Saturday, September 15, 2007

Autism Debate Heats Up Ontario Election

Autism issues are heating up the Ontario election campaign, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the Ontario Autism Coalition, which has been very well organized and effective in getting autism issues in front of political participants. Today the NDP and Liberals squared off over the issues of age cut off and school provision of ABA/IBI services for autistic children.

The Canadian Press is reporting a commitment by NDP leader Howard Hampton to provide publicly funded Intensive Behavioral Intervention in classrooms for all autistic children. The NDP has committed to providing IBI therapy for an autistic child from the day they qualify and an end to waiting lists. Children and Youth Services Minister Mary Anne Chambers retorts however that there simply aren't enough trained autism support workers to provide one on one treatment to every child who needs it.

In New Brunswick we have faced the same issues over the past several years. The UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program grew out of the need to train Autism Support Workers and Clinical Supervisors in the pre-school and school years. That training has been taking place over the past several years with training of another 100 Teacher Aides (Autism Support Workers) and Resource Teachers (Clinical Supervisors) scheduled to start in October. Premier Shawn Graham and Education Minister Kelly Lamrock have committed to train another 300 TA's and teachers over the next 3 years. In proportion to Ontario's population that would be roughly the equivalent of a commitment to train a further 4,000 Autism Support Workers and Clinical Supervisors to work in Ontario schools. We are very confident that New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham and Education Minister Kelly Lamrock will keep their promise to New Brunswick's autistic school children.

The McGuinty government should quit making excuses for why they can't address the needs of Ontario's autistic children, stop breaking promises, stop fighting parents in court and buckle down and get to work helping autistic children. Maybe Ontario parents will decide to Get Orange and vote for the NDP.

As the Ontario Autism Coalition has said so succinctly - No More Excuses!

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