and a greater quality of life.  The programs can also help to decrease challenging behaviours. With support from their St.Amant team, parents are asked to commit to following through on the agreed upon goals. Family involvement is the key to success.  

What skills will the team from St.Amant target?

St.Amant Autism Programs focus on a variety of important skills across all areas of development. Some examples include:

  • Communication skills
  • Play skills
  • Social skills
  • Academic and pre-academic skills
  • Daily living skills (e.g., toileting, dressing, following routines)
  • Decreasing challenging behaviours that may be interfering with learning

How can the Early Learning Program help my child to develop these skills?

The St.Amant Autism Programs use behavioural teaching strategies that include but are not limited to:

  • Environmental modifications
  • Positive reinforcement (e.g., praise, toys, tokens)
  • Discrete trials teaching
  • Incidental teaching
  • Shaping, prompting, and fading
  • Visual supports (e.g., schedules)
  • Social stories
  • Video modeling

What is the St.Amant Autism Early Learning Program?

The St.Amant Autism Early Learning Program is an intensive program that offers assessments, one-on-one teaching sessions, regular team clinic meetings and parent-led teaching. Each child and family is assigned a team that includes an Autism Consultant, Autism Senior Tutor and Autism Tutor. Programming is individualized for each child and family. Teaching sessions can be conducted in the child’s home or in a child care facility.

Through the program, children receive an intensive intervention for up to two years or until they reach school eligibility (i.e., the September of the year they turn 5). An additional year of less intensive programming can be provided if a child is not yet eligible for school. The program is provided throughout the province and is available in French on request. 

What resources will my child have access to in the St.Amant Autism Programs?

Children in the Early Learning Program remain eligible for Speech Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. An Autism Consultant will work in collaboration with your child’s therapy professionals to develop the intervention. Children will also have access to supports through Children’s disABILITY Services.

Who is eligible for the St.Amant Autism Early Learning program?

Children who:

  • Are less than five years of age (upon acceptance into the program),
  • Have a diagnosis of ASD, and
  • Are a Manitoba resident

What is the St.Amant Autism School Age Learning program?

When your child transitions from Early Learning to school, this program will provide one year of support in school and may provide some consultation in the home to assist with the transition to school-based supports.

St.Amant clinical staff will also work with school teams to build capacity and help your child achieve the goals set out in your child’s Individual Education Plan.

Who is eligible for the St.Amant Autism School Age Learning program?

To be eligible, a child must be a Manitoba resident and must have participated in the St.Amant Autism Early Learning Program (or an equivalent early intensive behavioural intervention program) before they enter school.

What is the St.Amant Classroom Consultative Support Service?

This service provides consultative supports to school teams after a child exits the School- Age Learning Program, focused on helping school teams work on challenging behaviours and social skills with your child. Services are provided upon referral from school teams and are prioritized based on need.

Children are eligible to receive this service up to high school graduation or age 21.

Where can I get more information on the St.Amant Autism Programs and how to enroll my child?

For more information on St.Amant Autism Programs, please call Central Intake at 204-256-4301 ext. 7041 or visit the St.Amant website at: stamant.ca/programs/autism-services.

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Can I apply for both the Autism Outreach program and the St.Amant Autism Early Learning program?

Yes, you can apply for both the Autism Outreach and the St.Amant Autism Early Learning Program.  However, your family will choose to access one of the two service options.

You do not have to choose which program to enter until one of these programs contacts you to offer your child a spot.  At that time, you may either choose to accept the offer or continue to wait for the other program.

What is the Parent Support Model service?

Families on the waitlist for the St.Amant Autism Early Learning Program can access the Parent Support Model service offered at St.Amant. Families who are also on the waitlist for Autism Outreach services may participate in the Parent Support Model and later decide to pursue Autism Outreach.

This service provides parents with education, a brief assessment of their child’s strengths and needs, training and consultative supports. It enables your family to start working with your child within a few months of receiving a diagnosis.

To participate in the Parent Support Model, parents must commit to spending 10 hours per week teaching their child on the goals agreed upon with their St.Amant team.

Upon entry to the Parent Support Model, brief assessments of your child’s skills will be conducted and your family will participate in an individual planning session to review the goals and areas that your team will help your family focus on. Every month, your family will attend a 2-hour team clinic meeting at St.Amant with your Autism Consultant and Autism Senior Tutor to help support your family and your child with the goals and priority areas identified. For rural families, the frequency and duration of visits may need to be adapted depending on travel time.

Your family may be invited to participate in workshops that are offered free of charge at St.Amant to help you understand some key teaching strategies.

