January 14 2007
Hon. Victor Boudreau
Minister of Finance
Dear Hon. Minister Boudreau:
I am writing to ask that you honor the commitment made by now Premier Shawn Graham during the recent election campaign during which time he promised to provide training for 100 Teachers’ Aides and Resource Teachers per year for the next four years at the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program. The fulfillment of this promise is of vital importance to the education of autistic children. These children are not receiving the “cadillac treatment” in New Brunswick schools right now. Far from it.
For many autistic students fulfillment of Premier Graham’s promise will mean the difference between staying in school and not being sent home because teachers, aides, and other professionals did not understand their behavior and the conditions in the schools which can seriously disrupt environmentally sensitive and communication challenged children. For a great many others it will mean the difference between receiving a real education and simply being babysat as a false testament to New Brunswick’s inclusive education system. Teachers can not commit the time and attention needed to educate autistic children properly and instruct the rest of the class. Most autistic students need TA’s for safety reasons. It makes no sense whatsoever not to provide autism trained TA’s to assist them in learning. The UNB-CEL program is top notch and offers training in autism and the methods that work in educating autistic children.
My profoundly autistic son is almost eleven years of age. The previous government dragged out the Interdepartmental Committee Report on autism services for two years before issuing a report in 2001. The report went unread for another year by the lead minister charged with the autism portfolio. Most of its recommendations remain unfulfilled. My son is growing older. He has had properly trained TA’s for two of his six school years but even now with an excellent well trained TA she is not permitted to spend the full day with him and there is no one to replace her when she is absent for personal reasons. Many autistic students have TA’s with no autism specific training or no TA at all.
Do not underestimate the importance of the Premier’s commitment to train TA’s and Resource teachers to work with our autistic children Mr. Boudreau. They have lost out too long. They need autism trained personnel to help them learn and they need them now. Delay is not an option. Understand their needs, respect the Premier’s commitment and authorize the necessary funding.
Harold L. Doherty
cc. Education Minister Lamrock
Justice Minister & Fredericton-Nashwaaksis MLA Burke
Autism Society New Brunswick