Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness and Acceptance 

Welcome to the OCDSB’s Autism Awareness and Acceptance page. As you read on, please note we will interchangeably use identity-first language such as “autistic students”, in combination with phrasing such as “students with autism”, “ASD”, or “across the spectrum”, to be as inclusive as possible of everyone’s rights and respect to identity. 

Autism occurs in all racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups and affects the way people interact and communicate with those around them. Each child and adult with ASD is unique and has their own strengths, gifts and support needs.

The OCDSB recognizes October as Autism Awareness Month in Canada. In the fall, the importance of awareness and acceptance is interwoven in our efforts to support our students as they transition into school for the first time, move from grade to grade, or begin on their own journey beyond Secondary school. In addition, we recognize World Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month in April, and World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd. Please check back with us in the Spring to learn about our WAAM initiatives for April.

A new report from the Public Health Agency of Canada; Autism Spectrum Disorder: Highlights from the 2019 Canadian Health Survey on Children and Youth, estimates that the prevalence rate of autism in Canada is 1 in 50 in children between one and 17 years of age. This is approximately two percent of Canadian children and adolescents.

New Programs and Resources for Families 

Autism Ontario has recently launched AccessOAP. AccessOAP helps children, youth, and their families access programs and services that meet their specific needs.

For help creating an account, watch this video. If you have any further questions, you can reach out to AccessOAP at [email protected] or 1-833-425-2445 (Monday-Friday - 8:30 am - 5:00 pm EST).


Entry to School is a new OAP funded program that aims to help autistic children prepare to start kindergarten or Grade 1 for the first time. It includes two phases of support: the first is a six-month, group-based, skill-building program focused on helping children develop school-readiness skills, and the second provides student-specific transition services for up to 6 months. The OCDSB will work in collaboration with the Entry to School Program to support our students’ successful transition to school.  

The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) is also leading new Urgent Response Services (URS) in our region. The OCDSB is glad to continue our community partnership with CHEO to help meet the needs of our students.

Additional Resources 

Holiday Tips for Students with ASD
Successful Transition Tips for the Winter Break 

Ontario Entry to School Program: Learn about the entry to school program for children who are registered in the OAP and starting kindergarten or Grade 1.

Urgent Response Services: Learn how to access support if your child or youth has an urgent need. Find out who is eligible, how to get services, and who to contact.

Service Coordination and Support

Inclusion Strategies from Shelley Moore

Ten Facts About Autism

Autism Ontario Handouts:
The handouts below can support families transitioning to AccessOAP and applying to the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) through AccessOAP.

Handout 1: Designed for families who think their child might be eligible for the OAP but are not currently enrolled in the program (English | French)

Handout 2: Designed for those already registered in the Ontario Autism Program (English | French)

Transition Tips for the End of the Summer

Mental Health Literacy Guide for Autism (York University)

Past Speaker Series Events and Materials

In April 2021, the OCDSB hosted a virtual speaker series for OCDSB families and staff. Recordings and resources from the sessions can be viewed below.

Session 1: Dr. Jed Baker discusses strategies to support restricted activities, remote learning, and altered school routines.Download the presentation slides (PDF).

Session 2: Dr. Baker discusses strategies to motivate individuals to learn, ways to teach social skills, and how to generalize skills and increase acceptance.Download the presentation slides (PDF).

Panel Discussion: A Community Agencies Panel shares information on supporting families in navigating local services and supports. The discussion is based around child/youth case management and developmental services. Panelists include Kelsey McDaniel, Autism Ontario; Crystal Betton-Janes, Service Coordination Support; and MarieJosee Samson, Developmental Services Ontario.

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