Tuesday, November 30, 2010

An Enhanced Autism Group Home System and Center is Needed to Fill the Gaping Gap in New Brunswick's Autism Service Model

In ASAT Responds to Canadian CBC's "N.B. Can Be a Leader in Autism Services" New Brunswick, Canada  was recently described by David Celiberti Ph.D., BCBA-D, President Association for Science in Autism Treatment as being a leader in the provision of autism services.

Responding to the referenced  title of a CBC article on the state of autism service delivery in NB Dr. Celiberti expressed the view, with which this humble father and autism advocate agrees, that  NB is a leader in providing evidence based effective preschool intervention and  education of autistic children.  Dr. Celiberti goes on, however, to point out correctly, as did the CBC article written by Paul McDonnell a leading New Brunswick autism expert, Professor Emeritus (Psychology) and clinical psychologist working with autistic children, that New Brunswick is still lacking in adult autism services. 

In fact New Brunswick has no autism specific youth and adult residential care system.  Instead NB autistic youth and adults who require residential care services are placed in general group homes with no autism specific staff and no professional autism specific expertise readily available.  For those who require autism specific treatment the situation becomes horrendous with some youth being placed on the grounds of correctional facilities, some youth and adults living in hotels, hospitals wards and psychiatric institutions. Some are exported out of the province and out of the country.  

In his CBC comments Dr. McDonnell provides clear direction on what is needed to fill the adult service gap in New Brunswick's autism service delivery model:

"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.

We can do much, much better.

We need an enhanced group home system throughout the province in which homes would be linked directly to a major centre that could provide ongoing training, leadership and supervision.

That major centre could also provide services for those who are mildly affected as well as permanent residential care and treatment for the most severely affected.

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.

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

An enhanced autism specific group home system throughout the province with a major center, providing ongoing training, leadership and supervision, as recommended by Dr. McDonnell is exactly what is needed to fill the gaping gap in New Brunswick's autism service delivery.  Autism advocates, including me, have advocated for enhanced autism specific group homes and a center for several years but government has not responded.

In New Brunswick, parents, politicians and civil servants stepped up to the plate and became a leader in helping autistic children.  Surely we can do the same for our autistic youth and adults.  Surely we can provide decent, secure, modern living environments for our vulnerable autistic youth and adults in need.

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