Ministry of Education Report Regarding ABA at School Pilot Project

  • November 9, 2020
  • Amanda Dimilta

In 2017, the Ministry of Education (“MOE”) created what was intended to be a 1-year pilot project for the 2017-18 school year titled “Pilot to Improve School-Based Supports for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder”. You can read about the initiative here.

The pilot included two main initiatives:

  1. Targeted Education Assistant (EA) training delivered by the Geneva Centre for Autism; and
  2. Dedicated space within schools for external Applied Behavioural Analysis (“ABA”) practitioners to deliver direct service to students with ASD under the supervision of Board Certified Behaviour Analysts (“BCBAs”).

The purpose of the pilot was to provide integrated service delivery for school-aged children and youth. It provided a way for students requiring comprehensive ABA to access those supports alongside their education, rather than having to choose between ABA and their education and split their time in separate locations. In essence, the pilot took PPM 140, which directs school boards to incorporate basic ABA methods into academic programming, a big step further.

A commissioned report outlining the design, implementation, and outcome of the pilot was completed in July 2019, but not made available to the public. The 129-page report, “Pilot to Improve School-Based Supports for Students with Autism”, which you can read here, outlines the success of the pilot, which still continues today. The report states that ABA is being successfully delivered to students in Ontario schools not just in the same building, but in some schools, right in the classroom.

This pilot project means that students with autism who require comprehensive ABA to access their education can have this accommodation provided in the classroom. This enables them to learn alongside their peers. Bakerlaw and parents have fought together to secure such accommodations in the past. You can read about one such case here. While school boards have previously fought against providing these accommodations, arguing in some instances it was not possible to deliver such accommodations in the school setting, this report demonstrates that not only is it possible, but it is beneficial to educators and students alike.

The report recommends an on-going expansion of the pilot, notwithstanding the challenges of hiring and retaining enough BCBAs to oversee the ABA programming. While funding is stated as an obstacle, the Behaviour Expertise Amount (“BEA”) funding provided by the MOE to school boards in Ontario is allocated for exactly that purpose. You can read more about the BEA amount in the MOE’s “A Guide to the Special Education Grant” (2020-21) at p. 9 here, as well as in this bakerlaw resource here.

At bakerlaw, we advocate for students who require ABA in order to have meaningful access to their education. Please contact us to find out how we can help. If you’d like to retain us to assist with your own or your child’s education accommodation please fill out our confidential intake form here.

Author: Amanda Dimilta

Amanda’s practice at bakerlaw focuses on cases in the area of Education Law and applications to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Her personal experience with navigating the challenges of the education system is an asset to our clients, and we are happy to have her as a member of the bakerlaw team.

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