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Mission Objectives

3. Increasing early childhood screening and timely interventions

Research shows that early screening and timely intervention can improve a child’s overall development and future outcomes. Autism can reliably be diagnosed by age 2, but the average age of diagnosis in Canada is about 4.5 years old.1 Increasing early screening and lowering the age of diagnosis, especially in minority populations, is central to Autism Speaks Canada’s mission. We collaborate with leaders in the field to ensure sustainable and effective autism service delivery.

Key Programs

Family Services Community Grants

We launch grants each April to autism service providers to increase their capacity and to effectively serve the autism community in Canada. Grants are selected through a rigorous review process, through a community panel of autistic individuals, family members, friends, service providers and research experts across Canada. Since 2010, we have granted $5 million to over 300 organizations across Canada. Research shows when intervention begins at a young age, communication and social skills improve for many children. Approximately 14% of these grants help support our mission objective of increasing early childhood screening and timely interventions.

M-CHAT free screening test

Free access to the M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers™) screening test is available. This online autism screening test takes only a few minutes to complete and helps determine if a professional should evaluate your child. Over 10,000 people have used this screening tool from our website to date.

Caregiver Skill Training

The World Health Organization Caregivers Skills Training – developed in collaboration with Autism Speaks – is a practical and culturally adaptable training program to foster the social and communication skills of children with autism and other developmental issues, with a special focus on families in underserved communities.

The program trains Master Trainers and Facilitators, who in turn train parents and other caregivers to use scientifically proven strategies for promoting child development, reducing disruptive behaviors and strengthening their own coping skills. In 2017, Caregiver Skills Training debuted in the United States, with a Master Trainer workshop to train specialists who will pilot the program. Based on the results and refinements of this and other pilot studies around the world, Autism Speaks Canada partnered with McGill University on the Caregiver Skills Training Program to empower parents and caregivers with evidence-based skills training in Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon for children with autism.

Annual Highlights

Provided access to the M-CHAT-R online risk assessment screening tool, utilized by over 2,500 Canadians this year.
With funding from the Public Agency of Canada (PHAC), we partnered with McGill University on the Caregivers Skills Training Program which included training for five rural and remote service organizations from our Canadian Rural and Remote Network.
Funded $40,000 in the Family Services Community Grants to SAAAC Autism Centre’s Mobile Developmental Outreach Clinic. The clinic provides early detection and diagnosis of autism that is responsive to the needs of culturally diverse communities. The project’s goal is decreasing the diagnosis age and allowing access to early interventions more quickly. Mobile Developmental Outreach Clinic has provided early screening, diagnostics, and family support to over 108 families in a year.

Stories From Our Community

Learn about the amazing progress being made through programs as it relates to early childhood screening and interventions.

Mobile Developmental Outreach Clinic

Caregiver Skill Training Program

Family Services Community Grants