Tuesday, September 26, 2006

4300 Autistic New Brunswickers??

How many New Brunswickers have some form of autism? There is no way of knowing with certainty for a number of reasons. Changes in diagnostic criteria, the different ages at which autistic children's behavior begins to differ markedly from other children their age, lack of diagnostic tools and lack of knowledge of criteria amongst some members of the New Brunswick medical community are some of the reasons. Using New Brunswick's official population estimates and estimates of the incidence of autism from reliable American sources it would seem we can make a reasonable estimate.

According to the NB Department of Finance the population of New Brunswick was approximately 752,000 on July 1, 2005. In May 2006 the Center for Disease Control reported the results of the first study of the prevalence of autism on a national basis in the United States. The study consisted of two parental report surveys in which parents reported incidents of autism diagnosis of their children. The results, as reported by the CDC, indicated that approximately 1 in 175 persons in the US are autistic. If you read the interview transcript of the CDC doctors who presented the results to the media you will see that they did comment that prevalence rates may have been under reported in the study. I know of no reason why that rate would not be applicable in New Brunswick. With a population of 752,000 it seems reasonable to estimate that there are approximately4300 New Brunswickers with autism.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Autism Society NB - Annual General Meeting

The Autism Society New Brunswick Annual General Meeting is scheduled for :

Saturday, October 14

From 1 to 4 pm

Tilley Hall, Room 5, UNB Campus , Fredericton

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Canada Autism Petition

In a previous post I commented on the Autism Exodus in Canada. Some families with autistic children are moving to Alberta which has the money to fund autism treatment. The Autism Exodus highlights the need to develop a national autism strategy. In New Brunswick Fredericton MP Andy Scott has been working hard to do just that. The following is the web site for the Canada Autism Petition which is an attempt to ensure medicare coverage for autism treatment across Canada.




This site is dedicated to the thousands across Canada who are living with the difficulties of autism. Autism is a medical condition and science based, highly effective treatment exists. And yet across our great country provincial and federal governments have steadfastly refused to allow these people to access to our 'universal' health care system for their treatment needs.

For people living with autism the only thing that is universal about our national health care system is that they are universally excluded. And while parents and families fight to save the futures of their children, go bankrupt paying for treatment, collapse under the financial and personal pressures....governments do nothing but make it worse.

Please download a copy of our petition and have it filled out. Ask your MP to table it in the House of Commons. Tell them it is time for governments to stop the discrimination and give these people access to health care. Ask you MP to Support Bill C-211. This bill will amend the Canada Health Act and require provinces to fund treatment for autism.

October Is Autism Awareness Month

In Canada October is Autism Awareness Month. The Autism Society New Brunswick will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Saturday, October 14 from 1 to 4 pm at Tilley Hall, Room 5, UNB Campus , Fredericton. Also, look for the ASNB awareness commercial which will be shown on CTV/ATV beginning October 2 and running as often as finances permit. The commercial will focus on early signs of autism and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. A big thank you to Charlotte and Luigi Rocca of Moncton for making this happen.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Tasers and Autistic Persons

The Telegraph Journal today reports that RCMP are reviewing the use of a Taser on a teenager at a party in Hampton. Two RCMP officers were investigating a noise complaint and claimed that one teenager refused to calm down despite several warnings and became "combative" and "resistant". There is no indication of any other factors that might have been involved in the youth's alleged combativeness. Anyone who has raised or cared for an autistic child for any length of time though will likely have seen "combative" or "resistant" behavior. Some autistic persons lack communication skills and understanding which can result in "resistant" or "combative" behavior in situations where they are overstimulated or overwhelmed particularly in a high stress situation involving strangers. Do a google web search using the words "taser" and "autistic" and you will find pages of stories involving the police use of tasers to subdue autistic persons, sometimes resulting in serious injuries and even death to the autistic person. Here are url's for some examples:


I have no idea what the RCMP and other NB police forces' policies are on use of tasers and whether they take into account the possiblity that some intended recipients of taser fire might be autistic or have other mental challenges. But I am going to try and find out. If anyone knows what the policies are at present please feel free to offer your comments and information.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

NB Election 2006, Autism and Brad Green

I was happy to see the Liberal Party win last night. For me this was a one issue campaign. The Liberals made a solid commitment to educating autistic students by training 100 TA's and Resource teachers a year for 4 years. Neither the Conservatives nor the NDP made any commitment to improve the life of autistic children or adults. The NDP did not even demonstrate any real awareness of the autism community or the needs of autistic children and adults. The victory of the Shawn Graham led Liberal party is a big win for autistic persons in New Brunswick.

