New Brunswick has an approach to adult autism disorder care and treatment that can most charitably be described as a Band Aid approach. There are many reasons for this Band Aid solution apart from the consistent waving of the "we are living in hard times" dismissal that usually accompanies the replies written for Ministers of Social Development by their communications employees. The reality, regardless of the reasons, is that adult autism care in New Brunswick typically involves one emergency solution after another. These emergencies have existed since before I became involved in autism advocacy after my 19 year old son's autism diagnosis 17 years ago. In the 17 years since I have seen one adult autism care emergency after another and those are only the ones which have been detected and reported by the Brunswick News reporters over the years. New Brunswick, under pressure from determined autism parent advocacy and with the direct involvement of the University of New Brunswick and its UNB-CEL program, developed a model for early intervention which has become recognized internationally. We have also provided autism training for Teacher/Education Aides and Teachers although much remains to be done. It was also autism parent outrage and advocacy that revived the tertiary level pediatric autism treatment service at the Stan Cassidy Centre that had been scheduled for closure.
With all the progress we made in early intervention, education and pediatric autism care (to age 15 according to the Stan Cassidy Centrre web site) little has been done to implement a systemic solution to the residential care and treatment needs of autistic adults in New Brunswick. Group homes with untrained staff and ad hoc accommodation for those who can function in those environments helps some but many require substantially higher levels of care ... tertiary level care such as that which exists until age 15 in New Brunswick but is truncated for unknown reasons at that age. I am not aware of any other medical disorder which this province or any other province cuts off at an arbitrary age when it is well known that severely autistic adults require care for the rest of their lives.
Permanency should also be a factor of adult residential care. Many autistic adults, particularly severely autistic adults, suffer when their daily lives are disrupted. This fact does not appear to be factored at all into the decision making of the comfortable civil servants who have resisted for a decade the establishment of a permanent level adult care facility which could provide permanent residential care for the severely autistic along with treatment and temporary care and treatment for those with greater functioning levels. The facility could also act as a centre to ensure that autism specific group homes include autism trained staff and some professional oversight.
New Brunswick has proven itself to be a humane and innovative, even a recognized model, province in the treatment and education of autistic children and youths. It truly puzzle me and concerns me more as my son and I both grow older why we do not extend the tertiary level care we provide to autistic youth to autistic adults and why we do not develop the autism treatment centre and group home network system suggested by Professor Emeritus Paul McDonnell in a 2010 Election CBC interview. What are our civil servants afraid of? Whey do they not care about the needs of autistic adults, particularly those with severe autism disabilities?
Band Aid solutions have not provided the systemic adult autism care and treatment that is required in New Brunswick. It is time to extend the innovative but evidence based approaches to autism care , treatment, and education to autistic adults in NB. It is time to end the age based discrimination against NB autistic adults.