Monday, September 15, 2014

Today I Voted For My Autistic Son's Future; Today I Voted NDP

Conor 18 1/2 with severe autism disorder, profound developmental delay, 
seizures, sensory issues and self aggressive behavior.  Few, if any group home 
staff would be able or inclined to provide the care he needs, A residential care and
treatment facility for Conor and other severely autistic adults with complex needs
has long been needed in New Brunswick.  In this election only the NDP have
committed to providing an autistic center to provide the care needed by 
severely autistic adults in NB; today I voted NDP.

We have long needed an autism center to provide long term residential care and treatment to severely autistic adults. A center could also provide expertise for guidance and supervision of a system of adult autism group homes with trained staff.  I have written on this blog many times over the years of the severely autistic adults who have been sent to a variety of locations the Restigouche (Campbellton) Psychiatric Hospital, hospital wards and foreign and out of province facilities like Spurwink in Maine.  It is not about money, considerable sums have been spent sending severely autistic adults far from family.   Out of sight, out of mind has ruled provincial decision making on the care of severely autistic adults. 

The road ahead will not be any easier than the road behind but change has to begin with a first step and the NDP have provided that first step in the NDP Election 2014 platform:


We will establish a provincial centre for the care of adults with autism."

The experts say that the Liberal Party has more voter support than the second place Conservatives with the NDP a distant third.  I voted NDP anyway.  My vote was not an attempt to be on the winning side or to elect a particular party to form the government.   I voted for the New NDP today on the basis of its commitment to establish a provincial centre for the care of adults with autism.  The  New NDP is the ONLY party to make that commitment and I voted for that commitment.  

I recognize that the experts are probably right, that the Liberals ... or if the winds shift ... the PCs ... will probably ... once again form the government.  I would like to see Dominic Cardy, Kelly Lamrock, Brian Duplessis, Charles Doucet and some other NDP MLA candidates elected.

New Brunswick's New NDP does, in my opinion, have a strong team, starting with its leader Dominic Cardy who has been very impressive in the debates  but I voted for the New NDP because it is the party which is starting the serious discussion that is needed to provide a future for my son.  I am happy they did.  

I voted for my severely autistic son's future today.  I voted for Conor.  I voted NDP.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Autism and the Liberal Party 2014 Election Platform: Nothing on Autism - No Adult Autism Care Centre

The Liberal platform is published and there are no commitments to address autism issues, no mention of autism disorders.  In particular there is no mention of any intention to change the current system of adult autism care from generic group homes lacking autism trained staff, hospital wards, the Regional (in fact the only) tertiary care psychiatric hospital in New Brunswick and export out of province and country to Spurwink (Maine) facility.  In the long run the continued neglect of the needs of severely autistic adults in NB will continue to  reduce the their quality of life and cost New Brunswick money ($300,000-$500,000 per year per person).   The Liberal Party may well Move New Brunswick Forward but for severely autistic adults there will be no forward movement under the Liberal banner.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Autism and the PC Election 2014 Platform: No Adult Autism Care, More Harmful Forced Classroom Inclusion of Severely Autistic Students

The PC Plan for New Brunswick does not include any provisions that will help severely autistic students or adults, the same people who have been harmed by PC policies during the Alward-Porter-Carr administration.  In fact the the Platform brags about the Gordon Porter-Jody Carr harmful, discriminatory, inclusion remake and is silent on the topic of adult autism care. 

Gordon Porter was a member of the Alward government transition team.  He has relentlessly pushed his own  non evidence based inclusion philosophy on all NB students since the 1970's and he has collected many ribbons around the world for doing so but I am quite sure that various world authorities are not told of the harm caused by his simple (his word) inclusion philosophy.  Under David Alward's government he worked with Education Minister Jody Carr (who seldom speaks without mentioning inclusion several dozen times) to put more and more pressure to place all kids in the regular classroom, to reduce the range of learning environments necessary to ensure full accommodation for all students.

