Saturday, October 25, 2008

Canada's Autism Wastelands - Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia

On September 02, 2007 I described Saskatchewan as Canada's Autism Wasteland. In fact Canada has at least three autism wastelands although Saskatchewan still ranks as the worst province in Canada for provision, or more accurately, non-provision, of autism services.

1. Saskatchewan

As stated in Canada's Autism Wasteland To Take First Step Forward on September 02 2007, Saskatchewan, at that time, was the only province in Canada without a program for provision of autism services. 14 months later nothing has changed according to Theresa Savaria, the executive director of Regina's Autism Resource Centre. In Man running to raise awareness about autism spectrum disorder , Leader Post, October `17, 2008, Savaria states:

"Parents can go on the Internet and see that everyone is recommending intensive intervention, but Saskatchewan is the only province that doesn't have that"

2. Ontario

Ontario is notorious for its lengthy waiting lists for provision of autism services. As reported on April 29, 2008 in the Toronto Star:

The wait list of autistic children who are eligible to receive intensive behavioural intervention therapy, or IBI, reached 1,148 on March 31, up from 985 last year.

More than 1,400 children were receiving IBI services as of March 31, according to newly released government figures.

But the long waits have forced many parents to drain their savings and go into debt to pay for the therapy the province has promised to provide, said NDP critic Andrea Horwath.

3. Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia does provide some autism treatment services but not for everyone. In Nova Scotia a lottery system is used to determine which autistic children receive autism treatment. Nova Scotia lost two medical professionals, a husband and wife, who moved to Manitoba to seek ABA treatment for their autistic child.

In Helping kids with autism shouldn't be a lottery Bobby-Lynn Hall reported that:

In Nova Scotia, there are children receiving Early Intensive Behaviour Intervention, a treatment proven to improve vocabulary and social skills and reduce behaviour issues in most children with ASD, but it's based on a lottery system.

We all talk about how great it would be to win the lottery and what we'd spend the money on. But what if your child's future was dependent on winning a lottery and what if you didn't win? Would you be thinking maybe if you had picked a different number, or maybe if you had bought your ticket last week instead of this week, that maybe things would have been different and maybe your child would be the one receiving the treatments that could help him experience things that otherwise may not have been possible?

I agree with Ms Hall. To me Nova Scotia's lottery system is an immoral attempt to avoid the responsibility for providing autism treatment to all those who need it without accepting responsibility for excluding those unfortunate enough to draw the lottery number. It is both immoral and cowardly.

Canada's Autism Wastelands are evidence of the need for a National Autism Strategy in Canada, a real National Autism Strategy, not the phony PR efforts of the Harper government and its alleged Health Minister Tony Clement.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bobby-Lynn on all aspects... I have been working with Families with Autism for over 20 years and when I moved back to Nova Scotia from Ontario I was shocked at how behind we were with research and new interventions. Intensive Behavior modification therapy work and I can attest to this. All the children I have worked with are communicating needs and eating healthy diets. The Nova Scotia Government need to step up and provide more resources and monies so that all families can live healthier life styles.