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  • News
  • October 24, 2017

Helping Caregivers Help Children and Youth with Autism

Helping Caregivers Help Children and Youth with Autism

October 23, 2017

Minister of Children and Youth Services Michael Coteau announced today Ontario is investing in programs offered by Scarborough’s South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC). Through counselling, workshops and peer support groups, SAAAC helps parents across the Greater Toronto Area care for their kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

SAAAC programs have a culturally sensitive approach to supporting newcomers and the South Asian community families, and Ontario is supporting the following programs:

  • Assessment, Development, Empowerment (ADE) –  a program dedicated to arming parents and caregivers with information to navigate autism-related services, build a strong network of support, and learn basic behavioural and communication teaching strategies.
  • SAAAC CARES Parental Mental Health Program – a program to educate, empower and support caregivers who require post-diagnosis emotional support and counselling as they build their knowledge.

The support announced today is in addition to the new Ontario Autism Program (OAP), which began to be implemented in June 2017 and is transforming how children and youth with ASD and their families receive services and supports. The new OAP delivers consistent services across the province, allows for flexibility and choice based on each child's needs, and gives families confidence in receiving quality services.

Ontario is committed to providing supports for the whole family. Through the OAP and programs such as those provided by SAAAC, government is helping parents and caregivers develop the skills they need to support their child or youth with ASD to help them thrive and reach their full potential.


“Ontario is committed to improving supports for students with autism spectrum disorder and their families. But we rely on the strength of our partners, like Scarborough’s South Asian Autism Awareness Centre, to ensure parents have the information they need so that their children are well equipped to reach their full potential.”

- Mitzie Hunter, MPP Scarborough-Guildwood

« L’Ontario s’est engagé à améliorer les services offerts aux élèves présentant des troubles du spectre autistique et à leurs familles. À cet égard, la province compte sur le soutien de ses partenaires, comme le centre sud-asiatique de sensibilisation à l’autisme de Scarborough, pour s’assurer que les parents reçoivent les renseignements dont ils ont besoin pour préparer le parcours éducatif de leur enfant. »

- Mitzie Hunter, députée provinciale (Scarborough–Guildwood)

“I applaud the South Asian Autism Awareness Centre’s grassroots efforts to support parents navigate and cope with their Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis and its ensuing effects. Parents and caregivers have a tremendous role to play in helping their child or youth with ASD, and, as a parent myself, I know how vital community services can be. Thank you to SAAAC for your hard work, and I look forward to continuing to hear your success stories.”

---Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services

“The SAAAC Autism Centre has been working with families since our inception in 2008. Our experiences have shown us that in order to help individuals with developmental disabilities, you must help their parents and caregivers. Our services enable parents and caregivers to be connected, empowered, and well-informed in their journey to provide support for their loved ones. We thank MCYS for recognizing the importance of parent support programs and how imperative it is alongside the new Ontario Autism Program.”

--Geetha Moorthy, Executive Director, South Asian Autism Awareness Centre.


  • Ontario is investing $530,000 over two years in programs aimed at supporting parents of children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) provided by the South Asian Autism Awareness Centre (SAAAC).
  • The South Asian Autism Awareness Centre is a Toronto-based charity that supports culturally and linguistically diverse families impacted by ASD. 
  • Ontario is investing an unprecedented half-billion dollars over five years to create new services and supports across Ontario for children and youth with ASD and their families. This includes the creation of the new Ontario Autism Program, which will provide an expanded and more individualized program of supports for children, youth and their families.
  • The role of parents and caregivers is essential to helping children and youth with ASD apply the skills they learn in their daily lives. Through the OAP, parents will be supported to acquire the skills they need to support their child or youth’s development. 


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