Friday, February 06, 2009

No Autism Funding Just Jibber Jabber In Harper Budget

Shelly Berman as Judge Robert Sanders on Boston Legal
"What is this jibber-jabber? I don't like jibber jabber in my courtroom"

Senator Jim Munson, who has been an unrelenting advocate on behalf of Canadians with autism disorders and their families, questioned Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors) yesterday over the lack of funding for autism in the Harper government budget:

"Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Last week's federal budget talked a lot about infrastructure. My question is about another kind of infrastructure, namely, social infrastructure.


I talked about it yesterday, as did Senator Oliver, in dealing with autism. I do not need to go over all the figures. One in 150 families is affected by autism.

Parliament has taken steps. We lobbied hard and Minister Clement listened and did some work.

Will the government consider taking a further step to create a division for autism within the Public Health Agency of Canada so that this condition can be looked at, receive the attention it deserves, and families can receive the help they so desperately need? I am looking for that national leadership focus.

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government and Minister of State (Seniors)): I am well aware of the honourable senator's hard work on the subject of autism.

As the honourable senator knows, when Minister Clement was Minister of Health he set up a research chair to study ways to move this issue forward. Autism is one of many conditions that falls within the purview of provincial departments of health and, of course, health care is delivered by the provinces.

With regard to the budget, a great deal of money has been set aside at universities for research in science and technology. It is hoped that indirectly, through the money that has been provided to universities, to the science community and to the health system, in addition to all the money that the government transfers to the provinces for health care, the treatment of autism will move forward quickly in the near or immediate future.

With the budget and the actions that the government has taken, in our consultations in various areas, we have tried to reach out to the good suggestions that are there, including the worthy ones of the honourable senator.

I am sure that Minister Aglukkaq � who is from the North, I am happy to say � and her officials, will have reviewed the files that Minister Clement was working on in terms of autism. I cannot say definitively what they are but I will find out."

Debates of the Senate (Hansard) 2nd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 146, Issue 7 Thursday, February 5, 2009

The reply by the Honourable Marjory LeBreton betrays no actual knowledge of autism or the evidence based effective autism intervention, ABA, that so many autistic Canadian children require to help them overcome their deficits and live fuller lives. In case someon on Ms LeBreton's staff Stumbles Upon or otherwise inadvertently reads this blog site I offer the following information from the American Academy of Pediatrics, also found on the upper right hand corner of this blog site:

The effectiveness of ABA-based intervention in ASDs has been well documented through 5 decades of research by using single-subject methodology21,25,27,28 and in controlled studies of comprehensive early intensive behavioral intervention programs in university and community settings.29–40 Children who receive early intensive behavioral treatment have been shown to make substantial, sustained gains in IQ, language, academic performance, and adaptive behavior as well as some measures of social behavior, and their outcomes have been significantly better than those of children in control groups.31–4

American Academy of Pediatrics, Management of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

I also bring to the attention of the Honourable Ms LeBreton that many autistic Canadian adults are living in reprehensible residential care facilities if they are lucky and are not simply living on the ward of a general hospital as has occurred here in New Brunswick. Some are actually exported to the United States to receive residential based treatment not available here in New Brunswick and other parts of the country.

Please Ms LeBreton, stop posturing with nonsense about autism research dollars. Canadian research for autism is not generally directed at finding cures or treatment for autism. At least some of it goes to researchers more interested in promoting feel good "autism is beautiful" nonsense.

If Ms LeBreton has a conscience, and any integrity, I ask her to please stop with the "jibber jabber" (parents advocating for autistic family members have heard it for years) and start talking about funding ABA services for autistic children and decent residential care and treatment facilities for autistic adults wherever they happen to live in Canada.

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