The province of Ontario provides funding to families of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Recently, the Ontario Autism Program (OAP) has changed many times. To learn more, read Ontario Autism Program: a short history.
Who can get the OAP funding?
To access the funding your child must:
have a diagnosis of autism (given by a qualified professional)
Meanwhile, the current program is changing from a childhood budget model to a needs-based therapy model. Don’t worry, you do not have to register again for the OAP if you have registered before. The new program will hopefully begin in March 2021. So far, the province has not released any details of how the new program will work or who will determine each child’s therapy needs.
As the program continues to change, autistic kids fall into 4 categories:
Behaviour Plan Budget (Legacy funding)
Interim One-Time Funding.
Side by Side Therapy can help guide you through the uncertainty that comes with changes in funding. Also, we work with you to make the most of your child’s funding.
What can be purchased with Ontario Autism Program funding?
OAP funding can purchase: ABA services, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy and respite services. Side by Side Therapy offers all of these services. OAP funds can be used to purchase materials and equipment that will benefit your child’s learning. In addition, families are able to purchase a desktop computer, a laptop computer, a tablet/iPad or a smartphone to help their child.
Respite is caregiving for special needs children that allows a primary caregiver to have a break. Raising an autistic child is a multifaceted experience and even though it comes with many joys, there will be plenty of challenges. Parents might put their own needs aside, focusing on their child and their therapies.
In taking care of a child who is on the autism spectrum, you might enter problem-solving mode and forget about yourself. Respite in Toronto might be something to consider, offering short-term relief from being the primary caregiver. Respite in Toronto is more than babysitting. A trained caregiver with experience in your child’s specific needs will be there to support your child (and you!). What are some of the benefits associated with Respite in Toronto? Keep on reading and find out!
How will you benefit from Respite?
#1 A reduced level of stress
Parents of autistic children report significant levels of stress, which in turn affects both their physical and emotional health. Respite gives one the opportunity to take a break, without guilt, from the pressure of it all.
#2 Feeling less frustrated
There will be many moments in which you will feel proud of your child but there will also be situations when things seem to be stuck. Frustration can build up, leading to anger, resentment and hopelessness. Respite relieves such feelings, contributing to improved well-being.
#3 Time to socialize
Autistic children have packed schedules – therapy, school, play dates, to name a few! These activities leave parents unable to spend quality time with others that they love. By opting for respite in Toronto, you will finally have some free time to check in on and hang out with your family and friends. There are plenty of fun activities that you can do while your child is receiving respite!
#4 A healthier relationship with your child
Spending all of your time with a child who has many specific and oftentimes intense needs can be draining. Dealing with tantrums, refusals or meltdowns, you might lose sight of your child’s positive traits. Some time away will allow you to see your child with fresh eyes, reminding you of the things that matter.
#5 Interaction with other people (for the child)
An autistic child’s circle of people is often limited to family, a few friends and the teachers and therapists that they have. In choosing to participate in Respite in Toronto, you will also offer the child a chance to interact with new people in a new setting. This might be hard (for each of you) at first but it will be a great opportunity for your child.
#6 Free time (for you!)
We all love our children and we want the best for them. It’s only natural when given a diagnosis of autism, however, we might naturally put ourselves in second place and dedicate every minute to the child’s development. Respite gives one the opportunity to pursue personal interests, without feeling guilty.
#7 A break from the daily routine
Respite can help both the parent and the child to get a break from the daily routine. Children might be taken to the park or other activities while parents can do whatever they wish. Some parents use respite to get errands done, do something social or just sleep! They can recharge their batteries, looking after themselves for a change.
#8 A different perspective
Sometimes, the therapies chosen for autistic children do not offer the expected results. A plateau might occur in the therapy process causing disappointment and stress. When you opt for respite you get the time and distance you need to get a fresh perspective.
#9 Involving the child in new activities
Even if you have planned your child’s schedule to the last detail, there will still be a lot of activities and opportunities that you haven’t thought of. By accessing respite services, such as the ones we offer at Side by Side Therapy, you can involve your child in new things and help him discover rewarding experiences.
