If you think it is easy to get changes made in public policy, that it is easy to get government to move and do something for the benefit of children, for vulnerable disadvantaged children, take a look at this excerpt from a letter I posted to the ASNB newsgroup on November 5 2002 while serving as ASNB president:
Greetings to all Members of the Autism Community in NB:
At the ASNB AGM Saturday I was honoured by my fellow members of the ASNB by
being elected as your new President for the next 2 years. I set out, in my
acceptance speech, some goals that I would like to see us achieve during
this period. The first item on the list was to send a letter to our Premier
introducing myself as the new ASNB president and requesting a meeting with
him. That letter was hand delivered yesterday morning to the Premier's
Office. I do not know if a meeting will be granted. However, the letter
itself also sets out an agenda for discussion, hopefully face to face, but
if not then through the media and public demonstration.
The letter drew the Premier's attention to the need for proper ABA based
intensive early intervention for autistic children in New Brunswick, proper
training for teachers and aides and the need for appropriate community
settings, with trained personnel, in which autistic adults can live and
receive proper care and attention.
Most of that agenda was initially met with resistance from the Departments of Education, Family Services and Health. At the time of that post there was no publicly funded ABA treatment for autistic children in New Brunswick. And there were few properly trained personnel to provide the therapy. A course had to be established at UNB-CEL to get people trained properly to provide pre-school treatment. Pressure had to be exerted before some system of accountability - using an agency model - was introduced to ensure proper treatment is actually provided to autistic children. The fight to have autistic children educated by autism trained Teacher Assistants acting under the guidance of autism trained Resource Mentors (Resource Teachers) continues. While we are optimistic that training of TA's and Resource teachers will take place we have also learned to be vigilant and to stay on top of those in public office who promise change. The issue of youth and adult residential care is also on the agenda and a presentation will soon be made to Family and Community Services.
Things could be better in New Brunswick for autistic children and adults but they are much better then they once were. A lot of people have made great sacrifices to achieve some progress and it is difficult to continue in such efforts. But there is a real reward, and it is huge, in knowing that you have contributed to the treatment, education and care of autistic persons. If you feel that you are ready to get into the fight, and while at times it is a dialogue most of the time it is a fight, to obtain decent treatment, education and residential care for autistic children, youths and adults contact the Autism Society New Brunswick. It is the open, democratic and independent provincial voice of the autism community in New Brunswick