All that being said, I had mixed feelings about the defeat of Brad Green in the Fredericton-Silverwood riding. Mr. Green was only Health Minister a short time before he committed to the funding of a dedicated autism team at the Stan Cassidy Centre. His decisive action will benefit many autistic children, saving some from serious self injurious and even life threatening behaviour. I thank you for that decisive action Mr. Green.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


My buddy, the reason I advocate for autism services in New Brunswick.

Autism - Shawn Graham Liberals Sign On to Help

All three parties were asked during this campaign about what commitments they would make on behalf of autism in NB. If not during an election campaign when, if ever, would they make a commitment? Only the Shawn Graham Liberals responded with a specific commitment of $2.5 million including a commitment to train 100 TA's and Resource teachers each year for the next 4 years. Last night in Miramichi Liberal leader Shawn Graham signed on the dotted line leaving no room for anyone to cast doubt on his party's commitment to persons with autism.

The cast Shawn Graham is signing belongs to Autism Society President Lila Barry. The photos were taken by ASNB Miramichi Rep Geri Donahue. There is an interesting story behind how Lila broke her leg but I will leave that to her to comment on if she chooses.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Memorable Team Lord Autism Comments

Team Lord has made some memorable though discouraging comments about autism over the past 7 years. Here are some of the more notorious:

Elvy Robichaud - "I have enough on my plate right now'

"I don't have a government position on it yet … I have enough on my plate right now as health minister with regional health authorities, introducing nurse practitioner legislation and community health centres. . . . There's only so much we can do every day." - SJ Telegraph Journal, A1, Aug 28 2002

Then Health Minister Elvy Robichaud, the lead minister on the Interdepartmental Commitee (health, education, family services) that issued a report in November 2001, explaining why he had not read the report 10 months later.

Tony Huntjens - "Nothing is lost"

"Nothing is lost. Remember if you don't spend it, it doesn't mean the money is lost. It (just) means you haven't spent it and you can use it for other health care services that are necessary" - Daily Gleaner, A2, Oct 21 2003

Then Family & Community Services Minister Huntjens, who had replaced Health Minister Robichaud as lead minister on implementing the IDC autism report recommendations, commenting on the fact that more than 6 months after funding for the autism programs had been announced none of the monies had yet been spent on implementing the programs.

Bernard Lord - "You do not have to follow me eveywhere"

Or his handlers keeping at a 50feet distance between Mr. Lord and certain mothers.

I forgot about this incident until reminded by " A Friend" in the comment section. In the 2003 election campaign a group of us "autism parent advocates" attended at Conservative Eric McKenzie's campaign headquarters on Regent Street. I brought my then 7 year old autistic son Conor with me and he entertained everyone inside by running his hand through the Tory Blue icing on the large cake in the center of the room. The ladies seated around the room were amused. Security were not but made no move towards me or my son, Conor. Outside I waited with Conor on the sidewalk leading up to the entrance. When Bernard Lord arrived he stopped and said hello to Conor whose bright yellow tee shirt was covered in Tory Blue icing. I introduced him to Mr Lord as "my autistic son Conor", chatted with some of the ladies who were genuinely entertained by and interested in talking about Conor. I saw Jody Carr on his cell phone making what appeared to be a frantic call. Later I learned that one of our parent advocates, a mother and registered nurse, who was present at the next stop at Oromocto campaign headquarters for Jody Carr, was prevented from approaching within 50 feet of the Premier by his assistant Mr Kevin Price. I believe the "you do not have to follow me evereywhere" comment was made at a different campaign stop to another of our parent autism advocates.