The picture by Diane Crocker above and accompanying quotes are from the Newfoundland paper the Western Star article, "Inclusion in the classroom ‘simple,’ says educator", with highlighting added by me for emphasis:

"CORNER BROOK — Gordon Porter believes inclusion is the most natural thing in the world. The educator and director of Inclusive Education Initiatives presented a session on inclusive education at the Greenwood Inn and Suites on Thursday. Porter, who is also the editor of the Inclusive Education Canada website inclusive, spoke to parents, educators and agency professionals who deal with children with special needs at the pre-conference for the Newfoundland and Labrador Association for Community Living Conference taking place in the city today and Saturday. The session was sponsored by the Community Inclusion Initiative. Porter’s session revolved around the theme of parents and teachers working together to make inclusion work.“It means kids go to their neighbourhood schools with kids their own age in regular classes,” said Porter.“If you’re seven years, old you go to the school just down the street. You go in a class with other seven-year-olds, and you’re supported if you have extra needs. “It’s so simple, it’s that simple,” said Porter."

Some kids with autism can function well in a regular classroom, some can not.  Some, including my son suffer from sensory challenges resulting in many instances in self injurious behavior.  Putting some with autism disorders, particularly severe autism, in the regular classroom can result in them being overwhelmed and hurting themselves as my son did by biting his hands and wrists and hitting his head forcefully until he was removed from the inclusive classroom.  Mr Porter and his disciples Alward and Carr like to gather ribbons and brag about inclusion.  None of them accept responsibility for the harm they cause some students overwhelmed by the regular classroom, including those who are sent home after 911 calls, with police, fire and ambulance responders present and subsequently charged with assault.  If anyone wants to know how I know this I can not give you the statistics which they do not publish but as a lawyer I have represented some of those children.

As with reduction of learning placement options to accommodate children with serious neurological and learning disorders so too with respect to adult care.  The Alward-Carr team loves to talk, and talk, and talk about community. They even created a new department to enshrine the word community in a department title.  It is not clear what that department does but neither it nor any one else in the Alward government provides autism staff trained group homes or an enhanced autism facility in Fredericton with autism expertise to provide permanent residential care and treatment for severely autistic adults.  As a result the great "community" government continues to send autistic adults to the psychiatric hospital in Campbellton on NB's northern border with Quebec, far from the greatest number of families in the south. 

The PC election platform has nothing of value for autistic children or adults. It simply continues the oppressive and ill informed philosophies of the Alward-Porter-Carr administration.

Everyone must make up their own minds.  This father of a severely autistic son says NO! to the misguided philosophies of Alward-Porter-Carr.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Autism and the NDP 2014 Election Platform: A Centre for Adult Autism Care

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy at the NDP 2014 Election Platform launch today at their campaign HQ's on Regent St.   As with each political party platform I immediately search out autism specific commitments or comments and the NDP have made a specific comment in a very neglected area in NB - adult autism care:


We will establish a provincial centre for the care of adults with autism.

A provincial centre for the care of adults with autism would fill a huge gap in our autism services in New Brunswick.  At present adults with autism at best can hope for care in a Level 4 group home where they may encounter difficulties with untrained staff who can not deal properly with the complex challenges of autism care.  The commitment to a centre while a huge step forward in the public discussion of autism care being the first serious mention of an adult centre for autistic adults does not indicate the quality of care to be provided eg. autism trained staff, autism appropriate professional oversight including medical attention for frequent comorbid conditions such as seizures, serious self aggression, wandering and security issues and adult education and recreation.  Nor does it address the always contentious issue ... the undeniable reality that some severely autistic adults will require permanent residential care and treatment.  The commitment however is a major step forward and it is difficult to expect more specifics in an election platform covering all aspects of life in the  province of New Brunswick. 

I enjoyed meeting and talking with Brian Duplessis, below, the NDP candidate in the riding of Fredericton North where I live.  The fact is most politicians or workers in political organizations have little real world experience with autism, fewer still with severe autism with intellectual disability a huge component of the autism spectrum.  Brian Duplessis however, has a family member with severe autism and he was already fully informed about the challenges facing persons with severe autism including adults and their families.  It was refreshing to discuss autism challenges with someone with close personal knowledge of those challenges.