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Autism Services

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) show delays in communication and social interaction and display unusual patterns of behaviours, activities and interests. 

ASDs usually appear during the first three years of life.  Although we have not discovered the true causes of ASDs, scientists have found a genetic basis.  This suggests it may run in families, but there is still a lot to learn about other possible causes. 

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1. Symptoms

Signs to look for

Early indicators include:

  • No babbling (stringing sounds together to make sentences) by 12 months of age.
  • No gestures (pointing, waving bye-bye, etc.) by 12 months of age.
  • No response to their name by 12 months of age.
  • No single words by 16 months of age.
  • No two-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months of age.

Difficulties with social interaction:

  • May withdraw from others.
  • May not seek attention or actively engage with other people.
  • May not follow or try pointing to show interest in something.
  • May not turn to respond to their name.

Communication problems:

  • Difficulties in verbal (spoken) and non-verbal (gestures, facial expression, body language) communication.  This may range from no speech at all to full sentences that are odd in the way they are spoken or their meaning.
  • Speaking style may appear robotic or scripted from TV, repetitive or “echoing,” use of words with no obvious meaning, or use of “giant” words (multiple words used as a single word – “whatisthis”).
  • May not start talking until much later than their peers.

Unusual behaviours, interest and activities:

  • May have highly specific and focused interests (e.g., obsessions with trains or maps) to the exclusion of other things.
  • May be very rigid in routines (taking the same route to school every day, playing with a toy in only one way, resisting schedule changes).
  • May show repetitive actions such as hand-flapping, rocking, etc.
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2. Diagnosis

If you suspect your child has ASD, contact an ASD Consultant in your area.

An ASD Consultant will complete a screening to determine your child’s level of risk for an ASD and link you to services and supports that best meet the needs of your child. 

Should your child’s level of risk be high for an ASD, the ASD Consultant will make a referral for an assessment and begin development of an individual program plan for your child and family. 

A diagnosis is often a multi-step process which may include a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, neurologist, developmental pediatrician, speech/language pathologist, occupational therapist, teacher, and other health professionals.

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3. Treatment

A variety of ASD services and supports are available to individuals throughout the province. 

The Ministry of Education provides support to all children and youth, including children with special needs, through Early Childhood Intervention Programs and/or Boards of Education.

The Ministry of Social Services provides flexible funding to people through Communities Working Together: Saskatchewan’s Action Plan for Citizens with Cognitive Disabilities, and programs offered within the Community Living Service Delivery.

The Ministry of Health provides global funding to the Saskatchewan Health Authority for the delivery of health programs and services, including services to the ASD population. In addition, the Ministry of Health offers the Framework and Action Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorders Services in Saskatchewan in communities across the province. This action plan provides evidence-supported intervention options, including behavioural, visual or social strategies through individual programming developed by the client’s service team and family. The action plan builds on and joins with other services available in the community to meet the needs of the clients it services. 

Respite/seasonal programming is also available to support children and youth with ASD.  

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4. Resources

Adults

Adult autism diagnosis and assessment services include:

  • psychological assessment and diagnosis of adult ASD
  • related services including screening, treatment plans, and consultation

Services Available:

Area contact:
Contact details:
Saskatoon 
Dr. Rupal Bonli
Phone: 306-270-6734
Email: rupalbonli@shaw.ca 
Central/Northern Saskatchewan
Dr. Deb Hay
Phone: 306-249-4472
Email: adultpsych@autismservices.ca
Download the referral form 

Southern Saskatchewan
Regina Child and Youth Services  
Phone: 306-766-6700

Children and Youth

ASD consultants can screen for the possibility of ASD, refer for diagnosis and assessment, and facilitate the development and implementation of a support and/or treatment plan for individuals up to 19 years old.

ASD support workers can implement specific ASD therapy plans under the supervision of an ASD consultant for children who have not yet successfully transitioned to school.

To find an ASD consultant in your area, visit the Saskatchewan Health Authority's website.


Community-based organizations and other available information and services

Autism Resource Centre 
Provides year-round services and supports to all young adults diagnosed with autism between the ages of 18 to 35. Adult programming is focused on building independence and critical skills in all ares of life including: employment, living on one’s own, life skills, social interactions, and relationship building.

The Autism Resource Centre also provides structured, therapeutic summer programs for children/youth aged 7 to 18 who require one-to one support staff. For those who do not require one-to-one summer camp support, ARC also runs an inclusive summer camp in partnership with the Regina YMCA as well as Improv classes for youth and adults in partnership with the Regina Globe Theatre.
Autism Services of Saskatoon 
A Saskatoon-based agency which provides consultation supports, as well as education, referral and advocacy services to parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder. Recreational, social, and summer programming are available to children and adolescents with autism. Adult residential services are available.
Department of Child & Youth - Psychiatry
Psychiatric assessments at the Royal University Hospital for children with autism spectrum disorders in Saskatoon. Physicians' referrals are required.
Phone: (306) 966-7531   Fax: (306) 966-8250 
Community Living Service Delivery  - Ministry of Social Services
Provides respite subsidy and other support to persons with an intellectual disability.
For more information, check your telephone directory under Government of Saskatchewan, Ministry of Social Services - Community Living Service Delivery.
Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECIP) - Ministry of Education
Provides home-based services involving parents of children with disabilities or those who are at risk. May also provide advocacy, case management and transition support to centre based programs. 
For local contact information, visit the Ministry of Education page.
Saskatchewan Association for Community Living 
Located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Association for Community Living provides advocacy, public awareness, and assistance with accessing respite resources and employment for persons with an intellectual disability.
Saskatchewan Association for Community Living Family Network
Provides opportunities for families who live with intellectual disability to connect through phone, e-mail, newsletter, and regional and provincial gatherings.
Intensive Supports for Students in the pre-K to grade 12 Education System - Ministry of Education 
For more information, visit the Ministry of Education page.
Saskatchewan Families for Effective Autism Treatment, Inc.
SASKFEAT provides local representation, support, resources, and advocacy to Saskatchewan families that require medical treatment for individuals with ASD.
 
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5. Additional Information

Speech Language Pathology Services 

Speech language pathology (SLP) services are provided by the Saskatchewan Health Authority. Speech language pathologists are part of the health care team, which also includes occupational therapists, physical therapists, therapist assistants, public health nurses, child psychologists, and others. 

Historically, SLP services have been provided to young children with communication disorders, and adults in rehab centres. More recently, the services have expanded in the larger centres to include services in acute care for individuals with neurological or surgical conditions. 

The goal of SLP is to improve communication by the most appropriate means, including augmentative communication. Typically, SLP services would include assessment, intervention, consultation, prevention and education services.

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