Overview

Caregiver-mediated early years programs support families with young children ages 12 months to 48 months (4 years). The programs help young children learn new skills and meet individualized goals.

Through these programs, parents and caregivers learn therapeutic strategies and specific techniques from professionals based on their child’s individual needs. The programs aim to build parents’ and caregivers’ capacity to support their child’s skill development in:

  • social interaction
  • play
  • communication
  • emotional development
  • adaptive development and self-help skills

The programs are play-based, child-led and developmentally appropriate. Programs are free of charge and available for up to six months per child.

Eligibility

Most children who are 12 to 48 months old and registered in the Ontario Autism Program are eligible to receive caregiver-mediated early years programs.

If your child is receiving core clinical services or has an active behaviour plan, you’re not eligible to receive caregiver-mediated early years programs.

Children who are receiving caregiver-mediated early years programs can receive other Ontario Autism Program supports (other than OAP core clinical services), special needs supports and/or early intervention programs at the same time. For example, your child can receive foundational family services at the same time as a caregiver-mediated early years program.

Sign up for programs

We are sending invitations to all eligible families. You need to receive an invitation before you can sign up for a program.

Once you receive an invitation, you can contact service providers to ask questions about the programs they offer and decide which program is best for your child. When you choose the program that’s right for your child, you register directly with the service provider.

Read the list of service providers.

Types of programs

Service providers offer one or more of the following six caregiver-mediated early years programs. Eligible families can access these programs for free.

To get more information about the programs you’re interested in, you can contact services providers who are offering the programs. You can find out which service providers are offering which programs under the find services section below.

Early social interaction/social communication emotional regulation and transactional supports (ESI/SCERTS)

For: children 12 to 36 months (3 years) at start of intervention

In ESI/SCERTS, you will receive coaching and be supported to develop your child’s social communication skills within everyday activities and social activities, such as:

  • games (peek-a-boo, hide and seek)
  • meals and snacks (setting the table, clean up)
  • caregiving activities (bathing, diaper changes, hand washing)
  • play with toys (blocks, puzzles, play dough, pretend play)
  • family chores (picking up, getting the mail)
  • books (shapes, colours, numbers)
  • transitions from one activity to another

The coach will guide and support you throughout the program, helping you engage your child by following your child’s focus of interest and by keeping activities predictable. This is highly motivating for children, and it will help you improve your child’s communication, social skills, play skills, self-help and motor skills.

This program is based on evidence as well as the principles of child development and applied behaviour analysis (ABA).

Joint attention, symbolic play, engagement and regulation (JASPER)

For: children 12 to 48 months (4 years) at start of intervention

Joint attention, symbolic play, engagement and regulation (JASPER) trains caregivers about social communication skills. Through JASPER, you will help your child develop targeted skills, including:

  • gestures for joint attention and requesting (such as pointing, coordinated looks between objects and people, and showing)
  • play diversity and complexity (such as using objects to represent something else in play)
  • social engagement (such as improving the child's engagement with others)
  • behaviour regulation (such as using strategies to handle behaviours that interfere with learning and engagement)
  • verbal communication (such as building on the child’s existing language, while also teaching them new words)

The program will show you how to use strategies at home with your child. The program is tailored to the abilities, motivations and needs of each child and caregiver.

Pivotal response treatment (PRT)

For: children 12 to 48 months (4 years) at start of intervention

Pivotal response treatment (PRT) is an evidence-based intervention program that uses applied behaviour analysis (ABA) principles. PRT uses your child’s motivation to teach communication and social engagement. You will learn the core strategies of the program so that you can use it in day-to-day routines and interactions with your child.

The program targets many skills, including eye contact, requesting, turn taking, play skills, and how to gain your child’s attention using a range of strategies.

PLAY project

For: children 12 to 48 months (4 years) at start of intervention

This program is designed for children:

  • at all levels of need
  • who communicate at a variety of levels, from no words up to and including sentences

The PLAY project is an evidence-based, playful, practical, parent-implemented program that supports the development of social interaction, communication, play and preschool skills in children on the autism spectrum. It is developmentally appropriate and fun, with strategies that you can use in your daily activities with your child.

Project ImPACT

For: children 12 to 48 months (4 years) at start of intervention

Project ImPACT (Improving Parents as Communication Teachers) will help you and your child increase social communication, imitation and play skills throughout daily routines.