Team Lord's Shoddy Treatment of Autistic Children

Team Lord's treatment of autistic persons over the past 7 years has been shoddy; marked by dithering, delay and indifference. It is true that the Lord government, after prolonged pressure from parents, has taken some steps to help autistic children for which the parents had long advocated. What the Lord government doesn't acknowledge is that the reforms implemented do not help autistic children of school age and do not help autistic adults. Nor is it acknowledged that Team Lord ignored and literally left unread for a period of 1 full year an interdepartmental committee report on autism. After public rebuke from many sources, including the Telegraph Journal opinion which follows this comment, the Lord government announced autism funding 6 months later on April 1, 2003. Six months later, however, 2 years after the release of the IDC report on autism the government had still not decided how it would spend the money announced on April Fool's Day, 2003. I have a word for Mr. Lord about his shoddy treatment of autistic persons. No one was fooled.

"SHODDY TREATMENT: [Thumbs down] to Health & Wellness Minister
Elvy Robichaud for not dealing with the findings of a report on
autism - one that has been on the shelf for 12 months. A key service
sought by parents of autistic children is intensive early
intervention, seen as a crucial element in the child's normal
development in later life. If this spending isn't available for one,
two, or three years, then families with autistic children have a
right to know. The are taxpayers and should be treated as such."

New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, provincial edition, page A7,
November 8, 2002.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

An Autism Election Request for Disaffected & Undecided Voters

I have a request for disaffected, or undecided, voters as they consider whether, or how, to vote on Monday. You may feel that your vote makes no difference or there is no reason to cast your vote for one party or another. You may just be having a hard time making up your mind and you may be searching for a good reason why you should vote one way or another. If this sounds like you then I ask you to consider supporting the cause of autistic schoolchildren by voting Liberal on Monday.

I make this request because I am the parent of two sons, one of whom is profoundly autistic and I am an autism advocate. I make this request because the Liberal party has made a firm commitment to providing autism training for Teachers' Assistants and Resource Teachers. The Liberal Party commitment is to provide the nationally recognized UNB-CEL autism training to 100 TA's and Resource Teachers each year for the next 4 years. With approximately 1000 autistic school children in NB schools this commitment would effectively give autistic schoolchildren a chance at a real education. Neither the Conservatives nor the NDP are making any such commitment.

I am not asking you to donate money or any substantial amount of your time. I am asking you, IF you have not already decided whether or how to vote, or if you see no good reason to vote one way or the other, to consider turning your vote into a real contribution to seriously challenged autistic schoolchildren in New Brunswick by voting Liberal on Monday. You can make a difference in their lives.

Harold L Doherty
Fredericton NB

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Autism Society Endorses Liberal Party Autism Platform

The following statement has been released by Lila Barry, President
of the Autism Society New Brunswick:

Let me say, Autism Society New Brunswick is a non-partisan,
non-profit volunteer organization and our mission is to advocate
for best quality services for persons with autism within the
Province of New Brunswick.

We have asked all parties to present their platform specific to
autism.To date, Sept. 12, we have received no reply from the New
Democratic Party. There are over 4000 persons living with autism
in NB. It is the belief of the autism community that such an
important issue must be addressed by all parties prior to the

ASNB acknowledges the positive steps of the Progressive
Conservative Party have undertaken thus far. For these efforts
we are grateful. The progressive conservative government
implemented therapy services for children under age 6, provided
training for autism support workers, provided funding for a
specialized autism team at the Stan Cassidy Centre, and is presently
training 89 Teacher Assisatants and Method and Resource Teachers
at UNB-CEL. These are all excellent starts, a good beginning.

