Friday, June 29, 2012

Adults with Autism Disorders Not on the Political Agenda In Nova Scotia or New Brunswick

Conor at Black Rock on the Minas Basin, the eastern extremity of the Bay of Fundy, shared by New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and home of the highest tides in the world.  NB and NS also share a lack of commitment to helping autistic, particularly severely autistic,  youth and adults.

Nova Scotia is receiving some recognition for improvement in services for children with autism disorders on the one hand but is also criticized for leaving adults and older children with autism behind.  The situation is not unique to Nova Scotia.  

New Brunswick made significant gains in provision of preschool and school services for autistic children during the Lord and Graham administrations although those services are now slipping away under the Alward-Carr-Porter administration. Autistic youth and adults, however, have not made any substantial gains at all during the Lord, Graham or Alward terms. No progress has been made in developing a modern facility with professionally trained staff for the most severely affected by autism disorders.  The group homes are staffed with personnel who lack training in autism.  

The story is similar in Nova Scotia where adults with autism, like those in New Brunswick, are simply dumped in psychiatric facilities with populations with a variety of mental health disorders:

""I'm happy that the people coming up have the resources I didn't have," said Barbara Gillis, whose 21-year-old son, Paul, is currently institutionalized with people suffering from a range of problems that don't include autism. Gillis, a single mother from Halifax, said she's been fighting to get her son into a properly supported environment to no avail. "What about the young adults that have already come up and didn't have these resources? There's a whole population out there with nothing."

Cynthia Carroll, executive director of Autism Nova Scotia, said there is currently no transition support for young adults leaving high school and there is a "crisis level" lack of residential support for adults as they get older. "They really need to start looking at services and supports for adults right across all government departments," said Carroll.
Health Minister David Wilson said with current budget restraints the province feels it can do more by targeting autistic children at an earlier age. However, he conceded more has to be done to improve support programs for older children and adults living with autism. "There's still work to be done," Wilson said. "We've got to continue to look at ways to support individuals young and old who have autism.
The only promises from politicians that count however are firm and clear  commitments to take specific actions within an identified time frame.  The Nova Scotia Health Minister's rhetoric about adult autism support amounts to "not today but maybe tomorrow".   You don't have to be a political scientist  to know the value of such promises. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We've got to look into is the comment we often hear from experts who aren't looking into what's best for autism community. Parents must know by now that relying on others to help their autistic children, teens and adults is no longer a matter of waiting for others to "look into it." We must look into what's best for our autistic children.