What kind of training do parents attend in the parent support model?

The “Triple P Group Stepping Stones” series consists of five parent training sessions that are delivered over the course of five weeks. At least one parent from each family accessing the Parent Support Model must attend each 3-hour session.

This training teaches parents different ways they can:

  • Address various childhood developmental and behavioural issues
  • Create a safe, engaging environment that encourages positive learning
  • Teach their child new skills and behaviours
  • Manage challenging behaviours
  • Encourage positive behaviour
  • Have realistic expectations
  • Engage in self-care practices for parents

Are there workshops I can attend to learn more about how I can support my child?

Yes, there are three workshops that are offered regularly through St.Amant Autism Programs:

“Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder and Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA)”

“Introduction to Challenging Behaviours”

“Teaching Strategies for Children with ASD”

Other workshops on topics such as feeding issues, social skills, and other important skills will also be offered free of charge. These workshops are provided during the daytime and in the evening to allow families to attend when it best suits their schedules.

For information on attending a workshop please call St.Amant Central Intake at 204-256-4301 ext. 7041

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What is the Relate program?

The Relate Program offers parents educational sessions on how they can improve interaction and communication with their child.  It is based on the Relationship Development Interventions (RDI) approach.  This approach is based on the belief that healthy relationships with caregivers are vital to helping children with autism to progress developmentally.

This program is not specifically for families with children with ASD, but serves families who have a child whose developmental disability (including ASD) limits their ability to speak or communicate functionally.

The Relate Program is offered at the Rehabilitation Centre for Children, in Winnipeg.  For more information, call 204-452-4311 or visit the Rehabilitation Centre for Children website at rccinc.ca.

Do I have to pay for my child to participate in any of the programs described in this FAQ?

No, all of these programs are provided free of cost. 

If your child is enrolled in Autism Outreach or the St.Amant Autism Early Learning Program, your family will be asked to provide your child with supplies to support their programming.

Is there employment skills programming available specifically for youth and young adults with ASD?

Building Independence is a pilot project aimed at supporting youth and young adults with ASD to develop appropriate work behaviours, increase their independence and prepare for the future.  The pilot is intended for individuals with ASD between the ages of 16 to 25 who are able to commit to attend scheduled training sessions, and are willing to complete pre and post-evaluation measures as part of the pilot project process.

You can access centralized intake through St.Amant.  This includes a phone call followed by a formal interview.  Successful applicants will then be contacted by Pre-Employment Prep program facilitators.  Once participants have gone through the screening process with St.Amant, program facilitators will work with them to plan 11 blocks of training at 2 1⁄2 hours per block. Training can take place on weekday afternoons or evenings, once or twice a week depending on group consensus. The Pre-Employment Prep program is offered in both the Winnipeg and Steinbach regions.

For more information, please visit the Building Independence website at buildingindependence.ca.  If you are interested in applying, contact St.Amant Central Intake at 204-256-4301 extension 7041.

What programs and supports are available for children with any disability (including ASD)?

  • Children’s disABILITYServices
  • Child Care Inclusion Support Program
  • School Based Supports
  • Children’s Therapy Initiative

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What is Children’s disABILITY Services?

Children’s disABILITY Services is a program that provides a range of supports and services for families who are raising a child with one or more developmental or physical disabilities. 

Who is eligible for Children’s disABILITY Services?

To be eligible, a child must be 17 years of age or younger, living with his or her birth, extended or adoptive family in Manitoba and have a diagnosis of one of the following:

  • A mental disability
  • A developmental delay
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • A lifelong, physical disability that results in significant limitations in mobility
  • A high probability of developmental delay due to a pre-existing condition

What services and supports are available through Children’s disABILITY Services?

Respite
Respite can be provided in or outside of the child’s home for caregivers who may need a short-term break from care giving. If your child has lifelong, complex medical needs then a registered nurse or a specially trained care provider can provide respite.

Child Development Program for Pre-school Children
Child Development Workers work with caregivers to identify their child’s strengths and goals. Together they find ways to assist the child to develop and learn new skills. Services may be provided in the child’s home or a child care setting.

Supplies, Equipment and Home/Vehicle Modifications
Children’s disABILITY Services may cover the cost of certain supplies and equipment that are necessary as a result of a child’s disability, or for making modifications to a family’s home or vehicle at a basic level.  For more information visit the Disability Health Supports Unit website at: http://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/dhsu

Transportation
Assistance may be available for families who need financial support to cover the cost of transportation to and from medical appointments and specialized services related to their child’s disability. These supports are mainly provided to families in rural and northern Manitoba.