#10 Preservation of your identity
As the parent of an autistic child, you might have forgotten about who you are apart from your child. The person who you used to be. The things that give you purpose. This is why you should take advantage of the break offered by respite in Toronto, using the time to do some self-care.
Looking for respite in Toronto? We are glad to help. Connect with Side by Side Therapy and we will make an appointment for a 30 minute no-charge consultation, so we can discuss respite and other therapeutic solutions. The province of Ontario will provide funding for families to access services. Read more about respite funding here.
Parents often feel guilty for needing time away from their children. There’s no reason to feel guilty. You can use the time to do the things you love, get a fresh perspective on things and meet your friends and family. As for your child, he benefits from excellent care, discovering new people and activities. It is a win-win!
With the weather finally getting warmer and the hope that the Ontario “stay at home” order will be lifted, parents are becoming optimistic that these days of isolation may soon be behind us. Parents can begin planning how they will access respite services in Toronto. Parenting is hard on the best days especially for those that have autistic children, throw in a pandemic and life becomes more challenging and overwhelming than ever before.
Understandably, parents need a break in order to successfully care for their children; taking care of themselves will guard against burn-out, stress and fatigue. Accessing respite as opposed to just a regular babysitter will also allow parents to go out on a date or take a break without stressing and worrying about their child’s well-being while they are away.
Benefits of Respite Services in Toronto
Respite services in Toronto are available to come to your home and provide specialized caregiving to your child or children and youth that have special needs including Autism. Respite services provide flexible short-term temporary care and relief, depending on your specific needs, which is essential for supporting parents with child/youth with special needs. Allowing parents to have time to engage in self-care, rest, see friends and most importantly, spend time together, will undeniably help parents to be more successful and calmer caretakers.
When the restrictions are lifted, parents need to take this opportunity to reconnect and take a well-deserved break. Parents, especially those of Autistic children, may have found a strain on their relationship due to the overwhelming commitments around caregiving, especially during these unprecedented times. In realizing this, it is important, now more than ever, to use respite services in Toronto to take the time for each other to reenergize and connect.
Below are some suggestions of fun date ideas to do in the GTA:
Laser Quest– After being cooped up for so long, if you are looking for a fun and interactive activity, that is reasonably priced, then Laser Tag is a great option. They have many locations around the GTA from Toronto East, Mississauga, Brampton, Richmond Hill and Whitby. For more information please visit their website at https://www.laserquest.com/
Formula Kartways – Located in Brampton, Formula Kartways is a go-karting venue to fulfill your thrill-seeking needs. If you enjoy the need for speed or some friendly competition with your partner, then this is the perfect date place. The great thing is that you don’t need to be good at go-karting to have a great time! For more information please visit their website at http://formulakartways.com/
BATL Axe Throwing – If you are looking for a way to release some of the pent-up energy accumulated during your stay home during the pandemic, then axe throwing is the perfect solution. This incredibly fun activity has various locations around the city. Try it out, you will surely not be disappointed! For more information please visit their website at https://batlgrounds.com/
Cineplex Cinemas – There is no better way to escape from reality than through the experience of a movie. Going to the movies is a classic pastime and a great way to spend time with your partner. With many locations around the GTA, you will undoubtedly find a movie that will sweep you away on date night! For more information please visit https://www.cineplex.com/
High Park – As Toronto’s largest public park, there are many amazing things to do in this vast, lush, beautiful outdoor playground. The park offers activities such as hiking trails, a few eateries, a picnic area, a zoo, a lakefront, to just name a few. What a terrific way to become reacquainted with your partner in an outdoor majestic environment. All you have to do is arrive, take a breath, relax and enjoy! For more information please visit their website at http://www.highparktoronto.com/
The Distillery District – Tucked away in the Toronto East-End, what was once a historic distillery district, is now a community made up of a mix of old and new, resulting in an amazing urban gem. While at the Distillery you will find cobblestone pathways that lead you to quaint art galleries, shops and restaurants. There are also often all sorts of events going on, which indeed, keeps the district full of energy and life.
