September 25, 2014
Premier Elect Brian Gallant
Province of New Brunswick
Dear Mr. Gallant:
The people of New Brunswick, including those with autism disorders and their families, have entrusted you with the great responsibility of being our premier. According to recent figures of the US CDC approximately 1 in 68 persons are estimated to have an autism spectrum disorder, a spectrum that encompasses many with varied, complex, challenging needs. In the absence of Canadian data that estimate applied to New Brunswick's population of approximately 750,000 (Canadian Census, 2011) means that approximately 11,000 New Brunswickers have an autism disorder.
At present there is no autism specific residential care system in place for New Brunswick youth and adults. There is no autism specific treatment system in place for those with tertiary level care needs who are older than the Stan Cassidy autism tream age cutoff of 15. Instead we have exiled severely autistic adults to the Restigouche Psychiatric Hospital in Campbellton, to general hospital wards, to facilities outside the province of New Brunswick and on temporary bases at least to the gounds of a youth penitentiary and to hotel rooms under supervision. Higher functioning autistic youth and adults currently reside in group homes and a variety of apartment, supervised living arrangements.
In an email sent to you and the other party leaders June 14, 2014 I outlined these needs as I have done many, many times to the governments and leaders of the day since 2003. Apart from Dominic Cardy and the NDP and David Coon and the Green Party few have ever responded in any meaningful sense beyond acknowledging receipt of my correspondence whether sent on behalf of my severely autistic now 18 year old son, as a former president of the Autism Society New Brunswick or as a persistent advocate for autism services in New Brunswick over the last 15 years.
The fact that we have to resort to such a wide variety of inadequate and inappropriate living arrangements for those adults with severe autism disorders is compelling evidence of the need for a system of autism group homes, for those with the necessary functioning capabilities built around an adult autism residential care and treatment centre for those over the age of 15 with more severe autism challenges. This system was described in a 2010 CBC interview with NB autism expert Professor Emeritus (Psychology) and Clinical Psychologist Paul McDonnel from which the quote above was excerpted: