Beginning in 2007, the Provincial Advisory Team (PAT) was established to support the monitoring and implementation of the Collaborative Service Delivery Model for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (CSDM-ASD) and to provide advice and oversight to the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Child and Youth Services, as well as the school board/Autism Intervention Program (AIP) partnerships participating in the various phases of CSDM-ASD.
As the PAT, we represent a broad range of stakeholders and interests including Autism Ontario (AO), the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario (LDAO), parents of students with ASD, school boards, ASD and child professionals, and community agencies. As co-chairs, appointed by the Ministries of Education and Child and Youth Services, we were tasked with leading and facilitating discussions during PAT meetings and consultations.
In our respective roles, PAT members have extensive experience with both the provision of Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI) and the publicly-funded school system. Moreover, we are also invested with the senior administrative background to be able to assess the systemic impact on organizations arising from any change proposals. We are pleased to note that during the relatively brief history of the Connections for Students model, anecdotal and formal data collection suggests that this collaborative approach to transition planning results in a more orderly, beneficial, and supportive experience for many students with ASD and their families.
Through collaboration among the school boards and Autism Intervention Program (AIP) providers that participated in the CSDM Phase 2, and the Ministries of Education and Children and Youth Services, we have identified effective practices that may be helpful in the ongoing implementation of the Connections for Students model. In the pages that follow, school board and AIP staff will be able to access lessons learned and suggested strategies that were informed by our observation and participation as representatives of PAT.
Provincial Implementation of the Collaborative Service Delivery Model for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Connections for Students) marks a significant improvement in the provision of services to students with autism spectrum disorders, and we are thankful for the opportunity to contribute to this improvement. It is now the responsibility of AIP providers and school boards to maintain and improve upon established partnerships with families to refine supports for children and youth with ASD making transitions of all kinds. The barometer for the health of these partnerships will continue to be the extent to which collaboration impacts the transformation of these institutions.
The Provincial Advisory Team
Gary Mahoney, and Elizabeth Scott, Co-chairs
Download the entire document as a PDF file.
The Characteristics of Success and Suggested Strategies include effective practices identified by the Provincial Advisory Team (PAT) during their observation and participation in the Collaborative Service Delivery Model (CSDM) for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder Phase 2. Effective practices were informed by experiences and lessons learned summarized by the 16 school board and AIP partnerships that implemented the Connections for Students model during CSDM Phase 2.
These lessons learned and suggested strategies may be helpful to school boards and AIP providers in the ongoing implementation of Connections for Students. These strategies may not reflect the realities of all projects, nor do they attempt to set out definitive practices. It is understood that each partnership has their own unique circumstances; therefore effective practices provided may be adapted to best suit the needs of the school boards, AIP, the student, and their families.
Defined Roles & Responsibilities
The Provincial Advisory Team (PAT) has identified the following Considerations that may require particular focus by school boards and partnerships implementing the Connections for Students model. Each consideration categorizes a summary of experiences that occurred during the implementation of the Collaborative Service Delivery Model (CSDM) for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder Phase 2, and include potential recommended solutions provided by the PAT that may be helpful to school boards and AIP providers in the ongoing implementation of Connections for Students.
It is understood that each partnership has their own unique circumstances; therefore considerations identified are not a definitive list that school board and AIP partnerships may encounter during the provincial implementation of Connections for Students, nor do they reflect the realities of all partnership conditions. This provides an opportunity for the sharing of effective practices and approaches which PAT members have found to be useful when planning and implementing the Connections for Students model.
Regular meetings can present a challenge for professionals and parents. Limited capacity of staff to attend transition meetings due to time commitments and human resources, as well as parents' limitations to attend meetings due to work, transportation or personal circumstances (financial, time and/or child care challenges) may result in scheduling difficulties.
Parents and school staff may have difficulty understanding the role and responsibilities of each transition team member as they shift into the Connections for Students process. Parents and team members may be entering new, changed or enhanced roles and required clarity about how these roles support and compliment each other.
Connections for Students team members may not agree on an area of importance for the student or on communication, format, or a particular decision to be made.
Some board districts may cover a vast geographical area, therefore children receiving IBI and entering Connections for Students may be spread out and schools may not go through the Connections for Students process for the first time well into the next few years. The challenge is to have school staff well-trained and skilled to successfully transition students through the Connections process even though it may be years between cases.
Ensuring adequate knowledge of ASD among team members involved with the student is critical. Although in-service and training may have taken place in your board, if individual staff have not had a student with ASD, they may have limited knowledge of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and how it can be applied and tailored to meet the varying strengths and needs of the student. General information regarding principles of ABA is widespread, but specific strategies may not be in everyone's repertoire.
There may be a few situations in which sudden withdrawals from IBI therapy occur, resulting in less than six months for transition. Boards may experience sudden parental withdrawals from IBI or abrupt clinical-based discharges.
Parents/Guardians and/or family representatives participating in the Connections for Students may limit their level of input into the transition process or become disengaged during transition team meetings. This may be due to unfamiliarity with school boards and AIP processes or a lack of supports to provide an opportunity for the family to effectively contribute to the planning and progress of the Connections for Students transition.
* The resources made available are for use as examples of tools and templates that have been found useful by boards and AIPs that have implemented the Connections for Students model. The intent of the tool and template examples is to assist in the development of resources. Boards and AIPs that have developed such resources to meet their own local circumstances, and as such, these resources may not reflect the realities of all projects.