Autism Reality

Autism Therapy Must Be Funded

Fredericton’s Daily Gleaner has long been supportive of the cause of autism in New Brunswick and once again it has stepped up to the plate with an editorial calling on the Liberal government of Shawn Graham to fund autism therapy past the current 5 year age cut off and into the school years. Not just because Premier Shawn Graham promised to train 100 TA’s and Resource teachers a year at the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program but also because it is a good investment which will defray the costs to society of additional care for autistic children as they age and costs incurred by the stresses leading to marital breakdown. The Gleaner has offered sound advice. Hopefully, Premier Shawn Graham will heed such advice and honor the commitment he made as part of his campaign to become Premier.

Autism therapy must be funded

Published Wednesday April 25th, 2007
Appeared on page B7

Parents of autistic children are in a race against time. It’s a race in which they are heavily handicapped with too many burdens to carry, too much worry on their shoulders and far too many roles to fulfill.

They must be not just mother, father and all the chauffeuring, chefing, cleaning, dressing and boo boo-kissing that entails but also teacher, social co-ordinator, mentor and the many other functions needed to help their autistic child cope.

And as the province has failed to fulfill its promise of funding training for support workers for autistic children, parents must also play the part of fundraiser to pay for the special treatment that can literally change an autistic child’s life.

The Liberal government promised to pay for autism intervention training for 100 teacher’s assistants and resource teachers a year for four years. That would help autistic children have a chance at working with a specially trained teacher’s assistant.

Currently, applied behavioural analysis intervention therapy is the most popular and successful therapy for autistic children. It’s a program of intense therapy which, when started early on, can help autistic children reach their full potential.

The government funds the therapy for pre-school age children, but once the child enters kindergarten, the funding stops.

And then there is nothing.

So desperate parents struggle to pay for the therapy which can cost more than $50,000 a year. And that means holding benefit dances and any other fund-raising event they can think of on top of all their other tasks.

Election promises aside, funding this therapy is a good investment. Autistic children who grows up to be severely autistic adults not only have a low quality of life, they cost the system more money. Helping autistic children reach their full potential, translates to autistic adults who will be better able to care for themselves.

Doing whatever is necessary to support parents of autistic children is also a good investment. When parents are exhausted and stretched to their limit, the whole family suffers. Marriages break down, other children come off the rails, some drop out of school. There’s a whole slew of expensive problems that go with family breakdown.

Among the Liberal government’s election promises was a little one about self-sufficiency, one that’s getting all the attention. But if we are not all on the road to self-sufficiency — and that includes autistic children — none of us will get there.

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April 25, 2007 Posted by | Applied Behavioural Analysis, autism awareness, autism disorder, Daily Gleaner, election promise, Premier Shawn Graham, UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training Program | 2 Comments

Autism Is A Global Health Crisis – Suzanne Wright

Founder of Autism Speaks, Suzanne Wright, along with Priscilla Natkins and Andy Shih
Gulf Times Newspaper

Suzanne Wright and Autism Speaks are raising autism awareness around the globe. The information presented in the following article is basic and to the point. Autism is not a literary metaphor or a different cultural viewpoint, it is a neurological disorder characterized by a range of very serious deficits. Children with autism can be aided immensely by behavioral interventions. But parents and professionals have to understand this point and act promptly and decisively. Autism awareness, not misleading rhetoric, is critical to helping autistic children whatever their country of residence.


Autism is a global health crisis: expert
Published: Wednesday, 25 April, 2007, 08:43 AM Doha Time

Staff Reporter
AUTISM strikes without any discrimination of ethnicity, class, geography, gender or race, said Autism Speaks’ founder, Suzanne Wright, yesterday during the Second Annual International Forum on Children with Special Needs in the Shafallah Center.
Also speaking on the occasion were Ad Council’s executive vice president and director of client services, Priscilla Natkins and Autism Speaks’s chief science officer, Andy Shih.
Referring to autism as ‘an urgent global health crisis,’ Wright said that this fast growing, serious developmental disorder, has become an epidemic which is found in one of every 166 children in the United States.
“Though the causes are unknown, it can spread worldwide without any discrimination,” she explained.
The session, on the urgency of bringing Autism epidemic awareness through public service advertising, began by screening a documentary entitiled, ‘Autism everyday’.
The daily lives of eight autistic children were screened, along with their parents’ apprehensions. The children, all above three to four years, required constant attention and were seen restless.
The main symptom was ‘stimming’, a repetitive body movement that self-stimulates one or more senses in a regulated manner, some of them, being grinding teeth, jumping on toes, head banging and scratching. The child makes absolutely no eye contact and many of them stopped speaking after a particular age. Simple tasks like dressing, brushing and eating by themselves took hours and a mother agreed to this, saying, “it took me two years to teach my son to put his shirt on”.
There have been instances when a child affected by autism had not slept for two to three weeks.
Researches say that 80% of the time, parents with an autistic child end in a divorce, as they are equally helpless and cannot cope with the emotional, and financial issues.
Some of the measures taken for the care of children diagnosed with autism, are behaviour therapy, music therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy, most of which are done at home.
The parents were apprehensive, as these treatments were expensive – as high as $100 per hour.
Suzanne Wright, who herself has an autistic grandson, Criston, said that grandparents also play an extraordinary role in the care of autistic children. She exhorted that they should provide support to their children to raise the diagnosed child.
Wright said that autism can be diagnosed when children do not exactly meet their milestones, or meet them at an unusually early time, such as sitting up before six months and walking before 10 months.
Wright said that raising awareness was the corner stone of her mission.
Priscilla Natkins spoke about the role of media and and the effective public service campaigns that were raised. Some of the advertisements screened urged the audience to know more about autism, through their website.
The campaigns launched have successfully increased parental knowledge. It was said that the earlier the awareness, the earlier intervention will help. The advertisement council relied on pro bono services from advertising agencies and the media.
The target audience was parents of newborn, and the secondary target being doctors and health care professionals.
Andy Shih, spoke about the research they in this field. He also talked about the importance of scientists all over the world linking and working together to find a cure for this neurological disorder.

http://tinyurl.com/37853z

April 25, 2007 Posted by | autism awarness, autism crisis, autism disorder, autism speaks, Gulf Times, Qatar, Suzanne Wright | Leave a comment