The Progressive Conservative Party is committed to:

1)implementing the recommendation of the Wayne MacKay Report
2) more training for Autism Workers/Clinical Supervisors
3) investment in Assitive Technology
4)more training for Teacher Assistants outside of instructional hours
5) work with Autism Society

First, the autism society has serious reservations in the Wayne Mackay
Report specific to autism. The report recommends the development of a
provincial autism strategy to report back in 2 years with a further
year to study alternatives. Thus we are looking 4-5 years before kick
starting MacKay's recommendation. Our children can not wait 5 years for a
meaniful,quality education. Secondly, we embrace more training for autism
support workers, and clinical supervisors. However, we need specific
information to numbers to be trained and a time frame. Thirdly, training
teacher assistants outside of instructional hours. We have serious concerns.
There is no reference to the nationally recognized autism intervention
program, UNB-CEL. Again we require a commitment to numbers, time frame and
specific training. Fourth, there is no mention of developing a strategic
plan for adult services, specific to adult residential care.

ASNB has received the following commitment from the liberal party.

1) Funding for existing autism therapy programs for children under the
age of 6 will continue

2) An additional 2.5 million dollars yearly have been set aside to
expand upon autism services.

3)1 million of the 2.5 million will target training 400 teacher
assisants and method and resource teachers at a training rate of 100 per
year over four years at UNB-CEL

4) remaining 1.5 million to attack specific issues as increase therapy
funding for young children, training through UNB-CEL, and

5) the deveoplment of a long term service plans for autistic adults
including residential care

6) ASNB will be a full member in the development of autism strategies.

We are encouraged, seeing this as a very positive direction. ASNB
views the liberal platform very favorably.


Lila Barry, President
Autism Society New Brunswick

Monday, September 11, 2006

Liberals Make Strong Commitment to Educating Autistic Children

Everyone wants their child to receive a good education and parents of autistic children are no different. For the most part autistic children have received only babysitting services instead of the quality learning education that all school children in New Brunswick have been promised. Now, things could change for the better. Shawn Graham's Liberal Party has made a very solid commitment to provide UNB-CEL autism training for 100 additional teaching assistants and Methods and Resource teachers each year for four years.

The UNB-CEL course was developed with input from the ASNB. Offered first at the pre-school level it gained national recognition and has helped supply the badly needed Autism Support Workers and Clinical Supervisors to work with pre-school autistic children. The course has been modified to provide training in the context of the school environment. This will allow hundreds of autistic school children to receive a real education. The Liberals have made a very solid commitment that will go along way towards helping autistic children live a fuller, richer life.

A big thank you to Shawn Graham and the Liberal Party for this strong commitment to educating autistic children.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lord, Brewer Ignore 4000 Autistic New Brunswickers

There are an estimated 4000 persons in New Brunswick with a condition on the Autism Spectrum of Disorders. These people are in desperate need of effective evidence based early intervention, real educational opportunities and decent residential care provided by professionally trained caregivers in centres accessible to their family members. The Liberal platform at least mentions autism in promising to implement the seriously outdated (2001) Interdepartmental Committee report on the delivery of autism services and the fundamentally flawed MacKay Inclusion Report recommendations. Neither the NDP under the leadership of Allison Brewer nor Team Lord have even mentioned anything remotely connected to the issues confronting the community of 4000 autistic New Brunswickers, their families and caregivers. It appears that in the Lord and Brewer scheme of things autistic children and adults are simply not worth mentioning.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Autism Exodus - Why Autism Is A National Issue

There is currently a cross Canada campaign to have the national Health Care Act amended to require provinces to treat autism. Opponents of the campaign say that health care is a matter within provincial jurisdictionl; not a national concern. They are right that health care falls within provincial constitutional jurisdiction. But they are wrong when they say it is not a national concern.

Because of differences in how the provinces fund autism treatment some families of autistic children are migrating to Alberta which is able to fund autism treatment. Federal politicians who don't see the national implications of the need to properly fund and treat autistic children everywhere in Canada should know that in the Canadian military a soldier is entitled to refuse posting to New Brunswick if the soldier has an autistic child on the grounds that proper treatment is not available in this province. A recent story in the Kapuskasing Northern Times tells of a Northern Ontario family with an autistic child moving to Alberta to seek better treatment available for their child. Federal Politicians please take note.

