Autism Reality

4300 Autistic New Brunswickers??

How many New Brunswickers have some form of autism? There is no way of knowing with certainty for a number of reasons. Changes in diagnostic criteria, the different ages at which autistic children’s behavior begins to differ markedly from other children their age, lack of diagnostic tools and lack of knowledge of criteria amongst some members of the New Brunswick medical community are some of the reasons. Using New Brunswick’s official population estimates and estimates of the incidence of autism from reliable American sources it would seem we can make a reasonable estimate.

According to the NB Department of Finance the population of New Brunswick was approximately 752,000 on July 1, 2005. In May 2006 the Center for Disease Control reported the results of the first study of the prevalence of autism on a national basis in the United States. The study consisted of two parental report surveys in which parents reported incidents of autism diagnosis of their children. The results, as reported by the CDC, indicated that approximately 1 in 175 persons in the US are autistic. If you read the interview transcript of the CDC doctors who presented the results to the media you will see that they did comment that prevalence rates may have been under reported in the study. I know of no reason why that rate would not be applicable in New Brunswick. With a population of 752,000 it seems reasonable to estimate that there are approximately4300 New Brunswickers with autism.

September 26, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Autism Society NB – Annual General Meeting

The Autism Society New Brunswick Annual General Meeting is scheduled for :

Saturday, October 14

From 1 to 4 pm

Tilley Hall, Room 5, UNB Campus , Fredericton

September 24, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Canada Autism Petition

In a previous post I commented on the Autism Exodus in Canada. Some families with autistic children are moving to Alberta which has the money to fund autism treatment. The Autism Exodus highlights the need to develop a national autism strategy. In New Brunswick Fredericton MP Andy Scott has been working hard to do just that. The following is the web site for the Canada Autism Petition which is an attempt to ensure medicare coverage for autism treatment across Canada.



This site is dedicated to the thousands across Canada who are living with the difficulties of autism. Autism is a medical condition and science based, highly effective treatment exists. And yet across our great country provincial and federal governments have steadfastly refused to allow these people to access to our ‘universal’ health care system for their treatment needs.

For people living with autism the only thing that is universal about our national health care system is that they are universally excluded. And while parents and families fight to save the futures of their children, go bankrupt paying for treatment, collapse under the financial and personal pressures….governments do nothing but make it worse.

Please download a copy of our petition and have it filled out. Ask your MP to table it in the House of Commons. Tell them it is time for governments to stop the discrimination and give these people access to health care. Ask you MP to Support Bill C-211. This bill will amend the Canada Health Act and require provinces to fund treatment for autism.

September 23, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

October Is Autism Awareness Month

In Canada October is Autism Awareness Month. The Autism Society New Brunswick will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Saturday, October 14 from 1 to 4 pm at Tilley Hall, Room 5, UNB Campus , Fredericton. Also, look for the ASNB awareness commercial which will be shown on CTV/ATV beginning October 2 and running as often as finances permit. The commercial will focus on early signs of autism and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment. A big thank you to Charlotte and Luigi Rocca of Moncton for making this happen.

September 23, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tasers and Autistic Persons

The Telegraph Journal today reports that RCMP are reviewing the use of a Taser on a teenager at a party in Hampton. Two RCMP officers were investigating a noise complaint and claimed that one teenager refused to calm down despite several warnings and became “combative” and “resistant”. There is no indication of any other factors that might have been involved in the youth’s alleged combativeness. Anyone who has raised or cared for an autistic child for any length of time though will likely have seen “combative” or “resistant” behavior. Some autistic persons lack communication skills and understanding which can result in “resistant” or “combative” behavior in situations where they are overstimulated or overwhelmed particularly in a high stress situation involving strangers. Do a google web search using the words “taser” and “autistic” and you will find pages of stories involving the police use of tasers to subdue autistic persons, sometimes resulting in serious injuries and even death to the autistic person. Here are url’s for some examples:

I have no idea what the RCMP and other NB police forces’ policies are on use of tasers and whether they take into account the possiblity that some intended recipients of taser fire might be autistic or have other mental challenges. But I am going to try and find out. If anyone knows what the policies are at present please feel free to offer your comments and information.

September 21, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

NB Election 2006, Autism and Brad Green

I was happy to see the Liberal Party win last night. For me this was a one issue campaign. The Liberals made a solid commitment to educating autistic students by training 100 TA’s and Resource teachers a year for 4 years. Neither the Conservatives nor the NDP made any commitment to improve the life of autistic children or adults. The NDP did not even demonstrate any real awareness of the autism community or the needs of autistic children and adults. The victory of the Shawn Graham led Liberal party is a big win for autistic persons in New Brunswick.