Highly qualified professionals will coach you as the expert on your child. Together, you and the trainer will develop priority goals and activities to support your child’s learning throughout the day.

Project ImPACT uses a combination of developmental and behavioural strategies to increase social communication skills in four main areas: social engagement, language, social imitation and play.

Social ABCs

For: children 12 to 42 months (3 and a half years) at start of intervention and have social communication difficulties

Social ABCs is based on a combination of developmental and behavioural principles and focuses on improving a toddler’s use of vocalizations to communicate and share positive emotions with others. Opportunities for teaching and learning come from your child’s natural interests during playtime and day-to-day caregiving routines.

You will work with a trained coach to learn the intervention strategies in your child’s natural environment, using play-based activities and daily routines that your child finds the most motivating.

Social ABCs is an evidence-based, caregiver-mediated intervention for toddlers.

Find services

Find service providers that offer caregiver-mediated early years programs.

The providers below are organized by the ministry’s five regional areas: central, east, north, Toronto and west. Many providers offer these programs in partnership with other providers in their communities.

Some providers may offer programs online or virtually to people from anywhere in Ontario.

Central region

Autism in Mind Children’s Charity

Now registering participants

Program offered: Project ImPACT

Local areas served: Markham, Scarborough, Stouffville, Aurora, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Vaughan, North York

Service available in the following language(s): English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Tamil, and Korean. French services can be accommodated through an interpretation service.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

Eastwood Psychologists

Now registering participants

Program offered: Project ImPACT

Local areas served: Peel, Halton, Dufferin-Wellington (Orangeville) and York (Woodbridge)

Service available in the following language(s): English, French, Hindi, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Tagalog, and Urdu.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

ErinoakKids Centre for Treatment and Development

Now registering participants

Program offered: ESI/SCERTS

Local areas served: York, Simcoe, Peel, Halton, Dufferin/Wellington, Waterloo

Service available in the following language(s): English and French. Translation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

KidsAbility

Now registering participants

Programs offered: ESI/SCERTS and Social ABCs

Local areas served: Waterloo Region, County of Wellington

Service available in the following language(s): English and French (via virtual services through a partnership with the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario – CHEO). Translation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

Monarch House partnered with LifeWorks and Boomerang Health

Now registering participants

Program offered: Project ImPACT

Local areas served: York, Peel, Waterloo, Halton, and Toronto

Service available in the following language(s): English. Translation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

On Solid Ground Inc.

Now registering participants

Program offered: Project ImPACT

Local areas served: York and Simcoe

Service available in the following language(s): English and French. Translation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC) partnered with AlphaBee

Now registering participants

Program offered: JASPER

Local areas served: Toronto, York, Peel, Halton, and Hamilton

Service available in the following language(s): English. Translation support will be available as needed for French, Tamil, Urdu, Hindi, Mandarin, Bengali, Farsi, Malayalam and Kannada.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

St. Joseph's Health Centre Guelph

Now registering participants

Programs offered: Project ImPACT and PLAY Project

Local areas served: Waterloo, Wellington and Dufferin Counties

Service available in the following language(s): English. Translation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

Woodview Mental Health and Autism Services

Now registering participants

Program offered: Project ImPACT

Local areas served: Halton

Service available in the following language(s): English. Translation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

York Simcoe Autism Network (YSAN)

Now registering participants

Programs offeredPRT, PLAY Project and Social ABCs

Local areas served: York Region and Simcoe County

Service available in the following language(s):

  • Play Project: English and French
  • Pivotal Response Treatment: English and French
  • Social ABCs: English and French
  • Translation services for other languages will be available as needed

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information

East region

ACT Learning Centre partnered with Make Way for Me, All About Communication and 1to1 Therapy

Now registering participants

Program offered: PLAY Project

Local areas served: Ottawa, Stormont/Dundas/Glengarry, Prescott/Russell, Lanark/Leeds/Grenville, Renfrew, Frontenac/Lennox/Addington, Hastings/Prince Edward/Northumberland, Haliburton/Kawartha Lakes/Peterborough, and Durham

Service available in the following language(s): English, French and Spanish. Translation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

Canopy Support Services

Now registering participants

Programs offered: ESI/SCERTS, PRT

Local areas served: Peterborough, Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton and Northumberland

Service available in the following language(s): English and French

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)