Therapy
Therapies that may be available include: occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and audiology. These services can be accessed through your regional Children’s Therapy Initiative and may be provided in the family home, a childcare setting or at school.  For more information please visit sscy.ca/childrens-therapy-initiative

After School Care for Adolescents
After school care may be provided for adolescents who are no longer able to access child care but still require care and supervision outside of school hours.

Summer Skills Programming
Children’s disABILITY Services can help school-age children maintain their skills during the summer months. This is done by providing supports children need to access programs and activities that promote what they have learned during the school year.

Behavioural Services
Behavioural specialists may assess a child’s challenging behaviours and, together with the family, develop a plan that addresses the child’s needs.

Is there a limit to Children’s disABILITY Services supports?

The amount of service a family receives depends on eligibility, the level of need assessed by the program, and the program resources available.


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What is the Inclusion Support program?

The Inclusion Support Program provides grants to licensed child care providers so that, with additional support, a child can fully participate in a licenced, not for profit, early learning and child care program.

If you are planning to enroll your child in a licenced child care centre, please speak with the child care provider about your child’s needs.

What are School Based Supports?

All children with ASD are unique. As learners, each student with ASD will have areas of strength and challenges, as well as individual interests and preferences. Programming for students with ASD may include the provincial curricula or it could include highly individualized programming. The supports and services provided will depend on a child’s need.

How can I plan for my child to begin school?

Starting school is an important event in the life of a young child. A carefully planned transition to school can help facilitate a successful entry into the school system. Often this planning process begins with a meeting between the family, the school team, and preschool and/or sending agency personnel.

Transition planning should begin one year prior to school entry to ensure there is enough time for assessment, information sharing and planning. Receiving information as early as possible helps schools and school divisions put plans in place to support children as they enter school.  A transition planning protocol document is available on the Healthy Child Manitoba website at Publications and Resources to help families and service providers make your child’s transition to school as successful as possible.

What does an in-school team consider when planning for students with ASD?

The primary goal of the planning team is to work together to develop appropriate educational programming that allows the student with ASD to participate as fully as possible in the life of the school, family, and community.

Parents, with their knowledge of the student, are valued members of the in-school team. Parents can help the school staff understand their child’s strengths, abilities, needs and challenges.

Team members may have specific roles and responsibilities which include gathering and sharing information, determining what is known about the student and what needs to be known, identifying priority learning needs, and developing and implementing programming for the student.

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) is an annual plan that will document the planning and strategies in place that will help the student learn and progress towards achievable outcomes beyond their current level of performance.

Who are the professional school team members that may be involved with my child at school?

School divisions have staff knowledgeable about programming for students with autism and the supports and services available that can help address their needs. School divisions employ professionals such as psychologists, speech language pathologists and occupational therapists who may help with programming for your child’s unique needs in a school setting.

A Speech Language Pathologist can be a crucial member of the team involved in planning and programming for the language needs of students with ASD. Speech language pathologists typically provide student-specific assessments, recommendations for programming and access and support with assistive technology such as Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices for students with ASD.

What support and professional development is available to school teams planning for my child?

While your child is in school, school staff can access expertise and professional learning opportunities related to planning and programming for students with ASD, provided by Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning.

  • Consulting teachers from Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre (MATC) Neurodevelopmental Services provide educators across the province with consultative support in programming for children with ASD and complex multi-diagnostic issues. Schools request this service through MATC centralized intake. MATC also offers annual professional development seminars on topics that address a wide range of needs of students with ASD.
  • When requested by the school division, consultants from the Student Services Unit of Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning may provide direct support and professional learning opportunities for school teams programming for students with exceptional learning needs including ASD.
  • As of January 2016, children who were involved with the St.Amant Autism Programs are eligible to access referral-based consultative services in school until graduation or the age of 21. Annually, the St.Amant Autism Programs offer a variety of workshops and training opportunities for families and school staff.

Consultative and professional development supports will help school staff to work with your child in ways that encourage his or her developmental progress.


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What is the Children’s Therapy Initiative?

This program facilitates collaboration between families, Regional Health Authorities, school divisions and service agencies to support the delivery of:

  • Audiology services
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Speech-language therapy

 

For more information on these services, for your regional central intake contact information, or to access the Provincial Referral Form, please visit sscy.ca/childrens-therapy-initiative.

What if I have still have questions?

You are always welcome to call your local Manitoba Family Services office. We want to assist you in any way that we can.

To find the telephone number of the office in your family’s area, go to: gov.mb.ca/fs/cds/index.html

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