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Children and Youth With Special Needs

Children and Youth With Special Needs

Who do you support?

We support children and youth, under the age of 19, who have been diagnosed with a developmental disability or Autism Spectrum Disorder.

How do I access your programs?

Your child/youth must first meet Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) eligibility criteria before a referral to our programs can be completed. After eligibility has been established, your Children and Youth with Special Needs Social Worker (CYSN) will review your family’s support requirements to determine whether individual or group services would be most beneficial. Your referral is then forwarded to the program coordinator and when an opening becomes available in the requested program, it is filled on a “first come, first served” basis.

What do your programs offer families?

Our programs focus on providing services that improve your child/youth’s development, supports their participation in community life and assists in building your overall capacity as a family. Participation in any of our programs is voluntary.

Individual Services

Service is goal oriented and focuses on skill development in areas specific to you and your child/youth.

Some of the areas that program staff support families include:

  • identifying children/youth’s developmental needs;
  • accessing community services which support children/youth’s identified needs;
  • implementing behaviour support plans as outlined by a behaviour consultant;
  • strengthening communication skills, daily living skills, social skills and increasing community access opportunities;
  • exploring potential volunteer and employment opportunities; and
  • assisting with youth’s transition from children to adult community living services.

Group Services

The program also offers a variety of opportunities for skill development within a group setting. All groups meet once a week, Monday through Friday, for periods of 1.5 to 2.5 hours depending on the group. Groups are operational between September and June and vary in duration. 

As a parents/caregiver, you are responsible for arranging/providing transportation for your child/youth both to and from the group location.

  • Social Buddies (ages 6-12) is a three-tier program where participants learn the building blocks for effective socialization. The group focuses on skills such as recognizing sensory and arousal levels, transitions, turn-taking, impulse control, conversation starters, personal space, etc. Participants are able to repeat each level if they have not developed the skills required to proceed to the next level.
  • The Pre-Teen (ages 12-14) and Teens on the Scene (ages 14-18) groups focus on developing and strengthening social skills (personal space, the importance of turn-taking, greetings and reciprocal conversation), and life skills (meal preparation and clean up), as well as provide opportunities for community access and inclusion.
  • The Leadership Group (ages 15-18) provides the opportunity for interested youth to develop their leadership skills in a supportive and facilitated group environment. Participants work with both program staff and student mentors from Pearson College. The group focuses on topics such as being open-minded, “thinking outside the box”, being a role model, including everyone, working well with others, communication skills and determining when to listen and when to speak.
  • The Transition Group (ages 16-18) focuses on youth who have expressed an interest in living independently or semi-independently in the future. The group focuses on such topics as nutrition, meal planning and preparation, budgeting, personal hygiene, volunteerism, employment and post-secondary exploration, and discovering personal attributes and aspirations.

How long will my family receive services?

Individual services typically last for 9 months, but may be extended based on individual circumstances and available resources. The number of hours provided per week ranges between 2 and 4. Service hours and scheduling are based on your child/youth’s goals and availability to participate in the services offered.

What time of the day are services provided?

Individual service is provided Monday to Friday from after school and in to the evening, but can be adjusted to accommodate meetings earlier in the day as defined by service goals and staff availability

Where are services provided?

Program staff support children/youth in both community settings and in their home environment.

What to expect

Upon accepting the services offered, you can expect the following:

  • a thorough orientation to the program’s services;
  • a collaborative assessment involving you, your child/youth, and other community professionals (as permitted by you);
  • collaborative goal development based on the information gathered through the assessment process;
  • progress towards goals to be regularly reviewed with you and your child/youth; and
  • when service closes you will be provided with a summary of the progress made towards the identified goals.

How to Reach Us

For further information on Services for Children and Youth with Special Needs, please contact Cheryl Sanders at