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    Autism Spectrum: Supports for Children and Youth

    The Ontario Autism Program (OAP) supports families of children and youth on the autism spectrum. Individuals under 18 years of age who live in Ontario and have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by a qualified professional are eligible to receive support for services. OAP offers various needs-based services, including foundational family services, caregiver-mediated early years programs, core clinical services, entry-to-school programs, and urgent response services. Based on your child’s strengths, needs and goals, core clinical services can include applied behaviour analysis (ABA), speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, mental health services including counselling and psychotherapy, technology, program materials or therapy equipment at the recommendation of a regulated professional.

    At Boomerang Health, we strive to provide client-centred services to children, youth and families that align with the objectives listed by OAP. Boomerang Health offers many services, including occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, mental health services, physiotherapy, massage therapy, nutrition, and group therapy programs. OAP support includes these core clinical services and more with the objectives of fostering ongoing learning and development, engaging children, and youth to build skills to actively participate at home, school and in their community, enhancing caregivers’ capacity and improving the quality of life of children and families.

    Learn how Boomerang Health services can support children with ASD and their families:

    Occupational therapists work directly with children and families to enable function and participation in daily tasks and activities. Occupational therapists can support clients in self-care, fine motor skills, including handwriting and dressing, sensory processing, self-regulation, feeding and executive functioning/organizational challenges to improve overall health and well-being.

    Speech-language pathologists work directly with children and families in all areas of communication. Speech-language pathologists can support clients in receptive language, expressive language, articulation, social communication, and play. In older children, speech-language pathologists can also support clients with literacy skills, including reading and writing. Group therapy may facilitate real-world interactions to build social communication and conversational skills.

    Psychologists, social workers, and psychotherapists in our Brain and Mental Health department work with children and families to support various mental health challenges. Challenges with anxiety, depression, inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, disruptive behaviour, and issues with social functioning are commonly addressed. Consultation and support for caregivers are often a part of our intervention.

    Physical therapists work directly with infants, children, adolescents, and their families to achieve goals in a fun and motivating environment. These goals may include gross motor skill acquisition, injury recovery, return to sport, pain-free movement and improved bladder and bowel function. Our physical therapists create customized exercise programs to best suit the needs of their clients and families.

    Massage therapists offer massage therapy for infants, children, and adolescents. They strive to reduce or eliminate pain and discomfort related to orthopaedic and sports-related acute and chronic injuries. Treatments can also produce positive psycho-emotional outcomes and neurological changes. Massage therapists can work with caregivers to provide one-on-one instructional techniques to continue the benefits of massage therapy at home.

    Registered dietitians use expert food and nutrition information knowledge to support children and families with various nutritional concerns. Registered dietitians can assist families with developing healthy eating habits and managing various feeding-related issues, including celiac disease, food allergies, constipation, nutrient deficiencies, picky eating, and other concerns related to complex medical problems.

    At Boomerang Health, we provide a variety of group programs and caregiver workshops addressing challenges with aspects of social thinking, flexibility, self-regulation, conversational skills, and anxiety. Group therapy can be an excellent option for clients who are looking to be part of an environment with other peers who may also be working towards similar goals.

    To learn more about the OAP, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/ontario-autism-program.

    For more information on our services, please visit: https://www.boomeranghealth.com/ or contact us at 905-553-3155.

    About Vanessa Lombardo, MSc.OT., OT Reg. (Ont.)

    Vanessa is an occupational therapist who is passionate about working with babies, children, and teens. She believes in supporting and collaborating with families to address a variety of needs, which is integral to her client-centred approach to care. Vanessa has experience with, and enjoys working on, the following skill areas: fine and gross motor skills, handwriting, social-emotional development, sensory processing, self-regulation, and executive functioning. She is also trained to implement the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Approach to Feeding, and is passionate about supporting clients' and families' feeding goals. Vanessa graduated with a Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy, as well as a Bachelors of Science in Biology, from McMaster University. She is registered and in good standing with the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (OSOT) and is a member of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) and the Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists (OSOT).