Questions and Answers: Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

My child is ready to start school in the publicly funded school system. What can I expect?

As part of a team, teachers, other educators and community agencies will work with you to plan for your child's successful transition into school.

They will also develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for your child. The IEP outlines the programs and services, including ABA (applied behaviour analysis) methods if appropriate, to help your child reach his or her full potential. Principals will ensure that the plan is developed for your child within 30 school days of starting school.

The Ministry of Education resource, Planning Entry to School, has more information about starting school.

If your child is receiving IBI (intensive behavioural intervention) services through the Autism Intervention Program (AIP) (funded by Ministry of Children and Youth Services), ask your child's AIP provider about the Connections for Students model. (Please see question below about Connections for Students for more information).

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What is an Individual Education Plan? Will my child have one?

Yes, teachers and other educators will work with you and community agencies to develop an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for your child. An IEP is a written plan that describes the special education program and/or services needed by your child. It will be updated periodically. Principals must ensure that you are involved in the development and review of your child's IEP.

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My child is transitioning from IBI to school. What should I expect?

As of spring 2010, all school boards will implement the Connections for Students model. This will help your child move from IBI services delivered through the Autism Intervention Plan to ABA instructional methods in a publicly funded school.

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What is the difference between applied behaviour analysis (ABA) and intensive behavioural intervention (IBI)?

ABA (applied behaviour analysis) is a teaching method used by educators for children with autism, while IBI (intensive behavioural intervention) is a therapeutic approach delivered by a qualified therapist.

School boards must deliver programs using ABA instructional methods for students with autism, where appropriate. ABA is effective for understanding and changing behaviour and teaching new skills.

IBI is an intensive application of ABA delivered by a qualified therapist, typically involving between 20 and 40 hours of therapy per week.

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What is Connections for Students and how can it help my child?

If your child is school-aged, Connections for Students can help your child move from IBI therapy services delivered through the Autism Intervention Program to ABA instructional methods in a publicly funded school.

About six months before your child is ready to move from the Autism Intervention Program to a publicly funded school, a team will be created to help you and your child prepare for this transition

This team will involve you, school staff and community agencies. You will work together to develop a transition plan tailored to your child's needs. The team will also provide support for at least six months after your child starts school.

All school boards are expected to implement the Connections for Students transition teams no later than spring 2010.

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Who makes decisions about the education my child receives?

Teachers and other educators work with community agencies to develop your child's Individual Education Plan including whether programs using ABA methods are appropriate. You have valuable information that you can share about your child. They will also consult with you to ensure your child receives the best education possible. Your child's principal is responsible for approving the plan.

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What does school staff know about autism and applied behaviour analysis (ABA)?

The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Children and Youth Services have been working together to provide supportive environments for students with autism and their families. This includes building capacity in schools to help improve the learning environment for these students.

Since 2006, more than 13,000 educators, including school principals, teachers, teachers' assistants, and other educators, have received training to support ABA instructional methods in the publicly funded school system.

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What support is available for classroom teachers?

School boards are hiring ABA expertise to support principals, teachers and transition teams. They provide training and resources to educators and help service providers and schools work together.

The ministry also has a resource guide for teachers called Effective Educational Practices for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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Who do I contact if I have questions about my child's education or services and supports for my child?

Your child's teacher has the most information about your child's education.  You may also speak with the principal of your child's school. The principal can also help guide you to other school board resources.

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services website also has valuable information about programs and services for children with autism.

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How will my child be prepared when it is time to move to a new classroom, or grade, or school?

Planning for changes is part of your child's Individual Education Plan. You, along with educators and relevant community agencies are involved in the planning for transitions.

These transitions may include: 

  • entering school
  • changing between activities and settings or classrooms
  • transitioning between grades
  • moving from school to school or from an agency to a school
  • moving from elementary to secondary school
  • transitioning from secondary school to postsecondary destinations and/or the workplace.