Kapuskasing Northern Times - August 30, 2006

Autism Exodus

Family Alberta-bound to seek better treatment for their daughter

The great Oil Patch Exodus has thousands of Canadians relocating to the booming economy of Alberta hoping for a better life.

But there is a silent exodus to the centre of the country for another reason as well, one that has gotten little press. It is an exodus based on autism and it is affecting a Kapuskasing family.

"It's a shame government inaction is breaking up a family", Denise Audet says. Her daughter Sylvie's family is heading for Alberta to seek better treatment for their autistic daughter Gabrielle.

Court Victory for Autistic School Children in BC?

After the Supreme Court of Canda decision in Auton and the Ontario Court of Appeal decision in Wynberg it appeared as though Canadian courts had turned their backs on autistic children. There may have been a win since then in BC, according to a recent news report. I have not been able to track down the actual court decision yet to confirm but if correct this could be another step forward in ensuring that autistic children receive a real education.

CKNW Local News
Autism Court Victory
Sep, 07 2006 - 8:50 PM

VANCOUVER/ CKNW (AM980) - Parents of autistic children say they've won another court case.

Shirley Hewko sued the Abbotsford school district claiming it refused to provide an adequately trained assistant to help their son in class.

Spokesperson Jean Lewis says Darren Hewko hasn't gone to school now for three years.

"The judge...Madame Justice Marilyn Kennisburg ruled in favour of the family and found the school board in breach of their statutory duty."

Abbotsford school district superintendent Des Mackay says they've received no information on the decision yet. The district had offered a school aide to help Darren Hewko but his parents say an assistant with specialized training is needed.

Vigilance, Constant Vigilance

A recent tragedy in Toronto has revived some terrifying memories for me. A 12 year old autistic boy fell to his death from the 16th floor of a Toronto highrise in early May while under the supervision of a caregiver who resided at that location and who has now been charged with criminal negligence causing death. The case has prompted calls from the Autism Society Canada for national standards for caregivers working with autistic persons.

I know from personal experience the challenges of caring for autistic children and the need for constant vigilance. Three years ago I was home alone on a Saturday with my then seven year old profoundly autistic son when I took a business call on my phone. I had gotten into the habit of taking such calls while listening for my son's whereabouts. This time I got too involved in the call.

When I hung up I could not find my son. I ran frantically around the house and the yard before calling 911. I was informed that he was safe at the nearby Ultramar. He had attempted to cross a busy neighborhood street oblivious to the dangers posed by traffic. A good Samaritan had stopped and helped him into the Ultramar from where I picked him up. The man was still there, waiting to ensure my son was safe, when I arrived but at that point he turned and left without waiting for recognition, reward, or expressions of gratitude.

In my entire life I had never felt such fear, guilt, relief and gratitude. The impact of these intense feelings in one short span of time was difficult to absorb. I can literally still feel them now as I type, three years later. The lessons learned will never be forgotten.

As a lawyer I would not pre-judge the caregiver in the Toronto case - or the outcome of that case. As a parent who has "been there" I know that it is all too easy, unless we want our autistic children to live imprisoned in "safe" environments, for the unthinkable to occur. There is no training that can absolutely guarantee our childrens' safety. But, to improve the odds and reduce the incidents of tragedy, there should be minimum national training standards for those who provide care for autistic persons - parents included.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Dennis Debbaudt's Autism Safety Training Seminars

Dennis Debbaudt's Autism Safety Training Seminars
Wednesday, September 27th, 2006. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Free Admission - Pre-registration required

Session 1 for Law Enforcement & Criminal Justice

8:00am - Registration & Refreshments
8:30am - 12:00pm - Law Enforcement Training Session (with appropriate breaks)
Holland College Lecture Theatre

Session 2 for First Responders & Emergency Personnel

1:00pm - Registration & Refreshments
1:30pm - 4:00pm - First Responder Training Session (with appropriate breaks)
Holland College Lecture Theatre

Holland College Lecture Theatre
140 Weymouth Street, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Information brochure for Sessions 1 & 2: http://www.PlanetAutism.com/runman/seminarday.htm

Session 3 for Autistic Individuals, Parents, Educators, Care Providers & the General Public