Remember, parents are humans with important needs too. Luckily, respite services are available to help make life easier and provide opportunities for partners to re-energize and reconnect. Take a break, go on a date, you know you deserve it!
If you would like to discuss respite services in Toronto, please contact us to set up a no-charge consultation today.
Confidence is not a parenting skill parents are born with, but rather a skill that is learned over time. Being the parent of a child with autism can challenge our confidence, but you must understand that this skill is vital in helping your children live better lives.
When you show your children that you are confident, as parents, you make them feel safe. Each child needs to feel that their parents can help them express themselves and handle everything thrown in their direction.
The diagnosis of autism, of course, will change your life and the way you will parent. But it will also give you added motivation to fight for your child and the life he/she deserves to live. You will not always have the answers and there will be plenty of times when you will have to show yourself as confident, despite feeling lost, confused or scared.
How do you become a more confident autism parent?
We have a couple of suggestions for you. The message to take home is: confidence is not necessarily always having a response to a certain situation. It is more about being there for your child, no matter what, and especially when he/she is having a hard time.
Even though this is not necessarily an autism parentingsecret, it is something we often forget. Living with autism, and the sometimes difficult behaviours presented by a child with this diagnosis, it is easy for parents to fall into a path of negative thinking and lose confidence along the way.
Positive thinking, on the other hand, can help you to become more confident in your skills and your parenting abilities. It can be useful when it comes to the way you respond to challenging situations.
You are not a bad parent
Every parent has been there. You felt inadequate, believing that your children deserve better parents. Just because your child has autism, does not mean you are a bad parent.
Whenever you feel terrible, like you have failed your child, remember this – children need love above all else. They need us to be present and show them how to live in a world that seems foreign.
Do not be afraid to ask for help
If you feel like your confidence has been shattered, it is time to get help. This can come from a family member, a friend or even a mental health professional. You might find help in joining an autism parent support group. Your child most likely benefits from therapy, so you should not hesitate to use this form of support as well. Respite might represent an option for you, so that you can have some time for yourself. In time, you will become a more confident parent, one who is calm and supportive of his/her child.
Don’t bend to peer pressure
Autistic children have meltdowns and tantrums, and these often take place in public. If possible, try to go home or choose a private place to help your child calm down. Do not allow others to dictate what you should do, and keep in mind that getting the child out of the respective environment will be quite useful. All children have tantrums, and it just happens that it’s your child’s turn today. Many parents are kind and empathetic in these situations, so just ignore the ones who aren’t!
A lot of parents make the mistake of thinking that they must always find a solution to a potential challenging situation the child is going through. Sometimes, this only adds pressure, causing your confidence to go down.
Instead of forcing yourself to come up with an answer, try to be there for your child. Do not let your confidence suffer, but rather offer your physical presence and this should be enough. Help your child calm down by being calm yourself.
Control your emotions
It goes without saying that no two children are the same, especially when they are autistic. Anger can only damage your confidence, since it will cause you to feel out of control. If the situation seems impossible to handle, it might be best to take a step back. Always try to acknowledge your emotions, but without giving into them.
What does an autistic child need? A confident parent! It might take time and you will make plenty of mistakes along the way, but you need to work on becoming more self-reliant. The bolder you are, the easier it will be to become the advocate your child needs for a better life.
At Side by Side Therapy in Toronto, we aim to improve the quality of life for special needs kids and their families by providing evidence-based, effective, functional interventions that empower parents to empower their children.
Side by Side Therapy in Toronto is hiring for the following independent contractor positions:
Senior Therapists/Behaviour Consultants
Board Certified Behaviour Analysts
Please complete this form to express your interest in working with Side by Side Therapy in Toronto and we will get back to you ASAP!
What does working as an independent contractor mean at Side by Side Therapy in Toronto?
There are many benefits to working as an independent contractor:
You have the flexibility to direct your own work, decided when and where you agree to take clients.
You have access to tax benefits not available to employees.
You will earn more money per hour than an employee.