Education Minister Lisa Thompson announced additional funding for students with autism, along with more resources for school boards and teachers.
As more students and youth with autism are expected to begin entering school on a full-time basis this spring, school boards will receive an average of $12,300.
Thompson said they are developing a new strategy for working with students with autism using four pillars: professional development, funding, after-school programs and collaboration.
Starting this fall, the Ministry of Education will also subsidize the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) additional qualification course for teachers.
New teachers entering the system will also have increased training in support of students with ASD during their onboarding. In addition to the training, the province is asking all school boards to set aside a Professional Activity Day dedicated to the best way forward for supporting students with ASD.
The plan is to have every teacher trained to support students with autism by 2020-2021 .
The provincial government will once again provide $3 billion in special education funding to school boards that will allow boards to be “responsive to increased enrollment, hire more ABA professionals or purchase new sensory equipment.”
An after-school program extended pilot project for students with autism, originally introduced by the Ontario Liberals in 2017, will also be extended to all 72 school boards across the province.
Thompson adds they are also doubling our investment in the Geneva Centre for autism to $2 million, which will provide over 4,000 educators each year with the opportunity for more ASD-related training.
Principals for several Ontario school boards had recently called on Thompson to delay the changes to autism funding as their staff lack the necessary medical and professional training to deal with autistic children who could be spending more time in classrooms due to recent changes to government funding for therapy.
The Ministry also added that they will be hosting a series of virtual sessions to engage parents, educators, administrators and interested community members in a dialogue about these complex issues.
She added she continues to partner and stand beside Social Services Minister Lisa Macleod saying, “we will work to support transitions through the programs her ministry has, like the Connections for Students transition teams.” -CINEWS