Where Are the Children? Deconstructing the Ontario Autism Program

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Abneet ATWAL, Ryerson University, Canada
The Ontario Autism Program (OAP) provides behavioural supports and services to autistic children and youth, and their families. This study applied a critical discourse analysis (CDA) to examine the OAP policy documents using a children’s rights framework. The purpose of the study was to examine how autistic children’s rights are respected in the OAP policy documents. A CDA of the documents led to three key findings: the difference in roles of different social groups, quantifying and classifying autistic children, and the one size fits all approach in the program. The three themes present in the OAP policy documents are power and dominance, ideologies of childhood, and the medical model. The ways in which children are presented suggests that children’s rights are being neglected. The paper concludes with recommendations for how clinicians can facilitate children’s participation when implementing the program and changes required in the policy documents to incorporate a children’s rights framework.