Sunday, October 28, 2007

Autistic Children Lost On Waiting Lists In Canada's Autism Wasteland

In Waiting list for help is long the Leader-Post this weekend reports on the autistic children getting lost on the waiting lists in Saskatchewan, Canada's Autism Wasteland. The Leader-Post reports that Saskatchewan is the only province in Canada without a comprehensive treatment program for autistic children. At the Autism Resource Centre in Regina one child has been on a waiting list for services for 2 1/2 years and is still number 66 from the top. Once at the top of the list, a child will receive a program plan and some support services but no treatment program. The extremely valuable early years development time is being lost due to government indifference.

The school years are no different in Canada's Autism Wasteland where the Saskatchewan government nonchalantly relies on the approach that schools are expected to provide all students' needs from special education funding - without the funding and trained personnel to provide autism specific educational assistance to autistic children. The result - autistic students - even non verbal autistic students - are dumped in the mainstream classrooms without proper help.

What is it in the air or the water in Saskatchewan that has caused its political and civil service leadership to be so indifferent to the needs of autistic children? How can they just ignore the needs of vulnerable children?

It is not simply a money issue. New Brunswick is on a similar economic and population footing as Saskatchewan but much more has been done here for our autistic children and much more continues to be done.

It is not like the Saskatchewan leadership can rely on ignorance as an excuse. With internet communications today it is impossible for any conscious, and conscientious, leader to pretend that they do not know that 1 in 150 children in their jurisdiction will be diagnosed with this neurological disorder.

It appears that, apart from calloused indifference, the explanation for Saskatchewan's inaction may lie in proximity to Canada's wealthiest province - Alberta. The much healthier funding for autism services in Alberta has resulted in some Saskatchewan families moving next door to obtain treatment for their autistic children.

Why is Saskatchewan Canada's Autism Wasteland? Is it possible that the Saskatchewan leadership is simply leaving it to their Alberta neighbors to deal with? It certainly looks that way.

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