Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Brunswick Leads in Preschool & Student Autism Services But Adult Autism Needs Must Be Addressed

Autism expert Paul McDonnell Professor Emeritus (Psychology, UNB), Clinical Psychologist, and  a  major force behind the great progress that has been made in provision of preschool and school autism intervention and education services in New Brunswick,  has provided expert analysis of autism issues to the CBC. In two features, Paul's analysis, and his interview by CBC reporter Dan McHardie, Paul speaks about the leadership role New Brunswick has taken on in providing excellent preschool and school autism services but also points to  the need to address youth and adult autism needs including adult care residential needs as set out in the interview:

"Our greatest need at present is to develop services for adolescents and adults," McDonnell writes.

"What is needed is a range of residential and non-residential services and these services need to be staffed with behaviourally trained supervisors and therapists."

"In the past we have had the sad spectacle of individuals with autism being sent off to institutional settings such as the Campbellton psychiatric hospital, hospital wards, prisons, and even out of the country at enormous expense and without any gains to the individual, the family or the community

Among the reforms that the UNB professor is calling for is an enhanced group home system where homes would be connected to a major centre that would develop ongoing training and leadership.

The larger centre could also offer services for people who have mild conditions. But, he said, it could also be used to offer permanent residential care for individuals with more severe diagnoses.

"Such a secure centre would not be based on a traditional 'hospital' model but should, itself, be integrated into the community in a dynamic manner, possibly as part of a private residential development," he writes.

"The focus must be on education, positive living experiences and individualized curricula. The key to success is properly trained professionals and staff."

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