Monday, May 12, 2008

Autism Hunger Strike - Canadian Press Report

Canadian Press has reported on the Autism Hunger Strike being carried on by Stefan Marinoiu outside Queen's Park in Toronto. Stefan has done an incredible job, once again, in bringing public attention to the needs of autistic children in Ontario. He has a press conference scheduled for tomorrow morning. People should get out and support Stefan tomorrow.

I don't know if my advice will be heeded but I hope Stefan has a time line in mind to bring this Hunger Strike to an end. Autistic children in Canada need a strong advocate like Stefan but they need him, more than his memory, to help them.

CP : TORONTO — A Toronto man who has been on a hunger strike for over a week is demanding the province eliminate the backlog of autistic children waiting for a crucial but costly therapy.

Stefan Marinoiu, 49, will call on the government Tuesday to move more quickly to provide treatment for children with autism, including his teenage son.

He wants to see the wait list of more than 1,100 autistic children who are eligible to receive intensive behavioural intervention therapy, or IBI, eliminated by November.

Marinoiu also wants the province to commit to providing the treatment in schools no later than September next year.

Education Minister Kathleen Wynne says thousands of people have already been trained to provide another kind of therapy, called applied behavioural analysis, in schools.

She says some schools have therapists to provide the more intensive IBI therapy, but not in regular classrooms.

On another note, I have trouble understanding this great debate in Ontario about IBI versus ABA as those expressions are used by Education Minister Wynne and others, including parents, in Ontario. Intensive Behavioral Intervention IS ABA. It just refers, to the intensity - the number of hours per week of intervention. If it is provided to children between two and five it is typically referred to as Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention. But it still remains ABA. See Autism and ABA EIBI Saves Up to $2,500,000 SUMMARY: Cost-benefit Estimates for Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism John W. Jacobson,James A. Mulick,and Gina GreenIn Behavioral Interventions, 1998, Volume 13, 201-226 :

" Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI)

Studies have demonstrated that intensive early intervention using the principles and methods of applied behavior analysis (ABA) can produce substantial benefits for many children with autism/PDD (Anderson et al., 1987; Birnbrauer & Leach, 1993; Fenske et al., 1985; Lovaas, 1987; McEachin, Smith, & Lovaas, 1993). Although there were some variations in procedures across studies, the interventions generally met the five criteria listed as essential by Guralnick (1998) and Ramey and Ramey (1998).

The interventions:

  1. emphasized skill development through positive reinforcement;
  2. started with an assessment of each child's current skills and deficits; instructional objectives, teaching methods, pacing, skill sequences, and reinforcers were all customized to the characteristics and needs of each child;
  3. addressed all skill domains;
  4. used frequent direct observation and measurement of individual performance to determine if progress was occurring, and adjust instructional methods accordingly;
  5. included parents as co-therapists; and
  6. were directed and supervised by individuals with postgraduate training in behavior analysis plus extensive hands-on experience in providing ABA intervention to young children with autism."

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