Apr 15, 2024

How to choose the right Autism service provider for your child

You’ve just received an autism diagnosis. Now what?  


All funded programs in Ontario require an official diagnosis before providing services, although it may not be needed for non-funded programs. Make sure you register for the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) to get on the waiting list for funding and access to funded programs for your child.  


Navigating different program options

While you know your child best, you don't need to be an expert in autism programming. Deciding on the best programs should be a collaborative effort between you and your service provider, guided by your family's goals and priorities. A good provider will help you navigate your options. 


How will a service provider guide my decision? 

  • Assessment of Your Child: They will perform a thorough evaluation of your child's strengths, needs, interests and learning barriers. Autism is a spectrum, so personalized solutions are essential. 
  • Understanding Family Goals: They will consider your family's goals for your child to create a tailored treatment plan. 
  • Reviewing Funding Models and Payment Options:  They will discuss various program options including funding models that suit your family’s needs.  These could include fully funded programs, services covered by OAP or other available funds, subsidized or partially funded programs, and programs and services paid for out of pocket. Remember, you are not alone. Before enrolling your child in any program, consult a qualified professional to discuss your specific needs and goals. At GCA, our ​​personalized intake process ensures each child is placed in the program that best meets their and their family's needs. 


6 key questions to ask potential service providers

When seeking the best provider for your child, treat the process like an interview. Here are six key questions to ask any provider of clinical autism services. Their answers will reveal how the organization is run and how collaborative the team is with parents. 


  1. Do you collaborate with other providers? 

    Families often work with multiple health professionals. For example, a child with autism might see a speech-language pathologist due to speech delays. Ensure the provider is open to collaborating and communicating with other professionals supporting your child and family. 

  2. How often is progress evaluated? 

    Evaluating progress with evidence-based methods is essential in autism services. Ask potential providers how frequently they assess your child's progress to ensure timely adjustments if needed. Regular progress reports should also be a standard part of their care. 

  3. Is the program overseen by a Registered Behaviour Analyst (in Ontario), and how often? 

    Programming often involves staff with various training backgrounds, but a Registered Behaviour Analyst should oversee clinical programs like ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) and IBI. Their involvement varies based on the program and the child. However, note that services like Occupational Therapy, respite and recreation programs typically don't require a Registered Behaviour Analyst. 

  4. What exactly is included in the cost of a program? 

    Service providers should clearly outline the program costs and any additional expenses, such as fees for reports or travel time.  Always request detailed information on what is included in their services. 

  5. How accessible is the staff working with my child? 

    Open communication with those who interact with your child is crucial. Ensure the staff is accessible for feedback and support, helping you navigate beyond the clinical setting. You should be able to ask questions openly, speak to a supervisor when needed, and schedule a meeting in a timely manner. 

  6. Can I take a tour of the facility? 

    Touring the facility is vital. It provides insight into the environment and your child's experience there.  


We’re Here to Help

Being well-informed is the first step toward taking positive action for your child and your family. At the Geneva Centre for Autism, we’re here to help. We provide state-of-the-art clinical services for families in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), ensuring you have the knowledge and support you need to navigate this journey with confidence and care.  


Speak to our friendly staff