Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Canada Still Awaits A National Autism Strategy

The following comment by Brian Rimpilainen, a friend and autism dad from Fredericton New Brunswick, was published in autism group networks and in the Telegraph-Journal. Brian is a dedicated autism advocate who has worked as a member of the Autism Society New Brunswick Board of Directors, the ASNB representative on the Autism Society Canada board and the Medicare for Autism organization. He has also been actively involved in direct citizen advocacy through local print media and internet media tools such as Facebook where Brian is the founder and administrator of the National Autism Strategy / ABA in Medicare NOW! group:

As 2008 comes to a close, I am reminded of former Fredericton MP Andy Scott's statement of June 5, 2007: "Mr. Speaker, it is regrettable that we have seen little action by the government toward implementing a national autism strategy ;

A year earlier Mr. Scott's private member's motion called for "evidence-based standards, innovative funding arrangements for diagnosis, treatment and research, and a national surveillance program."

I am the father of a son with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I watched hopefully as Liberal MP Shawn Murphy introduced a private member's bill, which would called for amendment of the Canada Health Act to provide coverage for autism treatments. The bill was defeated. The Liberals and the New Democrats both voted, by and large, in support of Bill C-304.

Autism is a serious neurological disorder that affects 1 in 150 Canadians. Persons with an ASD can display a wide range of intellectual, communication, behavioural and/or social deficits. While no known cure exists, a treatment that has been demonstrated in hundreds of studies to decrease the negative autism deficits, and in some cases virtually eliminate these deficits exists. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) has been demonstrated to improve the abilities in all these areas and improve the quality of life of persons with autism.

Despite this, governments in Canada have an atrocious record in dealing with the autism crisis and in helping these vulnerable people.

I hope all MPs will carry the torch Mr. Scott has lit as we move into 2009.

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