6:00pm - Registration & Refreshments
6:30-9:30pm - Autism Risk & Safety Training (with appropriate breaks)
Charlottetown Rural High School Theatre

Charlottetown Rural High School Theatre, 100 Raiders Road, Charlottetown, PEI

Information brochure for Sessions 3: http://www.PlanetAutism.com/runman/seminarevening.htm

Pre-registration is required for this free training event. Seating is limited and participation will be on a first come, first served basis. Please Pre-register by Friday, September 22nd by sending your name, address and contact phone number or email address and the session you are attending to jypsy@isn.net.

Monday, September 04, 2006

MacKay Inclusion Report Recommends Exclusion of Autistic Children

The MacKay Inclusion Report is being hailed as a roadmap for the strengthening of inclusive education in New Brunswick. For autistic children, the MacKay Report recommendations look good on first reading but underlying all of them is a single characteristic – delay. The effect of this unnecessary, and unnaceptable, delay would be to exclude autistic school children from a real education for a period of 4-5 years.

MacKay recommends, 46(a), development of a provincial autism strategy – to report in no later than 2 years. Then it recommends, 46(b), that within 1 year of completion of the provincial autism strategy, the government review responses to autism in other provinces and review the pros and cons of the different models used to respond. We are now up to 3 years of delay. Assuming that the MacKay timelines are rigidly adhered to and that the autism strategy study does not fall prey to bureaucratic inertia and stalling there would still be further time required to implement the strategy, a minimum of 1 to 2 years. Essentially, the MacKay Report recommends waiting 4-5 years before ensuring that autistic children receive a real education. For the autistic children affected by MacKay’s ponderous delays those years will never be recovered. Their lives will never be as full and rich as they might have been had they received a real education during those years.

Sadly, these recommendations are unnecessary. They do not reflect the work that has been done in New Brunswick in the past several years, the Interdepartmental Committee that took almost 3 years to review the delivery of autism services, the meetings between the Autism Society New Brunswick and several Ministers of Education, the Dialogue on Education meetings that have taken place or the development by the Department of Education, in conjunction with the Autism Society New Brunswick and the Family Autism Centre for Education, of the Educating Students with Autism Handbook.

The MacKay Report also largely ignored the development by the University of New Brunswick and the College of Extended Learning of a nationally recognized autism intervention training program which is even now training 80 Teachers Assistants and 9 Resource Teachers in instruction of autistic children. With 1000 autistic students of varying degrees of severity in New Brunswick schools, however, there is an urgent need for at least another 4-500 to be trained. Autistic school children can not wait 4-5 years for still more studies to be done. They, like all students, deserve a real education, and they deserve it now.

These MacKay recommendations for educating autistic children are not based on developments on the ground in New Brunswick and they would in fact exclude autistic children from receiving a real education while more unnecessary studies are done. They should be given the weight they deserve. They should be discarded.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

TA Tips – Tips for Securing a TA for Your Autistic Student

I am a lawyer and an active member of autism organizations in New Brunswick. Mostly I am the father of two boys one of whom is profoundly autistic. Like everyone else, I am continually fighting for a trained Teacher's Assistant to work with my autistic son; preferably one who has received the Autism Support Worker training course from UNB CEL. Many parents are fighting just to get a TA period. I offer these tips primarily for those who might need some guidance or who are just starting out. This is offered as parental advice and general information and is not offered as legal advice. For those seeking help in obtaining a TA I suggest the following and stress that you should seek assistance from other parents. I did. They were a big help in getting a TA for my son.

1. Document your child’s condition and school requirements. If your child is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder make sure that the school has a copy of the diagnosis. This may seem obvious but in some cases the school and district have been able to point out that they were unaware of any actual diagnosis of autism disorder.

2. Medical, Psychological or Therapeutic Assessments – If you think your child needs a Teacher's Assistant to learn in the school environment you should ask any pediatrician, psychologist, occupational therapist, speech language therapist or behavioural interventionist who is working with your child if they agree and would provide a written recommendation for a TA and present their recommendations to the school.

