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Autism Program

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To ensure the safety of our patients, families, staff, and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to offer a wide range of virtual services to patients and families. These services include ABA and Psychology services, clinic appointments, consultations, parent/caregiver workshops and training, and groups for children and youth. We are committed to you and your families and will communicate updates as we receive new information and direction.

View McMaster Children’s Hospital Autism Program Spring/Summer 2024 Service Guide here. Many of the services are provided as part of the OAP’s Foundational Family Services and are available at no cost. To register or for more information, please email or call 905-521-2100 ext. 78972.

Resources for Caregivers

Resources during COVID-19

Behavioural Strategies for Weeks Without School: Developed by McMaster Children’s Hospital Autism Program, these general proactive behavioural strategies are for parents and caregivers of children and youth with autism.

Stay Home Kit developed by the Young Caregivers Association: These exercises encourage children and youth to explore their feelings about COVID-19. With parental guidance and/or modifications and dependent upon your child’s developmental level, this resource may be also useful for children and youth with ASD/NDD. A second edition of the Stay Home Kit is available. For more information on the Young Caregivers Association please visit:

We’re offering free virtual clinic and consultation appointments. Learn more.

Watch the video: Truth or Myth: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
View our videos for parents and caregivers.
View our virtual family nights.

Tip Sheets for Parents & Caregivers

Toilet Training
Teaching Naturally
Set a Predictable Routine
Providing Clear Instructions
Safety at Home
Positive Reinforcement
Keeping Engaged
Improving Sleep

About Us

Our team is part of McMaster Children’s Hospital, one of Canada’s leading providers of specialized, evidence-based care for children and youth.

We are based at MCH’s Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre – a state of the art facility designed in collaboration with patients and families. It features multiple play zones, a resource library, interactive artwork, and specialized therapy space, such as fully outfitted kitchens where clients can practice life skills. We serve families in Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Brantford, Niagara, and surrounding areas. Our services are available to children with a diagnosis of autism, and those with other neuro-developmental disorders or acquired neuro-disabilities.

Our clinical team are experts in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). As part of a hospital, we’re held to the highest training and oversight standards. This means you can always be confident our staff have the skills and up to date knowledge to give your children the best chance at success.

Changes to the Ontario Autism Program

As you all know, the Ontario Autism Program is undergoing changes, including a transition to a direct funding model. The system is still evolving and so is our program. This is new territory for us, so we will be looking for your input and guidance along the way.  If you have questions or suggestions, please contact us.

You can read a letter from our program leaders about the changes here.

Getting Started

Build a plan that works for you

We know one size does not fit all when it comes to autism services. Our service offerings are designed to allow you to mix and match based on your family’s needs. Overwhelmed? Let us help.

For a limited time, we are offering a free initial consultation to assess your family’s needs and create a customized service plan that gives you the most value for your budget. To book yours, please complete the Service Inquiry Contact Form under the tab below.

Some of our services are geared towards children of a particular age and/or developmental level. Learn more about these levels under the Level Descriptions tab.

Autism Diagnosis

In order to register for autism services through the Ontario Autism Program, a child must have a written diagnosis from a qualified professional. This is done at Diagnostic Hubs across the province, one of which is based at our Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre. If your child does not already have a formal autism diagnosis, your primary care provider can refer you to the diagnostic hub. More information is provided here.

Service Inquiry Contact Form

To learn more about or register for any of our services, please complete and submit the form below. A member of our team will follow up with you by phone.

  • If you have multiple children who may require services, please separate their names using commas.
  • If you have multiple children, you may choose multiple age groups by holding down the CTRL key and making your selection with the mouse.
  • You may choose multiple services by holding down the CTRL key and making your selection with the mouse.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Service Packages

We can offer tailored or themed service packages to help your family accomplish specific objectives. Themed packages include a combination of services to target a goal, such as toilet training, and have been created based on our years of experience in what works best.

