January 2022 Archives

Applying for Autism Services & Funding in Ontario

Recently a friend of mine asked me for advice as his three-year-old daughter was just diagnosed with autism. A couple of years ago he wanted to know about early signs of autism in babies, and I directed him to the Geneva Centre which has a very clear guide to learn the early signs of autism and identify the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching. Now that his daughter has received the diagnosis, he is quite distraught and confused, which is unsurprising as parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder well know, the days after receiving a diagnosis of autism are overwhelming as you try to determine the best course of therapy for your child. You are upset, exhausted, and quickly trying to figure out what to do and what services and funding you can access. The last thing on your mind is how to file your taxes or which forms and certificates you need to apply for credits and benefits.

But there are resources you are entitled to with a diagnosis of autism that you must apply for, and doing so will provide additional funding and support which every special needs family will benefit from. I made him this list of autism services and funding available in Ontario, and thought it would be beneficial to share for others searching for all this information in one place:

Here are the basics for a newly diagnosed family:

DISABILITY TAX CREDIT: REDUCES THE AMOUNT OF INCOME TAX YOU PAY ON YOUR TAXES:

The disability tax credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit that helps persons with disabilities or their supporting persons reduce the amount of income tax they may have to pay. Being eligible for the DTC can open the door to other government programs such as the Child Disability Benefit (see below.) You have to apply for the DTC before you submit your taxes. For more information click here or phone the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281.

CHILD DISABILITY BENEFIT: TAX-FREE MONTHLY BENEFIT

The child disability benefit is a tax-free monthly payment made to families who care for a child under age 18 with a severe and prolonged impairment in physical or mental functions.To get the child disability credit, you must be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (above). To get the DTV, you need a medical practitioner to certify for you Form T2201, the Disability Tax Credit Certificate. (see below.) For more information on the Child Disability Benefit click here or phone the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-8281.

DISABILITY TAX CREDIT CERTIFICATE: FORM T2201

To apply for the Disability Tax Credit, which you need to receive the Child Disability Benefit, you need a doctor to fill out the T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate, which you then send to the Canada Revenue Agency. Click here for that form.

SPECIAL SERVICES AT HOME FUNDING

The Special Services at Home program helps families who are caring for a child with a developmental and/or physical disability. Families will receive a lump sum every year they can use towards paying for special services in or outside your home. You can use this funding to pay for services such as respite support for your family to give yourself a break, or for programs that help your child learn new skills. Click here for info about the Special Services at Home funding, scroll down to the bottom of the page for the application form.

INCONTINENCE SUPPLIES GRANT PROGRAM:

This program is for children and youth between the ages of 3 to 18 years with chronic disabilities (physical or developmental) that result in irreversible incontinence or retention problems lasting longer than six months and requiring the use of incontinence supplies such as diapers, pull-ups or adult diapers like Depends. Keep your receipts as periodically the program will ask you to send them in so they can assess your usage. If you haven't kept your bills and are asked for them, they will give you a period of time to make purchases and collect the receipts. Click here for the info and form for the Easter Seals Ontario Incontinence Supplies Grant Program.

ONE TO ONE SUMMER SUPPORT WORKER REIMBURSEMENT FUND

This fund, provided by Autism Ontario, is intended to help parents pay for a support worker to accompany the child to a camp/program or on community outings. It can also apply to a support/respite worker who is working with your child in your home. The following types of expenses can be approved for reimbursement:

Respite services to support caregivers during the day, evening or weekend, at home or elsewhere (for example, supervision of the child or youth, help with daily living activities or taking child out for an activity); and fees for online or in-person recreational and cultural activities and camp programs that help to promote independence and develop social, communication and life skills (for example sports, arts and music programs, museums, and camps).

You have to apply every year and it's a lottery; you'll be notified if you are chosen and then reimbursed after you submit receipts. Click here for more details.