All that being said, I had mixed feelings about the defeat of Brad Green in the Fredericton-Silverwood riding. Mr. Green was only Health Minister a short time before he committed to the funding of a dedicated autism team at the Stan Cassidy Centre. His decisive action will benefit many autistic children, saving some from serious self injurious and even life threatening behaviour. I thank you for that decisive action Mr. Green.

September 19, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments


My buddy, the reason I advocate for autism services in New Brunswick.

September 17, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Autism – Shawn Graham Liberals Sign On to Help

All three parties were asked during this campaign about what commitments they would make on behalf of autism in NB. If not during an election campaign when, if ever, would they make a commitment? Only the Shawn Graham Liberals responded with a specific commitment of $2.5 million including a commitment to train 100 TA’s and Resource teachers each year for the next 4 years. Last night in Miramichi Liberal leader Shawn Graham signed on the dotted line leaving no room for anyone to cast doubt on his party’s commitment to persons with autism.

The cast Shawn Graham is signing belongs to Autism Society President Lila Barry. The photos were taken by ASNB Miramichi Rep Geri Donahue. There is an interesting story behind how Lila broke her leg but I will leave that to her to comment on if she chooses.

September 17, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Memorable Team Lord Autism Comments

Team Lord has made some memorable though discouraging comments about autism over the past 7 years. Here are some of the more notorious:

Elvy Robichaud – “I have enough on my plate right now’

I don’t have a government position on it yet … I have enough on my plate right now as health minister with regional health authorities, introducing nurse practitioner legislation and community health centres. . . . There’s only so much we can do every day.”SJ Telegraph Journal, A1, Aug 28 2002

Then Health Minister Elvy Robichaud, the lead minister on the Interdepartmental Commitee (health, education, family services) that issued a report in November 2001, explaining why he had not read the report 10 months later.

Tony Huntjens – “Nothing is lost”

Nothing is lost. Remember if you don’t spend it, it doesn’t mean the money is lost. It (just) means you haven’t spent it and you can use it for other health care services that are necessary” – Daily Gleaner, A2, Oct 21 2003

Then Family & Community Services Minister Huntjens, who had replaced Health Minister Robichaud as lead minister on implementing the IDC autism report recommendations, commenting on the fact that more than 6 months after funding for the autism programs had been announced none of the monies had yet been spent on implementing the programs.

Bernard Lord – “You do not have to follow me eveywhere”

Or his handlers keeping at a 50feet distance between Mr. Lord and certain mothers.

I forgot about this incident until reminded by ” A Friend” in the comment section. In the 2003 election campaign a group of us “autism parent advocates” attended at Conservative Eric McKenzie’s campaign headquarters on Regent Street. I brought my then 7 year old autistic son Conor with me and he entertained everyone inside by running his hand through the Tory Blue icing on the large cake in the center of the room. The ladies seated around the room were amused. Security were not but made no move towards me or my son, Conor. Outside I waited with Conor on the sidewalk leading up to the entrance. When Bernard Lord arrived he stopped and said hello to Conor whose bright yellow tee shirt was covered in Tory Blue icing. I introduced him to Mr Lord as “my autistic son Conor”, chatted with some of the ladies who were genuinely entertained by and interested in talking about Conor. I saw Jody Carr on his cell phone making what appeared to be a frantic call. Later I learned that one of our parent advocates, a mother and registered nurse, who was present at the next stop at Oromocto campaign headquarters for Jody Carr, was prevented from approaching within 50 feet of the Premier by his assistant Mr Kevin Price. I believe the “you do not have to follow me evereywhere” comment was made at a different campaign stop to another of our parent autism advocates.

September 16, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Team Lord’s Shoddy Treatment of Autistic Children

Team Lord’s treatment of autistic persons over the past 7 years has been shoddy; marked by dithering, delay and indifference. It is true that the Lord government, after prolonged pressure from parents, has taken some steps to help autistic children for which the parents had long advocated. What the Lord government doesn’t acknowledge is that the reforms implemented do not help autistic children of school age and do not help autistic adults. Nor is it acknowledged that Team Lord ignored and literally left unread for a period of 1 full year an interdepartmental committee report on autism. After public rebuke from many sources, including the Telegraph Journal opinion which follows this comment, the Lord government announced autism funding 6 months later on April 1, 2003. Six months later, however, 2 years after the release of the IDC report on autism the government had still not decided how it would spend the money announced on April Fool’s Day, 2003. I have a word for Mr. Lord about his shoddy treatment of autistic persons. No one was fooled.

“SHODDY TREATMENT: [Thumbs down] to Health & Wellness Minister
Elvy Robichaud for not dealing with the findings of a report on
autism – one that has been on the shelf for 12 months. A key service
sought by parents of autistic children is intensive early
intervention, seen as a crucial element in the child’s normal
development in later life. If this spending isn’t available for one,
two, or three years, then families with autistic children have a
right to know. The are taxpayers and should be treated as such.”

New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, provincial edition, page A7,
November 8, 2002.

September 16, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment