Friday, June 13, 2008

Ontario's Autism Waiting Lists and the Need for a National Autism Strategy

In Autistic Children "Rotting On The Vine" In Ontario - Why Not Consider "the New Brunswick Autism Model"? I commented on Ontario's lengthy waiting lists for autistic children seeking autism treatment. In Breaking the silence Niagara this week tells the story of Riley Methot a 3 1/2year old with severe autism who is 14th on a waiting list to receive funding for intensive behavioral intervention training. Riley's parents are paying out of pocket for his treatment and he is fortunate that they can but it is creating debt for their family. The article also features Andrew Thomas whose family moved from Ontario to Alberta in 2006 when that province lifted its age restrictions on funded ABA treatment. Andrew could barely talk when he left Ontario now, at age 11, he has gone from severe autism to functioning autism.

The Harper government hides behind constitutional jurisdiction when pressed to provide financing so that autistic children and adults can receive decent treatment and care regardless of where they live in Canada. Mr Harper, Health Minister Clement and Conservative Autism Dad Mike Lake ignore the existence of a national medicare scheme and Canada's history of cooperative federalism in refusing to help autistic people across Canada who don't enjoy the good fortune of living in a province sitting on top of a large oil supply. When families have to move to Alberta to seek treatment, or when members of national organizations who have autistic children refuse postings because of lack of funding for autism in their home province the need for a National Autism Strategy, a real National Autism Strategy, is plain and obvious.


Anonymous said...

Having spent 8mts in Ontario's ABA program you couldn't pay me enough money to do it again. Yes, they surpressed his social responses - he had to respond to items or food not social praise which he enjoyed. If I didn't do exactly as I was told he would fail - what a joke... It was "training your pet dog therapy". The child is doing AMAZING without them. They absolutely refused to tailor the program to him. Even their own psychometrist who came to test him just before we asked them to leave told them he had to learn to transfer the skills - when asked about this "we don't have a program for that" was their response.

I do know that according to my FSW people in my corner of the province want nothing to do with the ABA program offered here.

I do know.. listening to others across the province... there are as many variations of ABA as there are providers.

I'm happy they are gone. I don't regret that choice for a moment. What I do regret is turning my happy-go-lucky, friendly, social little boy.. into a miserable one that was suspicious when we first started in-home speech therapy this winter... 18mths later.. and still he remembered.

It's not for all, and should not to be lobbied as a "one fit" program for all children with ASD. My child is fully integrated, fully supported, modified programming using Writing w/ Symbols etc at school. According to the DRA testing his reading, writing, spelling etc are all at a Gr 2 level - .. I concur.. you can tell at home... not bad for a child just 6.5yrs old.


Unknown said...

I am glad your child is doing well.

As for your personal experience that is not representative of ABA. Proper ABA programs are in fact tailored to the individual child. Generalzation of skills is also a key part of any proper ABA program.

Unlike you I have more than 8 months exposure to ABA. My son has benefited from it greatly. As have many other children that I know personally here in NB. I have also been to Ontario and know that there are many parents there seeking ABA for their children.

The fact is that the benefits of ABA for autistic children is well documented. You might want to actually read some of those reports some time. Or not. That's up to you.

I will continue to lobby for ABA because despite some bad individual experiences from bad service providers it is the only intervention remotely substantiated as effective in helping autistic children. Your "one size doesn't fit all" argument ignores that fact.

Anonymous said...

It's not the concept of ABA I have issues with.. it's the program delivery.

Mine was horrible. To give you an idea of the scope of the issue their "never to return" meeting was held at Community Living not my home. There was the Lead T, Sr T, their boss and the director of the program. Rumour has it if I hadn't had a FSW.. b/c he was progressing in the program CAS would have been called to force me to continue the program. This is the PROVINCIAL program... not a private one pd with provincial $$$.

B/c technically for education we do ABA all the time. The 30min I spend every day doing math, reading, spelling etc with my boys is ABA.. work then freetime. Speech therapy, OT etc... same idea.

These people were ECE grads - daycare providers.. not Autism specialists or properly trained and they thought they knew all.

There is a PPM ( if I got that right... that is the ABA in schools. It is for behavioural services only. My PDD teacher and I had a LONG chat on that one. Behaviour is being taught using tokens etc (little boy). B/c I expect appropriate behaviour - I parent these kids "Blessings of the Skinned Knee" - and now I'm trying to get a proper social and behavioural program put in for my eldest to help with school yard navigating. He's going into Gr 4 and is a good year socially delayed from his peers and it's becoming an issue for him.

So... it's not ABA, it's not good parenting stuff, it's not social and behavioural teaching...

It's the program set up I have problems with... and until I see a proper, user friendly model.. I'll keep making my own and be suspicious of everyone elses.