3. Be a Parent Advocate Most parents know their autistic child better than most professionals. Do not be afraid to speak up – politely – but without fear - to express your view of what your child requires.

4. Autism Advocates – If you know an autism advocate or fellow parent of an autistic child who would be willing to attend a meeting with the school you should bring them along. They can provide you with moral support and confirmation of your experiences as a parent in describing what your child requires.

5. Safety – For many autistic children a TA is a must for safety reasons alone and this must be stressed if it is true for your child. An autistic child may not appreciate the many dangers posed by school, playground and nearby streets.

6. Individual Learning Method – If your child requires an individual based learning method using Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) techniques, or other individual based instructions, emphasize this with the school. For ABA in particular there is a great deal of professional literature about the need for one to one instruction for autistic children.

7. IEP or SEP If the school or district refuse a TA for your child do not sign off on the IEP/SEP for your child or if you do sign put a note beside your signature stating that you still require a TA for your child. Otherwise the school and district will argue that you agreed that a TA was not necessary.

8. Appeal – If a TA is denied for your child be ready to appeal right away under the Education Act. The School should have informational pamphlets available and forms explaining the appeal process to you. You might also want to consider hiring a lawyer to work with you on the appeal process.

Conclusion – Preparation, pressure and persistence are all required to obtain and keep a TA for your autistic child. It is a long tough fight and it is one that almost all of us have to go through to one extent or another. Stay calm but firm. Do not overreact emotionally or unduly antagonize school officials. You need their help and most want to help. Getting overheated gives an excuse to the few who do not want to help to refuse what you are looking for. Stay calm and persist.

Harold Doherty

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Autism Society New Brunswick AGM October 14

The date, time, and place of the 2006 ASNB Annual General Meeting is set:

Date: Saturday, October 14, 2006
Time: 1-4 p.m.
Place: Tilley Hall, Room 5
UNB Campus, Fredericton

Friday, September 01, 2006

Leadership Mr. Lord? You Don't Say?

Leadership Mr. Lord?

Whenever I pick up a paper I read party spin about the superiority of your leadership, especially of course in the Times Transcript, which has become a public chuckle in New Brunswick with its constant Bernard Lord worship. Why don't you sit down directly with the parents of autistic children who have missed out on a real education during your "leadership" in the Legislature and brag to them about the wonders of Bernard Lord's leadership? While your party ads tout educational inclusion and quality learning agendas the ugly truth is that autistic children have for the most part been denied a real education. Most of them receive glorified baby sitting services while the Teacher Assistants who work with them for safety and behavioural reasons remain untrained in autism and the behavioural techniques that are proven effective in enabling autistic children to learn. Autistic children have missed out on a real education under your leadership.

What is truly sad is that a real leader would know that a made in New Brunswick solution, capable of providing TA's and Resource teachers, in both French and English, the training needed to enable autistic children to truly be included in a learning experience exists right here in New Brunswick. The UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training course has won national recognition for its work in educating pre-school age autism support workers. And now the program has been modified to train school workers.

Right now the Department of Education is training 80 TA's and 9 Methods and Resource Teachers at the UNB-CEL program. Of the 80 TA's, 56 will be anglophone and 24 will be francophone. Before you jump to take credit for this last development please remember that this is only now taking place in the seventh year of your leadership. The 80 trained TA's is a good start but a timid start. With 1000 autistic children in New Brunswick schools and time passing for them they need you to show some of your vaunted leadership right now. They need a commitment from you to continue training a further 4-500 TA's that we know are needed. Only about 100 TA's and Resource Teachers could be trained per year through UNB-CEL but waiting another 3-5 years to develop an entirely new plan for teaching autistic children, as the MacKay report recommends, is not the way to show leadership.

Show us some real leadership Mr. Lord. Make a commitment now to train the TA's and Resource teachers that would allow autistic children to be included in your learning agenda. Don't dither, and don't use the MacKay Report, helpful in some areas but woefully weak in its understanding of autism, as an excuse to keep autistic children from receiving a real education in New Brunswick.