Transitioning to adulthood is an important juncture that often presents challenges for autistic youth and adults. Yet it is a different experience for everyone.
As is the case for many government-funded services, once a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) reaches a certain age, the support available to them changes. In most Canadian provinces, children transition into the adult service program on their 18th birthday, some on their 19th birthday.
Transition planning typically begins between the ages of 12 and 16 years old. Entering adulthood can be stressful, and needing to understand a brand new set of government-funded supports and services can be overwhelming.
This page provides information about the government-funded services and supports available to adults living with ASD. It is organized by province and territory. We are hopeful that a robust understanding of what resources are available – in the transition period and beyond – is helpful to individuals and families.
Please note that the age at which a child becomes eligible for adult resources is different across the country. You will find one separate toolkit for each province and territory.
This page outlines government-funded supports and services available to adults (18 years or older) with autism living in the province of Alberta.
In Alberta, there are two main funding programs available:
- Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH)
- Persons with Developmental Disabilities Program (PDD)
In Alberta, individuals 18 or older with a permanent disability that impacts their ability to earn a living are eligible to receive financial support through a program called Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH).
In order to be eligible to receive AISH, an individual must have a medical condition that is the main factor limiting their ability to earn a living (as opposed to other factors, such as education level).
There are a number of financial criteria that impact an individual’s eligibility for AISH, which can be found here. If you are eligible for AISH you may receive the following benefits, broken down into the following categories:
● a monthly living allowance – money to pay for your living costs such as food, rent and utilities
○ AISH currently provides a maximum monthly living allowance of $1,685 to assist individuals living in the community.
● a monthly child benefit – money to assist you with raising your dependent children
○ See child benefit amounts.
● health benefits – assistance to cover health needs for you, your spouse or partner and your dependent children
● personal benefits – money over and above your monthly living allowance for specific needs such as a special diet or assistance in an emergency
○ Here is a list of specific personal benefits one may receive through AISH.
Applying for AISH
To apply for AISH, follow the step-by-step instructions in Your Guide to Completing the AISH Application.
Read Your Guide to AISH to learn more about benefits, eligibility criteria, and more.
Submit your AISH Application and supporting documents by:
● mailing them to PO Box 17000 Station Main, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4B3;
● faxing them to 1-877-969-3006 (toll free) or 587-469-3006 (Edmonton area);
Another program for Albertan adults living with Autism Spectrum Disorder is the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) Program.
To be eligible for the PDD program, an assessment must be completed that shows that an individual’s disability makes it hard for them to:
● learn and understand things due to an IQ of 70 or lower
● do six or more of the 24 daily living skills listed here without help from another person (includes reading, writing, finding and keeping a job, using emergency services the right way, etc.)
While not all individuals with autism will qualify for PDD support, many do. Those who are deemed eligible will receive a host of personalized supports that will be formulated in conjunction with a designated PDD worker.
An initial meeting between the individual and the PDD worker will discuss outcomes, goals, vision for the future, etc. After this meeting, the PDD worker will create an Outcome Plan, which will inform the next step: the development of an Individual Support Plan.
Individual Support Plan
An individual’s PDD worker meets with them, their support team, and their service providers to create an Individual Support Plan. This plan is finalized within three months from when one begins receiving services.
It describes how the service providers will help the individual reach their goals, including:
● what they want to achieve in the next year
● the ways they will reach these goals
● who will provide support
● how they will know when they have reached their goals
● what to do if the plan needs to change
You may review the PDD resources and publications to learn more about Individual Support Plans.
An eligible individual may access one or more of these services based on their Individual Support Plan:
● home living supports that help them do daily activities like banking, caring for their home, making meals or laundry
● respite services to give their caregiver(s) a break
● community access supports that help them take part in activities so they can learn, develop, relax, have fun or be with others
● employment supports to learn new skills and find and keep a paid job
● short-term support or training to give their caregivers extra help when things are difficult
● specialized supports from experts to help if they have additional needs because of mental illness, behavioural issues, addictions and/or involvement with the law
The key to navigating the PDD program is regular communication with the assigned PDD worker. Depending on one’s situation, supports may come from one or more of these service providers:
● agencies or individuals specializing in help to people with disabilities
● the PDD program
● other provincial programs such as Alberta Aids to Daily Living or Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH)
● community services such as recreation programs.