I was pleased to see some autism issues addressed in the Green Party 2014 election platform. Much as I like the Green Party, particularly leader David Coon, in standing up for NB's environment, I didn't expect anything relevant to my central "issue" ... autism. I was wrong. Although there is not a lot of details on how specific changes would be put in place the statements of principle are encouraging:
ACCESSING HEALTH CARE
Establish regional residential facilities for autistic adults who are unable to care for themselves.
Regional residential facilities for autistic adults would be a major step forward for many autistic adults. The proposal still lacks a central facility in Fredericton near the autism expertise located there which could develop the expertise to accommodate the most severely autistic adults and share their expertise with the regional facilities but it is much better than we have now with generic group homes with untrained staff as one option and the Campbellton Regional Psychiatric Hospital as another and placement outside the province as yet another. A good start but autism disorders are heterogeneous in nature and can be very complex at the severe, lower functioning end of the spectrum including sensory challenges, self injurious behavior, severe intellectual disability, epilepsy, gastro intestinal issues in addition to the social communication and repetitive cognitive, focus and speech patterns. It is the kind of complexity that requires varying expertise in both autism behavior and common comorbid medical conditions ... and requires a facility that can provide both residential care and treatment as required in the most severe cases.
A Green Government would:
Provide the resources required to fully implement the provincial inclusion policy and ensure all children can achieve their full potential. For those children who are unable to function successfully in the regular classroom even with increased resources, provide alternative education settings within the schools.
The full implementation of "the" provincial inclusion policy would be helpful for many with autism disorders. The Green Party also accommodates those, like my son, who are severely autistic and require alternative education settings within the schools. We fought successfully for such accommodations for my son and the Autism Society New Brunswick has long advocated, over much resistance, for the alternative education settings within schools for those who can not function in the regular classroom. An excellent step forward for all autistic children in NB schools.
I went for a stroll on the North Riverfront Trail early this evening. I have deviated from autism occasionally on this blog site to feature pictures I have taken on the NRF Trail that I love. On my walk I noticed the Green Party candidate in my home riding of Fredericton North busy with her Green Party colleagues putting up the sign in the picture below. Although she was kind enough to stop and pose for a picture she had been working hard herself at getting the sign in the picture set up. One of her colleagues, an acquaintance from my Brunswickan days at UNB by the name of John Bosnitch, came across the access ramp and chatted. It was interesting to learn that the pleasant lady in the picture is also a level 3 mechanic. She was not native to this area and was stranded here a few years ago with a damaged vehicle. She was told it would take a while to effect the repairs. She then asked if she could work at the shop because she could not afford to pay for the work otherwise. Since then she has worked up to a level 3 mechanic; very impressive to this son of an excellent army mechanic who lacks my father's skills.