Our clinicians are also able to work alongside you to customize a service package. When you buy a package, you will receive a discount compared to purchasing services individually. Ask us about our package options when you come in for your initial consultation.

Themed packages

We are currently offering four themed service packages. Click the links below to learn more.

Next Steps Service Package

Transition to Adulthood Service Package

Toilet Training Service Package

Improving Sleep Service Package

Level Descriptions

To help parents and caregivers choose the most appropriate services, we have recommended each service according to both age and developmental level. If no age or level is specified, the service is open to all. These levels have been developed by our program for this specific purpose. If you have any questions about what level best matches your child, please do not hesitate to contact us at 905-521-2100, ext. 78972.

Area Level A Level B Level C
Social • Does not play with toys as they were designed
•Enjoys solitary play
• May not respond to adult or peer attempts to interact
•Enjoys cause and effect toys
• Plays with toys as they were designed and enjoys pretend play
• Aware of adults and peers in close proximity
• May participate in some interactive or cooperative play with assistance
• Does not initiate peer interaction but will follow along in simple interactive games
• Participates in interactive and cooperative play with little to no assistance
• Understands the rules of play including turn-taking, sharing,winning and losing
• Participates in verbal exchanges with self and peers during play
• Plays board games and video games with minimal assistance
Communication • May not have a communication system in place
•Primarily non-verbal
• Uses visuals or augmentative communication device with prompting
• Difficulty following simple instructions
• Can request needs and wants with 1-4 word sentences or by using an augmentative communication system
• Minimal back and forth conversation skills
• Advanced communication skills using verbal requests,comments and questions
• Can participate in both verbal and non-verbal communication
• Can initiate, maintain and end conversations with assistance
• May become fixated or have trouble moving away from a preferred topic of discussion
Behaviour & Daily Living • Needs help to complete daily routines such as washing,toileting or eating
• Engages in repetitive behaviours
• Difficulty transitioning from one activity to the next
• Can follow daily routines with minimal assistance
• Does not like to deviate from daily routine and has difficulty with unexpected changes
• May engage in repetitive behaviours but is easily redirected
• Can follow one/two step directions independently
• Can follow daily routines with little to no assistance
• Adapts to transitions and changes to routine
• Can follow complex individual and group instructions independently


Ontario Autism Program

Earlier this year, the Ontario government announced changes to the Ontario Autism Program. Information about the changes can be found on the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services website. Please read through the information provided by the Ontario government. If you have questions, our program staff are happy to help.

Childhood Budgets

In the new program, families will receive direct funding called a Childhood Budget. This money can be used to purchase eligible services you believe are most helpful to your child and family. The ministry is taking a phased approach to bringing families who are currently on the wait list into the program. Please visit the Ontario Autism Program website to learn more about this process.

Transition of Services

During the transition to the new program, all children who currently have a behaviour plan will continue to receive the services outlined in that plan until its end date. As you get close to the end of your child’s additional behaviour plan, you will receive information about applying for a Childhood Budget.

Entry to School Program

Program Components:

  • A six-month curriculum-based program to prepare your child to begin school, with a focus on key readiness skills
  • Individualized programming with virtual, in-person, and group-based service elements
  • Individualized transition supports and consultation for the first six months of school


  • Be registered with the Ontario Autism Program and received an invitation letter for this service
  • Children with Autism, who will be entering school for the first time (Kindergarten or Grade 1)

After receiving an invitation from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS), families can contact McMaster Children’s Hospital to learn about available service options in the Hamilton, Niagara, Brant, Haldimand-Norfolk, Six Nations of the Grand River, and Mississaugas of the Credit area. These services are available at no cost to families. Services are delivered in partnership with Bethesda, Haldimand-Norfolk R.E.A.C.H., Lansdowne Children’s Centre, McMaster Children’s Hospital, Niagara Children’s Centre, and Six Nations Health Services.

For registration or to learn more, call 905-521-2100 ext. 70019 or email

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