Toronto has many programming options designed for children with special needs. The following are some excellent resources when searching for programs that are inclusive of or designed for kids with autism-spectrum disorder (ASD) as well as other developmental or behavioural disorders, and that can help students develop and improve social skills, stay active, and build friendships and community.
Programs with Toronto Parks and Rec are a great, affordable option for parents looking for inclusive and accessible after-school programs for their kids with special needs. These recreation programs are available at many community centres across the city, and there are no fees at some centres—the York Recreation Centre, for example.
City of Toronto after-school programs are for children 6–12 years old and children with special needs participate in these programs based on their abilities. Parents can get information on how their child will participate and be supported by calling the After-school recreation staff at 416-338-1351 or via email to ARCA&I@toronto.ca.
With eight clubs in the Toronto area, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Ontario offer a variety of after school drop-in programs for children ages 4–18 and is inclusive of children with special needs and disabilities. The Boys and Girls Club of East Scarborough Special Needs Consultation and Coordination Program helps parents find child care programs that will support their child’s special needs and provide ongoing consultation to the program staff to ensure a supportive and inclusive experience. For more information call (416) 281-0262 ext. 203 and 204.
The Grandravine Tornadoes is a hockey club for people with developmental disabilities ages 6 to 60. Players do not have to know how to skate or play hockey to join. The Skills Development Program helps beginners learn to skate and the basics of the game. The program runs for 26 weeks beginning in the fall, and players participate in games with nearby teams and the Annual Special Hockey International tournament. The Grandravine Arena is an accessible facility and a registration fee applies, but the club, a registered Canadian charity, will not turn anyone away based on financial reasons. Programming takes place at the Grandravine Community Centre, 23 Grandravine, North York. For more information call 416-245-7601 or e-mail info@TorontoSledgeHockey.com.
Scouts Canada’s programs are inclusive of children with special needs. The SCOUTSabout program is for kids ages 5–11 and focuses on structured play, outdoor activities and crafts. It is based on the Scouts mission of learning by doing. It runs once a week at school facilities during lunch and after school in three month modules. For information on the SCOUTSabout program in your area contact Program Coordinator Abby Chan at 416-993-4161 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to explore more options for programs that are supportive and inclusive of special needs children, browse this list of agencies that provide access to specialized services.