What’s next for my child?


By Camiella Hay

Our children are impacted by ASD as much as any other population, and are diagnosed less frequently, on average. This is a scary notion as we fight inequality in other areas; we are forced to be steps ahead in order for our children to receive the support they require to learn and develop.
It is essential for children to be given the best opportunity to achieve their potential, and with ASD it becomes difficult to provide that, with few choices for essential services. All is not lost, and it becomes important to learn all there is about which services are available that meet the needs of your child.
The first line of access is through the general doctor who will discuss with the parents any concerns they may have, or the doctor may find a concern themselves when they do a yearly evaluation.
Referrals to a psychologist would be the next step where they are able to complete a specific set of evaluations and possibly diagnose for ASD. If there is no pediatrician, then the local psychologist at the CIUSSS (formerly known as the CLSC), would evaluate for ASD.
The child would then need a social services representative who would then help give access to essential services such as therapy (government-funded for those under 6-years-old). The social service rep would be there for the family should there be a need regarding their child with ASD. When the child is turning 6, identifying specific schools and helping with the registration process can be mediated by the child’s social service rep.
Schools in the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) and Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) operate differently regarding children diagnosed with ASD. The EMSB provides a shared support person for each child where a child diagnosed with ASD will be allocated 10 hours per week of guidance within the classroom. The EMSB tries to group children diagnosed with ASD in one class to benefit from the support, so the goal is to place at least three children together in order for a full-time support staff to be present 30 hours per week in the same class.
The LBPSB provides a one-on-one support person who will help the child with everyday needs (dressing, lunchtime, etc.). Time within the class may be limited to a specific number of hours per day in order to benefit from specialized coaching by the resource educator.
Each school board provides different resources and support, therefore it is important to know in advance what your child will benefit from the most. Working closely with the social service rep will help immensely.
Other educational options include specialized schools with specialized programs. They include Summit School, Giant Steps, Vanguard School, Peter Hall School and Little Red Playhouse, to name a few. These schools offer more support for children requiring more specific learning strategies. Costs vary for these schools and are considered private institutions with their own school boards.
If in doubt, contact your social service rep to help you navigate the choices available that would meet the needs of your child. And, always remember, the early bird gets the worm.
*All information is a personal opinion of the writer and services mentioned may have changed without public notice.
Camiella Hay
Autism Therapist and Consultant
Autism Behaviour Institute