Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Grim, Chaotic Autism Reality In Ireland

The Independent paints a grim picture of autism reality in Ireland in Autism 'chaos' as one-third wait over year for diagnosis and in an editorial Grim message on autism . Figures released by Irish health authorities show that in one county there are no waiting lists while in others there are 14 months to 3 year delays in receiving diagnosis. For many Irish autistic children the early period when intervention is most effective expires on the waiting list for diagnosis.

The waiting list tragedy is not unique to autistic children in Ireland. Here in Canada there are huge discrepancies between provinces with respect to autism services. Ontario is notorious for its waiting lists for receipt of autism treatment with children left "rotting on the vine". In its editorial the Independent noted that in Ireland:

"following the release of a damning report, the Government was warned that inaction in the welfare of children will lead to a litany of social ills, including an increase in suicide and self-mutilation and family breakdown, which will cost the State dearly in the not too distant future."

So too in Canada our governments, federal and provincial, have been warned by the Senate Committee report "Pay Now or Pay Later" what the future would hold if action were not taken to provide funding and a national autism strategy to ensure that autistic children received the treatment they need. In Canada a cynical Stephen Harper led Conservative party uses pre-WWII views of Canadian federalism to justify its lack of commitment to helping autistic children across Canada.


Lisa Jo Rudy said...

The "pay now or pay later" notion makes very little sense to me. It suggests that if we just put up the cash for ABA when kids are small, the autism will be gone by the time they're grown.

Of course, some kids will, in fact, improve dramatically - but there's absolutely no reason to believe that this will be the case for MOST kids.

And even when kids are dramatically better - verbal, engaged, and so forth - they're still autistic. There's no guarantee (or even likelihood) that they'll be living independently, holding down a job, and generally in no need of additional treatment and support.

In short, I think it's rather misleading to use this phrase - and it worries me that some will see it as an excuse for limiting options for adults on the spectrum. After all, some may say, we paid through the nose for their treatment when they were kids - and enough is enough!


Unknown said...

lisa jo

There is nothing at all misleading about the title of the Canadian Senate Committee report title "Pay Now or Pay Later".

It makes sense because of the studies which show that ABA is most effective when a child receives it early and intensively.

In the absence of early intensive ABA intervention the outcome for autistic children will be less positive, they will need more assistance. The costs increase without early intervention (Mulick).

The Canadian Senate Report was based on a wide range of sources and documentation including people like Michelle Dawson and Dr. Laurent Mottron who have actively lobbied against ABA,

No one assumes that ALL children will become independent. That has never been in contention.

With all respect, I really think you should read the Report itself and give more careful consideration to the excellent American Reviews on the effectiveness of ABA including the AAP (2007), NYSDOH (2005),MADSEC(Maine, 2000, the US Surgeon General Report and the study by Jacobsen, Mulick and Green which indicated cost of care savings of 2.5 Million dollars per child from early intensive behavioral intervention. A summary of that study can be found at the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies site at: