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 Ontario.
In Ontario, income and employment support for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder are delivered through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).
The ODSP offers:
● financial assistance to help you and your family with essential living expenses
● benefits for you and your family, including prescription drugs and vision care
● help finding and keeping a job, and advancing your career
The program is administered through the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
Eligibility: Age 18 or older with a disability likely to last a year or more and financial need.
ODSP offers two types of support:
● Income Support
● Employment Support
Financial assistance provided each month to help with the costs of basic needs, like food, clothing and shelter. Income support also includes benefits, like drug coverage and vision care, for clients and their eligible family members.
To qualify for ODSP income support, you must:
● be at least 18 years old
● be an Ontario resident
● be in financial need (defined below) and
● meet the program’s definition of a person with a disability, or be a member of a Prescribed Class (defined below)
Note: If you’re under 18, you can start the application process up to six months before your 18th birthday.
You are considered to be in financial need if the costs of your household’s basic living expenses are more than your household’s income and assets (as determined by your ODSP caseworker).
When you apply for income support, a caseworker will ask you for specific documents that show:
● your household’s housing and shelter-related costs
● any money coming into your household, as well as the value of assets belonging to members of the household
The caseworker will also need your signed consent to disclose and verify personal information. This allows the ODSP office to contact third parties and gather additional information needed to determine your eligibility for income support.
Only a caseworker can decide if you are financially eligible for ODSP, however, you may use the Online Application for Social Assistance to see if you might qualify and to start your application.
Note: If you’re an Ontario Works client, your financial need has already been established. Speak to your caseworker if you want to apply for ODSP income support.
Note: If you are a member of a Prescribed Class, you do not need to complete this part of the application process.
Person with a disability
The program’s definition of a person with a disability is found in the ODSP Act.
Meeting the definition means that:
● you have a substantial mental or physical impairment that is continuous or recurrent, and is expected to last one year or more and
● your impairment directly results in a substantial restriction in your ability to work, care for yourself, or take part in community life and
● your impairment, its duration and restrictions have been verified by an approved health care professional.
To determine whether you meet this definition, your caseworker will give you a Disability Determination Package for you and your health care provider to complete.
Your completed package (along with any supporting information) will be used to determine if you meet the program’s definition of a person with a disability.
Disability Determination Package
The Disability Determination Package is used to collect information about your disability.
The two main parts of the Disability Determination Package must be completed by an approved health care professional. These parts are:
● Health Status Report - collects information about your medical condition, its impairments, restrictions and expected duration, as well as treatments
● Activities of Daily Living Index - collects information about the impact of your impairment on your ability to work, care for yourself and participate in the community.
Health care professionals who are approved to complete both the Health Status Report and Activities of Daily Living Index:
● registered nurses
● psychological associates
● registered nurses in the extended class
Health care professionals who are approved to complete the Activities of Daily Living Index only:
● occupational therapists
● social workers
● speech-language pathologists
Important: You should also ask your health care professional to submit any additional supporting information they may have (e.g. clinical notes, hospital reports, psychological/functional assessments) that helps describe your medical condition and disability, as well as how it affects you.
In addition to the Health Status Report and Activities of Daily Living Index, the Disability Determination Package contains:
● Consent to the Release of Medical Information (for you to sign)
● Self Report (optional)
● Instruction sheet
● Addressed envelope (to submit your completed package)
Once you’ve completed the required pieces of the Disability Determination Package, use the envelope provided to send the package to the ODSP Disability Adjudication Unit.
Specialized ODSP staff—called adjudicators—review your completed Disability Determination Package to determine if you meet the program’s definition of a person with a disability.
Adjudicators have a wide range of education and experience in health care. They include:
● occupational therapists
● social workers
About 25% of Disability Determination Packages received are reviewed within 10 business days.
Complex applications, or applications missing medical information, will take longer to review. A decision on these applications is usually made within 90 business days, once all information is provided.
If you have a disability, ODSP employment supports can help you find and keep a job or advance your career. Community-based service providers across Ontario deliver ODSP employment supports.
To qualify for employment supports, you must:
● be at least 16 years old
● be an Ontario resident
● be legally allowed to work in Canada
● have a substantial physical or mental disability that is expected to last a year or more, and makes it hard for you to find or keep a job.
You don’t have to be receiving income support from ODSP to be eligible for employment supports.
You can print out the application package using the links below, or call/visit your local ODSP office to request a package and get more information about specific services where you live.
The application package contains these forms:
If you are already receiving ODSP income support, you do not need to complete the Verification of Disability/Impairment form.
If you are not receiving ODSP income support, the Verification of Disability/Impairment form must be completed by an approved health care professional who can describe your disability/impairment and explain how it impacts your ability to find and keep work.
You must sign the “Consent to Release Medical Information” section included in this form, before taking it to an approved healthcare professional.
Local ODSP Offices
To find your local office you can either:
● use the Social Assistance Office Finder
● search the list of offices by region