Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Autism Progress Limited to Children in New Brunswick ...... So Far

I have written often of the great progress we have made in New Brunswick in helping autistic children. Our small province is literally a world leader in providing government funded pre-school autism intervention across our jurisdiction by trained autism support workers and clinical supervisors at autism agencies which did not exist just a few years ago.

Our neighborhood schools provide for the education of autistic children in a variety of settings in the mainstream classroom for some autistic children who function well in the classroom, and smaller locations for those, like my son, who do not. Teacher assistants and resource teachers continue to receive Autism Intervention Training from the University of New Brunswick College of Extended Learning which has been externally reviewed by, and received high praise from, renowned autism expert Dr. Eric Larsson.

New Brunswick's autism service delivery model for our autistic school children and pre-schoolers is not perfect. Much work remains to be done for autistic children, continued improvement in delivery of services for them is necessary, but the basics are in place. The same can not be said for autistic adults.

Some autistic adults can function in independent environments. Some autistic adults, and older youths, live in group homes in the community and can be comfortable and cared in those settings. But for others, more severely affected by the deficits of their autism disorders life is different.

Some of New Brunswick's autistic adults and older youths have lived on the grounds of correctional facilities and on hospital wards. Some have been sent outside of the province to live far from family. Others live at the psychiatric hospital in Campbellton, at present a necessary refuge for those who are too severely affected by autism to live in group homes.

New Brunswick is badly in need of a multi-level autism specific residential care facility for autistic people in Fredericton. Fredericton has the other resources: the Stan Cassidy centre which currently provides tertiary level pediatric care for autistic children with serious health and personal safety issues, the UNB Psychology Department which has been involved with providing some of the expertise which has helped this province, the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program which has been the backbone of the school and pre-school programs. These resources could all provide a real synergy of support for a multi-level care facility for autistic persons in Fredericton, one which could provide decent residential care and treatment for New Brunswick's autistic adults and which would be centrally located.

The world is living through difficult economic times and New Brunswick is no exception. Tough decisions are being made by government. It will not be easy to move ahead with the creation of a multi-level care facility at this time but I remain optimistic that such a facility can be established in New Brunswick.

Parents, professionals and politicians here have all contributed in the past to help autistic children in New Brunswick. Now we must move ahead with a commitment to help New Brunswick's autistic adults.

Bookmark and Share

No comments: