From our report and recommendations to the Ontario government: Autism services and transition to adulthood

We are blogging each section of our Report and Recommendations to the Ontario Government’s Autism Advisory Committee. Read the full report here: Ontario Recommendations- Inclusion is the New Gold Standard

Our province needs to build a useful system to help autistic youth transition to adulthood. Too often, youth are tracked by well-meaning school programs into “school-to-guardianship” plans that underestimate their capacity for autonomy.

We agree with the National Coalition on Disability (US) on the need for “ensuring that guardianship be a last resort imposed only after less-restrictive alternatives have been determined to be inappropriate or ineffective; and …recognize the serious implications of guardianship and encourages schools to recognize less restrictive decision making supports,” during the transition from school to adulthood (Read the full Report).

To make a more positive policy environment for transitions to adulthood, policymakers need to do more than extend funding for existing programs (although this is also positive, especially when paired with more flexibility). Policymakers must also audit and overhaul existing programs and develop new programs and partnerships that promote supported autonomy.

Following are some of our recommendations. We hope the government will take the time to assess needs, through data collection. We also hope the government can meet with our core group as well as our Parent auxiliary to discuss the future shape of transition services.

Recommendations: Transition to Adulthood

  • Cut wait times and other restrictions on Special Services at Home (SSAH).
  • Offer flexibility in Passport funding plans and options.
  • Ensure that autistic youth are specifically included in the language of all job program opportunities for IDD youth, so resources are clearly available and accessible.
  • Work in partnership with colleges and universities to develop a framework for inclusive post-secondary education that includes AAC & promotes student retention and success.
  • Base AAC funding for new acquisitions on changing communication and developmental needs rather than an arbitrary “5-year” timeframe.
  • Commit to reforming the “school-to-guardianship pipeline”, where youth are placed under guardianships from their earliest years of majority.
    • Research best practices in less restrictive decision-making supports.
    • Implement these practices to increase autonomy for autistic adults.
  • Please see our “Employment” and “Housing” sections for more specific recommendations.