Ontario Autism Program Caregiver-Mediated Early Years

As part of the changes to the Ontario Autism Program (OAP), all children who are 12 to 48 months (4 years) old and registered in the OAP are eligible and will be invited to participate in caregiver-mediated early years programs for free. Connections Early Years Family Centre, Children First and John McGivney Children’s Centre make up the three service agencies selected to deliver caregiver-mediated early years programs in Windsor-Essex.

In partnership, the Caregiver-Mediated Early Years programs help young children learn new skills and meet individual goals. All programs are play-based, child-led and developmentally appropriate. Programs are free of charge and available for a period of up to six months per child.

Through these programs, you will learn therapeutic strategies and specific techniques from professionals based on your child’s individual needs. The programs aim to build your capacity to support your child’s skill development in:

  • Social interaction
  • Play
  • Communication
  • Emotional development
  • Adaptive development and self-help skills

Once you receive an invitation from the Ministry of Children, Community & Social Services, visit to learn more about the service and other opportunities available to you.

In the West region, Connections, Children First and John McGivney Children’s Centre will be offering a choice of three Caregiver-Mediated Early Years programs to families in Windsor-Essex. Our team will be providing Social ABCs, Project IMPact and the PLAY Project as options for families. Service is available in English and French. Translation services for other languages will be available as needed. Online/virtual programs for families located anywhere in Ontario as space allows.

If you have questions about the programs OR have received an invitation letter and would like to register, email or call 519-250-1850.

Social ABCs

Provider: Connections Early Years Family Centre

Age range: 12 to 42 months

Type of program:  Individual parent coaching sessions

Location: Virtual or in-person at Connections Early Years Family Centre

Duration: 12 weeks

Visits: Individual parent-child coaching sessions ranging from 1 – 3 times per week.

About Social ABCs

Social ABCs is an evidence-based, caregiver-mediated intervention for toddlers who have social communication difficulties. It is based on a combination of developmental and behavioural principles and focuses on improving a toddler’s use of vocalizations to communicate and share positive emotions with others.

Opportunities for teaching and learning come from the toddler’s natural interests during playtime and day-to-day caregiving routines. Parents or other primary caregivers work with a trained Social ABCs coach to learn the intervention strategies in their child’s natural environment, using play-based activities and daily routines that their child finds most motivating.

Project ImPACT

Provider: Children First

Age range: 12 to 48 months

Type of program: Individual and group coaching

Location: Virtual or in-person at home or in the clinic

Duration: 12 weeks

Visits: Each visit is 60 to 90-minutes in length, between 1 and 2 visits per week.

About Project ImPACT

The Project ImPACT (Improving Parents as Communication Teachers) program is aimed at parents and their young children with a diagnosis of autism, to increase social communication, imitation and play skills throughout daily routines. Parents are experts on their child and are coached by highly qualified professionals. Together, parents and the trainer develop priority goals and activities to support the child’s learning throughout the day.

Project ImPACT uses a combination of developmental and behavioural strategies to increase social-communication skills in four main areas: social engagement, language, social imitation, and play.

The PLAY Project

Provider: John McGivney Children’s Centre

Age range: 12 to 48 months

Type of program: Individual

Location: Virtual or in-person at home or in the community

Duration: 6 months

Visits: Each visit is 1 to 3 hours in length, between 2 and 4 visits per month.

About The PLAY Project

The PLAY Project is an evidence-based, playful, practical, parent-implemented program that supports the development of social interaction, communication, play and pre-academic skills in children on the autism spectrum.

This program is appropriate for children up to 48 months of age who are communicating at a variety of levels, from no words up to and including sentences. The PLAY Project is designed for children at all levels of need. It is developmentally appropriate and fun, with strategies that can be easily used in a family’s daily activities.

Guide for Service Providers:

If you are a Service Provider, click here for a guide with information on how you can help support families.