Now registering participants

Program offered: Social ABCs

Local areas served: Stormont-Dundas and Glengarry, Prescott and Russell, Ottawa and Renfrew, Dufferin/Wellington (French services only), Waterloo (French services only)

Service available in the following language(s): English and French

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

ConnectWell Community Health

Now registering participants

Programs offered: PLAY Project

Local areas served: Lanark County, Leeds and Grenville Counties, and Renfrew County

Service available in the following language(s): English and French

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

Grandview Kids - OAP Durham Partnership

Now registering participants

Programs offered: Project ImPACT, Social ABCs and PLAY Project

Local areas served: Durham

Service available in the following language(s): English and French. Translation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

KidsInclusive – Kingston Health Sciences Centre

Now registering participants

Program offered: Social ABCs

Local areas served: Kingston, County of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Counties, Lanark County, Leeds and Grenville Counties

Service available in the following language(s): English and French

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

Maltby Centre

Now registering participants

Program offered: Project ImPACT

Local areas served: Lanark County, Leeds and Grenville Counties, Renfrew County, City of Kingston, County of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Counties, Hastings and Prince Edward Counties

Service available in the following language(s): English and French. Translation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

QuickStart Early Years Partnership Inc. partnered with Emerging Minds, 1to1 Therapy and Aspire Academy

Now registering participants

Program offered: ESI/SCERTS

Local areas served: Ottawa, Stormont/Dundas/Glengarry, Prescott-Russell, Renfrew, Lanark, and Durham

Service available in the following language(s): English and French. Interpretation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

North region

Child & Community Resources

Now registering participants

Programs offered: PRT and Project ImPACT

Local areas served: Nipissing, Sudbury/Manitoulin, Algoma, Kenora/Rainy River, Thunder Bay

Service available in the following language(s): English and French

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

Hands TheFamilyHelpNetwork.ca

Now registering participants

Program offered: Project ImPACT

Local areas served: Nipissing, Parry Sound, Cochrane /Temiskaming

Service available in the following language(s): English and French

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

Roots & Wings Psychology

Now registering participants

Program offered: JASPER

Local areas served: Sudbury and Thunder Bay District

Service available in the following language(s): English and French

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

Toronto region

Monarch House partnered with LifeWorks and Boomerang Health

Now registering participants

Program offered: Project ImPACT

Local areas served: York, Peel, Waterloo, Halton, and Toronto

Service available in the following language(s): English. Translation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

New Haven Learning Centre

Now registering participants

Programs offered: PRT and ESI/SCERTS

Local areas served: Greater Toronto Area

Service available in the following language(s): English

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC) partnered with AlphaBee

Now registering participants

Program offered: JASPER

Local areas served: Toronto, York, Peel, Halton, and Hamilton

Service available in the following language(s): English. Translation support will be available as needed for French, Tamil, Urdu, Hindi, Mandarin, Bengali, Farsi, Malayalam and Kannada.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

Toronto Autism Services Network (Surrey Place)

Now registering participants

Programs offered: Project ImPACT, Social ABCs, and PRT

Local areas served: Toronto

Service available in the following language(s):

  • Project ImPACT: English and French
  • Social ABCs: English
  • PRT: English
  • Translation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

West region

Connections Early Years Family Centre

Now registering participants

Programs offered: Social ABCs, Project ImPACT, PLAY Project

Local areas served: Windsor-Essex County

Service available in the following language(s): English and French. Translation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

McMaster Children’s Hospital – Hamilton Health Sciences

Now registering participants

Programs offered: Social ABCs, PRT, ESI/SCERTS

Local areas served: Hamilton, Niagara, Brant, Haldimand-Norfolk, Six Nations of the Grand River, Mississaugas of the Credit and surrounding areas

Service available in the following language(s): English and French. Translation services for other languages will be available as needed.

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information:

http://www.McMasterChildrensHospital.ca/Autism

Hamilton and area

Niagara and area

Haldimand-Norfolk and area

Brantford and area

Six Nations of the Grand River and area

TVCC (formerly Thames Valley Children’s Centre)

Now registering participants

Programs offered: PRT, Social ABCs, JASPER

Local areas served: Bruce, Chatham-Kent, Elgin, Essex (including Windsor), Grey, Huron, Lambton (including Sarnia), Middlesex (including London), Oxford (including Woodstock), and Perth (including Stratford) counties

Service available in the following language(s): English and French

Online/virtual programs: yes, for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows

More information: