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DCAFS Expands Services

January 18, 2013 permalink

Dufferin CAS is expanding services to autistic children. We regret to remind you that "services" means more police cars will be roaming Dufferin to pick up prospects.



DCAFS to expand services for autistic children

Dufferin Child and Family Services (DCAFS) has acquired the services of eight qualified professionals to help children with various levels of autism.

The coordinator and seven staff members have joined DCAFS from ErinoakKids, which services close to 13,000 children with disabilities and their families in Ontario each year.

The province, through ErinoakKids, will fund their addition to DCAFS.

DCAFS executive director Trish Keachie sees the service, in place since Jan. 1, as “a great addition to our agency” that is both beneficial and sensible.

“We offer all other children’s services, so this is a way to be more streamlined. It helps make children’s services easier for parents to navigate.”

Autism, a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, is prevalent to the point where it is present in between one and two people per 1,000, worldwide.

It has become more ingrained in the human conscience and there is a debate as to whether the number of affected children is actually on the rise, or that diagnosis and identification of autism has improved.

“Most experts say it’s a bit of both,” said Ms. Keachie. “Kids are being diagnosed, where they might not have been before. There are also indications that it could be on the rise.”

The exact cause of autism remains unknown. Although some research suggests the cause could be based in genetics, brain imaging techniques have not identified a clear common pathology. The main method of management is behavioral therapy, focusing on specific deficits to address poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness.

There are several levels of severity.

Asperger syndrome is closest to autism in signs and likely causes but, unlike other forms of autism, people with Asperger syndrome have no substantial delay in language development.

Pervasive developmental disorder, PDD, is also on the autism spectrum. Its diagnosis is often applied when children exhibit severe and pervasive impairment in the development of reciprocal social interaction or verbal and nonverbal communication skills, for example.

Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder share several signs with autism, but may have unrelated causes.

Ms. Keachie pointed out that the level of therapy varies, as well.

Intensive behaviour therapy is applied to the more severe cases and can involve oneon one sessions that can total up to 20 hours per week.

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) involves therapists working with one or more less affected children and the sessions tend to total about two to four hours a week for a duration of about 12 weeks.

“To facilitate this transition, the ErinoakKids staff members who delivered IBI and ABA-based services in Dufferin have transferred to DCAFS,” explained Bridget Fewtrell, President and CEO of ErinoakKids. “By integrating service delivery in this way, we can offer the best for the children through the optimal use of professional staff at the local level.”

ErinoakKids works in close collaborative partnerships with agencies across the Central West Region to capitalize on local expertise while ensuring equitable access to services across the region.

“This is wonderful news for children and families,” said Ms. Keachie. “Dufferin Child and Family Services already provides a wide range of services to children and families, and the addition of the IBI and ABA autism services to our programs will support good seamless service to families.”

Intensive Behavioural Intervention and Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)-based services help children with autism build socially important behaviours while reducing problematic ones. ErinoakKids staff who delivered these services in Dufferin were already co-located with DCAFS at École Élémentaire des Quatre-Rivières at 60 Century Drive in Orangeville.

The transition of local autism service delivery to DCAFS was described in a press release as following the addition by ErinoakKids last September of clinical services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy in Dufferin County.

Members of the public are invited to attend a Dufferin Child and Family Services Open House at École Élémentaire des Quatre Rivières on Tuesday, January 22nd from 3 to 6 p.m. to meet the staff team and tour the facility.

ErinoakKids Centre for Treatment and Development is Ontario’s largest children’s treatment centre, serving almost 13,000 children and youth annually who have physical and developmental disabilities, autism, and communication disorders as well as children who are deaf or blind. Our mission is to help our clients achieve optimal levels of independence, learning, health and wellbeing. Serving Halton, Peel, Dufferin — and, for some services, Waterloo and Wellington — ErinoakKids has 650 staff and nine sites from which we provide a comprehensive array of assessment, medical, therapy and support services that help children and their families.

In 2011 the Ministry of Children and Youth Services approved a redevelopment project to enable ErinoakKids to consolidate its current facilities into three larger sites which will be ideally situated for easy access within our catchment area, and designed specifically for the care of children and youth with special needs. The new facilities are expected to open in 2017. For more information about ErinoakKids visit

Source: Orangeville Citizen