If I've missed anything you would like to see added to this post, please comment below or e-mail me. Hope this helps. Rosie :)

Concert For Hope 2022 Supporting Mental Health Hosted By Luba Goy

It's a special gift to be able to create amazing art that brings joy to others. On January 24th, you have the opportunity to experience a virtual concert featuring Grammy and Juno awarded musicians and other remarkable artists who have been touched by mental illness. Hosted by the phenomenal Luba Goy, performers include:

Stephen Sitarski - Concert master of Esprit Orchestra & Hamilton Philharmonic debuting a special composition by Frank Horvat entitled 'to Cope and to Manage'

Dr. David Goldbloom, Chief Medical Advisor of CAMH - why we should be hopeful even in uncertain times

High Notes Voices - a choir made up of people touched by mental illness perform 'Lean On Me' with Dan Hill, the Grammy-awarded singer/songwriter of "Sometimes When We Touch"

Ron Korb, Flute - Grammy nominee

Amici Chamber Ensemble, Juno award winners

Lily Frost, singer/songwriter

Marcia Chum-Gibbons, Musician

Giles Tomkins, Baritone

Erika Nielsen, Cello, Author - 'Sound Mind'

Sebastian Hirtenstein, Dancer

Priyana, Singer/Songwriter

Marshal Wang, Pianist

The concert will be streamed on the High Notes Avante Facebook page and the Richmond Hill Performing Arts Centre page. Admission is free but donations via Canada Helps are greatly appreciated and will go towards High Notes Avante's online programs for people touched by mental illness, including the High Notes Voices choir, High Notes Movie Club and High Notes Book club. And if you haven't heard of High Notes Avante and are wondering what these remarkable people do, scroll down and I'll tell you more.

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High Notes Avante is a registered charity that uses artistic expression to raise the image of mental illness, and to inspire, connect and give hope to those touched by mental illness. It strives to relieve conditions associated with mental illness by offering art productions directed towards the alleviation of loneliness and isolation, as well as to reduce the associated stigma, and to promote mental health by providing information from mental health professionals and testimonials from artists, well-known personalities and others who suffer or have suffered from mental illness.

During the lock-down of 2021, HNA produced a very basic first Concert of Hope which earned them a Canada Council for the Arts Digital Now grant to produce this second concert. So don't miss it! Rosie :)

Best No Sugar Snacks for Diabetics

I'm always on the lookout for sugar-free foods because my dad is diabetic. The first product we really went on the hunt for years ago is sugar-free ketchup, because it's a condiment he quite likes but is full of sugar. He ended up learning to make his own, but I always try to pick up tasty and fun sugar-free snacks for him when I see them because they aren't that easy to find. Grocery stores might have an aisle or two of natural products, but the actual selection of truly zero-sugar items is typically pretty small, and that's often the case even in natural food stores. Usually there will be some chocolate bars or protein snacks, but if you check the ingredients the level of sugar isn't actually zero. And if you are diabetic and counting every single gram- what you want to see on that nutrition label is 0 g of sugar. So I was very happy to discover the No Sugar Company on my go-to wellness shopping happy place, House of Wellness. The No Sugar Company offers an excellent selection of no sugar products, and was the first company to make a no sugar keto protein bar. I ordered a few for my dad to try out, and they are delicious. Here is a selection of our favourites:

No Sugar Company Keto Krax Coconut Almond Dark Chocolate Bark

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No Sugar Company Chocolate Mint Flavor Vegan Pure Keto Bars

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No Sugar Company Birthday Cake Flavor Keto Bar

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You can check out the entire selection of No Sugar Company products on House of Wellness, which offers free delivery in the GTA for orders over $35, and over $65 across the rest of Canada. A great option for buying sugar-free products online in Canada. And if you happen to be looking for a low sugar ketchup and aren't inclined to make your own like my dad, House of Wellness offers an excellent option- Nature's Hollow Sugar Free Ketchup- 0 gram of sugar and 2 grams of sugar alcohol. Rosie :)

New Year, New Lockdowns in Ontario

When I took this photo of the message on the Paradise Theatre's marquee a few days before Christmas, I wasn't thinking that just a couple of weeks later we'd be locked down again... students back to remote learning (less than a week after the Ford government insisted in-person classes would start up after only a two-day delay), indoor dining banned, gyms closed, good vibes waning.

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The restrictions of course are meant to slow the rapid spread of the very contagious Omicron variant that is wreaking havoc on our healthcare system- Ontario has paused non-urgent surgeries starting tomorrow to deal with the surge of Covid-19 cases. Ontario is facing staffing shortages in hospitals and health-care workers are pushed beyond their limit... exhausted, broken and under extreme pressure. So despite the difficulties and terrible stresses another lockdown brings (made worse by a provincial government that communicates so poorly) it's in the best interest of our public health and the protection of our health-care workers to stay home if we have the privilege to and reduce the strain on our hospitals. If you need some perspective, this article offers the point of view from nurses who are demoralized and defeated... not a great holiday, or new year, for those working so hard to take care of us. Let's try to take care of them. Rosie :)