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early intervention

Early intervention gives your child the chance to achieve their best.  If you have any concerns about your child's development, do not wait

What does Early Intervention mean?  Early Intervention is providing help to a child as soon as a child starts to show the first signs of autism. Early Intervention inlcudes: speech therapy, parent coaching, behaviour consultation, occupational therapy, behaviour therapy and more.

Signs of Autism

  • Child does not respond to their name or verbal cues 
  • Poor eye contact
  • More interested in 'things' than people
  • Resistance to change, does not transition well from one activity to another
  • Does not speak, speech delayed, lost language or odd speech patterns
  • Repetitive movements
  • Melt-downs, aggressive or self-injurious behaviour
  • Sensory: puts hands over ears to quiet noise, sensitive to clothing, crowds, food textures
  • Does not wave goodbye, point or use gestures to communicate 
  • Selective and limited food preferences
  • Has trouble sleeping

Where to Start 

Contact us at or call us at 613.791.3757.  There's lots of great information on our website too.

If your child isn't meeting the developmental milestones contact the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre (now CHC) Intake at 613.737.0871 ext. 4425 to self-refer. Make sure to ask how long it will be before your child will get an Intake appointment and ask how long the wait-time is for a diagnostic assessment. (Note: OCTC and CHEO amalgamated as of October 2016.)  

Private insurance often covers a psychologist for a diagnosic assessment.  Look at our Info & Resouces page for the names of some private psychologists, pediatrician (OHIP). speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, behavour consultants, etc.  There is a fee for private psychologists.  There is no charge for an OHIP doctor (referral required).  

****New tool for screening your child's communication, behaviour, and/or social development level 

Do the Smart Early Screening for Autism: First Words Project - A new Screening tool for children 9 to 30 months of age* 
Smart Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders (Smart ESAC)
How can you screen for a communication delay in a child who can’t talk yet?
  • Infants and toddlers can be screened for skills that develop before children learn to talk, such as gestures, sounds, and actions with objects used in play.
  • The Smart Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders (Smart ESAC) is a new online screening tool designed as a universal screen based on parent report for children 9 to 30 months of age.
  • You will view a brief video before screening that explains the Smart ESAC and our Parent Portal.
All families screened with the Smart ESAC will have access to your child’s results and much more on our Parent Portal.
  • Free access to the Social Communication Growth Charts.
  • Screening reports & invitations to rescreen every 3-6 months.
  • Links to resources in our Seamless Path for Families tailored to screening results.
  • Monthly online check-ins to monitor next steps for your child.
  • Invite your doctor or other service providers to view your portal to help build your care team to support you and your child.
  • If your child’s screening result shows a risk for autism, you will be invited to Autism Navigator courses and tools. 
The Smart Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders (Smart ESAC) can be found at 
This screening tool is free to use.  The tool is for children 9 to 30 months regardless if they have any words or not. 
If your child is between 9 and 18 months, First Words Project invite you to participate in their research and have your child screened with the Smart ESAC tool.  
The sooner you have your child assessed, the sooner you will know what to do to help your child (autism or not). 

Private ABA service providers are listed under Therapies/Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA).

Speak with an Infant Development Worker at one of the Early Year's Centres drop in play groups.  You can also contact First Words and ask for an appointment.  Click here for more information.

Our Next Steps videos are available on our YouTube Channel.  These videos are from a workshop that we filmed and are broken down into short viewing segments.  QuickStart Autism.

Ottawa Autism Roadmap

If an autism diagnosis is given, contact the CHEO Autism Program at 613.249.9355 to register your child for the new Ontario Autism Program right away.  The wait-list is long and you'll want your child registered as soon as possible.  Once your child is registered at CHEO, you have access to the Momentum program.  This program offers generalized workshops while you wait.

Staying Organized:

We highly recommend you get a binder with tabs to help keep all the information straight.  Always ask for the person's name and phone number, which organization they are with and what you can expect to happen at the appointment.  When being offered services, ask how long the wait-time is, what the service will look like (for example with speech therapy, how many sessions will your child receive and how long will each session be). Have your questions ready when you do connect with people. 


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