Family support and respite services for autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

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Provides information about the resources available for family support and respite when a child in the family has autism spectrum disorder.

Key points

  • Agencies that provide support services to families and people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) include support groups, referrals to community services, and respite services.
  • You may need the help of a service coordinator to find respite services.

This section includes information about agencies that provide support services to families and people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Support services to families and people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can refer to support groups, referrals to community resources, and respite services. Respite means temporary relief from the physical and emotional demands of caring for your child with ASD. You may be able to find respite services on your own or you may need the help of a service coordinator. Service coordinators are available through many agencies such as Surrey Place Centre, Community Living Toronto, Family Service Association, Community Care Access Centre, and Kerry’s Place.

Other types of family support such as: groups, counselling, and case coordination, can be accessed through agencies listed in the Multi-Service Agencies page.

Asperger’s Society of Ontario

The Asperger’s Society of Ontario provides support to individuals with Asperger syndrome (AS) and their families. Services include: referral to community services, workshops, school support, and consultation. In addition, they run social skills support groups for children eight to 14 years of age. Parents meet for support with each other at the same time.

For more information, visit

Autism Ontario

Autism Ontario is dedicated to increasing public awareness about autism and the day-to-day issues faced by people with ASD and their families. People of all ages with ASD or Asperger syndrome, and their families, can access Autism Ontario. They provide information and education, and support research. They also advocate for programs and services for the ASD community. There are various chapters throughout Ontario. These can be found on the Autism Ontario website.

The Realize Community Potential (RCP) Program is designed to directly support families of children with ASD. A highly skilled clinical professional will work with families in communities across the province. This professional is identified as the RCP Coordinator and can be reached by contacting the chapters in York Region, Durham, Niagara, London, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, and Windsor.

For more information, visit


Extend-A-Family helps build meaningful relationships and works to include families in their communities. Extend-A-Family runs “Community Support Groups” for parents of children with special needs. Groups run out of various locations around Toronto. Children from birth to 17 years of age with developmental disabilities including ASD can use this service.

For more information, visit

MacAulay Child Development Centre

This centre provides child care and family support which includes: home and centre-based integrated child care programs, family resource programs, consultation to child care programs, speech language services, and home visiting. MacAulay Child Development Centre supports families and children in west Toronto. Licensed child care service is provided to children 12 years of age and younger. Home visiting/family resource programs and Early Years Centres are for children six years of age and under.

For more information, visit

Woodgreen Community: Parent Outreach Program (POP)

The Parent Outreach Program (POP) provides in-home parent to parent support and teaching for parents of children and youth who have a developmental disability.

For more information, visit

“Special Needs” Planning Group

This organization is made up of parents of children with disabilities. They offer, free of charge, guidance about issues related to the financial planning necessary for your child with special needs. These include wills, Henson Trusts, and Powers of Attorney. They can assist with questions about current financial issues while your child is young, as well as financial issues related to your child’s future.

For more information, visit helps families develop a respite care plan. Respite care can happen in two ways: in your home or out of your home. When respite care is provided in your home, a caregiver comes into your house to care for your child. This can give you time to do other things such as spending time with a sibling, house cleaning, banking, and shopping. Respite care outside your home means that your child is cared for temporarily in another setting such as a residence, group home, or camp. offers two programs to families who have a child with ASD:

  • The respite program helps to find respite care for your child.
  • The Community Helpers for Active Participation (CHAP) program helps you to find a qualified worker who you can hire to support your child with ASD.

Children of any age with a developmental or physical disability are eligible. Special Services at Home (SSAH) funding can be used to pay for a CHAP worker.

For more information, visit In addition, will assist families in completing SSAH and ACSD applications (see Financial Support Services page).

Last updated: March 9th 2009