Thursday, August 20, 2009

Answer from Ministry of Education to my McGuinty letter

I received this answer to my letter to Dalton McGuinty. It is not from the Premier himself. He can delegate. It is from Ministry of Education.
Here is my letter
Here it is the answer.
Feel free to comment:
Dear Ms. Bunda,

Thank you for your e-mail to the Honourable Dalton McGuinty in which you shared concerns about your son, Sebastian, who has autism. The Premier has forwarded your letter to the Minister of Education, the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, and I am pleased to respond on the Minister’s behalf.

As I indicated in my previous letter, the Ministry of Education works hard to improve the learning environment for students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), by building capacity in publicly-funded schools to meet their learning needs. All our initiatives supporting students with ASD are developed and implemented in response to recommendations of the Ministers’ Autism Spectrum Disorders Reference Group.

The Ministers’ Autism Spectrum Disorders Reference Group was created by the Minister of Education and the Minister of Children and Youth Services to provide both ministers with advice on effective, evidence-based educational practices to meet the wide range of needs of students with ASD. It included parents, researchers, educators, and autism experts. The reference group identified three areas as priorities for action crucial to making a difference to meet the wide range of needs of students with ASD: student learning and assessment; research and knowledge mobilization; and partnerships and shared responsibility. The reference group’s final report, Making a Difference for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders in Ontario Schools: From Evidence to Action, included 34 recommendations. It was released in 2007 and is posted on the government’s website in English and French. You may access the report at:

Let me provide you with one example of an initiative supporting students with autism that you may find relevant to the transition of your son, Sebastian, to a school setting. One of recommendations of the Ministers’ Autism Spectrum Disorders Reference Group included: “Key transitions for students with ASD are supported. This would include the provision of:
· Resources such as funding and personnel with expertise to facilitate transitions.
· Protocols that reflect consistent expectations between organizations across the province.
· Processes that involve a multi-disciplinary team for planning, support and information.”

In response to this recommendation, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) are working collaboratively to implement the Connections for Students model. The Connections for Students is a joint strategy to support school-aged children transitioning from intensive behavioural intervention (IBI) therapy services delivered through the Autism Intervention Program (AIP) funded by MCYS to ABA instructional methods in publicly funded schools. The Connections for Students model is centred on multi-disciplinary, student-specific, school-based transition teams that are established approximately six months before a child prepares to transition from the AIP to school. Transition teams develop transition plans tailored to the specific support needs of individual students and provide support for at least six months after a child starts school.

Transition teams include the Principal or designate (Team Lead), parent/guardian, teacher(s), the School Support Program ASD Consultant and a school board person with ABA expertise as required. These teams may be supplemented by other multi-disciplinary expertise based on the child’s needs. Other multi-disciplinary expertise may include: education assistants, special education resource teachers, and other professionals providing service to the child (e.g. mental health service providers, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists). Transition teams will draw on the ABA and ASD expertise of both board level staff and ASD Consultants in the School Support Program in the planning and delivery of ABA instructional methods.

After six months, the principal, parent/guardian and teacher will continue to work together to monitor the student’s progress at key transition points in order to provide appropriate supports. The principal must ensure that relevant school board personnel and community personnel who have previously worked and/or are currently working with a student with ASD are invited to provide input.

School boards throughout the province are expected to implement the Connections for Students transition teams no later than spring 2010 for all children transitioning from IBI therapy services provided through the MCYS funded AIP to ABA instructional methods in our publicly funded schools in September 2010 and thereafter.

Sixteen boards received funding to implement the Connections for Students model this year. In collaboration with all nine AIP regional providers the boards are implementing the model for all students transitioning from IBI services delivered by the AIP to ABA instructional methods in school. These boards are working with an evaluator to monitor and share their experience and best practices that support successful outcomes for students with ASD, their families, and for the system. The ministry expects to share their promising practices for the benefit of all school boards as they continue to evolve their supports for students with ASD and build their capacity.

Please be assured that we are committed to improving student achievement for all students, including those with ASD.


Teckla Bryson for
Barry Finlay
Special Education Policy and Program Branch
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  1. I think there is a reason they send you these loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong boring letters full of abbreviations and names of various million organisations they have set up to do this and that. End result - not much gets done at the receivers end.

    I think the reason for this wordy letter is maybe the more words = the more we are doing to help you. Look how many words are in our letter.

  2. Hi Maryna,

    You will understand when I say that this letter is the same thing as a "Potemkin Village", all show with nothing behind it. Your experience with your school is the reality, not the pretty fantasy concocted by the bureaucrats in the Ministry who have probably not been in a school in twenty years much less seen a child with autism.