Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Letter to Shawn Graham, Liberal Leader

Shawn Graham

Leader, Liberal Party NB

Dear Mr. Graham.

I wish to express my serious reservations with your party’s announcement that it will implement all recommendations in the MacKay Report and will follow the timelines set out therein as well. Following the MacKay recommendations for a provincial autism strategy will set back the education of autistic children to a level not seen in several years and will cause many severely autistic children the opportunity to receive a real education.

The Department of Education and the Autism Society New Brunswick have been engaged in an ongoing dialogue in various forums over the past 6 years. As a result, right now 80 Teacher Assistants and 9 Methods and Resource Teachers are being trained at the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention course; the TA’s as Autism Support Workers and the M&R teachers as Clinical Supervisors. The UNB-CEL course was developed with input by ASNB and it has already won recognition across Canada for training pre-school autism workers. With approximately 1000 autistic students in NB schools we need to expand the numbers trained by 4-500 hundred.

The MacKay recommendations make no mention of the UNB-CEL autism training. Nor does it reflect the urgent need to train autistic children. Instead the MacKay report proposes delay in the form of development of a provincial autism strategy which will take 2-3 years just to develop the strategy and further time to implement. Autistic children do not have the luxury of such delay. The delivery of autism services in New Brunswick has been studied for too long. It is long past time that autistic children began receiving a real education. Use your good judgment in implementing MacKay and trust the made in New Brunswick solution which is already under way. Commit to expanding the number of TA’s and Resource teachers, already working with autistic students, at the UNB-CEL.


Harold L. Doherty

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