A Fredericton mother was heard on CBC info am a short while ago, once again expressing her opinion that overall the new NB Autism intervention policy is good. She basically stated that 20 hours of treatment should mean 20 hours of treatment. Everybody agrees with that statement. Unfortunately the problem with the new policy isn't the 20 hour accountability policy. The underlying problem is the lack of anything in the policy to provide for properly trained personnel to provide the 20 hours in agencies around the PNB. Without proper training the treatment quality will diminish substantially and may even be counter productive.
The other problem with the policy is the lack of notice that was given to the agencies some of whom have indicated it will be very difficult and perhaps impossible to meet the new standards. Some agency employees have stated publicly that they will probably not be able to continue. The impact if agencies can't deliver under these conditions will be felt by children with autism disorders.
A parent has already commented on this blog that their child's appointment for intervention assessment has been postponed as a result of the changes and lack of notice. Everyone agrees that 20 hours should mean 20 hours but it will not be done by ignoring training requirements OR proper notice requirements for adjustments to be made.
I think the view of some parents that 20hours should equal 20hours,although absolutely correct, doesn't fully address related issues,and it is my opinion that this is due to lack of clarity and some whitewashing of the issue from the government. I have been phoning the offices of the Premier, the Minister of Education,the names at the bottom of the letter we were sent from the NB government,aswell as my local MLA. The conversations I have had,although my concerns were heard,did not provide clear well informed answers. I would say the vast majority of the students in the agency my son attends also attend on regular basis. Most of us parents are very involved with our kids therapies,and we treat the intervention services seriously,and we are very grateful for the help we are receiving. However,as was posted several times in the comments in the last article,if,through no fault of the agencies ASWs,if their client doesnot attend a session there wil no longer be payment for this workday. Imagine if you show up to your job,and for reasons beyond your control you find out you will not be paid for that day. Even if there is other work that directly benefits the students. How long before you have to make the choice of staying in a career you love,but doesnot provide stable income for your family,..or move on to a job,very possibly one that provides less positive impact on society,but provides an income you can depend on. Now, after we lose our trained ASWs and other support staff,and with no funding made available to properly train new staff,....really....what will become of our little ones and hope for their future? Their early years are the prime time to conduct interventions that will help to train their minds to get as much out of their education as possible. The skills they learn in their early years will carry though their lives. This will impact the rest of their lives. The funding cuts need to be re examined and adjusted. For each of you,if you love someone with Autism,if you care about their futures, please start calling government and start writing letters. Stand up for our children. Our kids deserve better. BN.
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