Autism Reality

Good News from Ontario on Autism & Education – ABA in Ontario Schools

Good news for autistic students in Ontario. The government of Ontario is directing ALL school boards to provide Applied Behaviour Analysis to all students with autism.

TORONTO, May 17 /CNW/ – The McGuinty government is improving the learning environment for students with autism spectrum disorders by directing all school boards to provide Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Education Minister Kathleen Wynne announced today.

“All students with autism deserve equal access to this vital teaching
approach that can improve their focus on individual projects and strengthen
their communication with other students in the classroom,” said Wynne.
“We are implementing our plan to ensure students with autism receive the
best education possible.”

The Ministry of Education instructed school boards today that they must
provide programs that use ABA methods to students who need it. This
directive is part of the government’s response to the recommendations of
Autism Reference Group report, Making a Difference for Students with
Autism Spectrum Disorders in Ontario Schools: From Evidence to Action,
received earlier this year.

The implementation of ABA will be supported by extensive staff training
starting with six to eight representatives, including superintendents,
principals, teachers, teaching assistants, school support staff and Special
Education Advisory Committee members, from each school board over the
next two months. This will be followed by school team training – funded
through a $1-million investment – for up to 1,400 principals, educational
assistants and teachers over the summer months.

Additionally, the government has provided a grant of $2.75 million to
the Geneva Centre for Autism. “We are very grateful for the government’s
support so we can provide further training on ABA approaches to school
staff in the fall,” said Margaret Whelan, Executive Director of the Geneva
Centre for Autism. “This investment will allow educators to help more
students with autism succeed.”

May 17, 2007 Posted by | aba, Applied Behavior Analysis, autism disorder, autism education, Dalton McGuinty, Liberal Party, Ontario, schools | 3 Comments

Autism Reality – The Truth, the Whole Truth, Must Be Told

Deborah Pugh is a journalist and mother of an autistic son who has been crticized for speaking publicly about her son’s challenges, specifically his autism and the challenges presented by puberty. She has written an article on this subject in the Vancouver Sun which follows this comment. Puberty, like infancy and old age are merely stages which all humans, if they are fortunate, pass through on life’s journey. Puberty, like these other stages, is nothing to be ashamed of and there should be no problem with discussing the challenges it presents in a respectful manner. Censoring discussion of such a subject is what creates shame and leads to an incomplete and distorted picture of the realities of someone with autism who is undergoing puberty.

Pete at “A Perfectly Cromulent Blog” has touched on the decision a parent must make – remain silent or advocate publicly with public comments about your autistic child. With this blog site I have obviously chosen to speak publicly about my son, Conor, his severe autism, the joys AND the challenges of living with and raising Conor, our hopes AND our fears for his future. A major reason for the user name I employ “AutismRealityNB” is my perception that the internet is full of joy of autism sites and sites about high functioning autistic persons who have the ability to host blog sites, write lenthgy essays, appear before government committees, intervene in court proceedings and otherwise function and communicate at a very high level. They are joined by some parents and professionsals who condemn parents like those in the Autism Every Day video who tell the whole truth of their child’ autism realities. An uninformed reader of the Wikipedia List of People with Autism should be forgiven for thinking that autistic persons are all artists, poets, authors and researchers. On the internet there is rarely to be found any mention of the darker realities of autism, those who lack basic communication skills or live in institutional care. Without such mention the lives of the severely autistic can become invisible to the world, forgotten. Reality is not always a welcome guest on the internet world of autism.

Ms Pugh’s article follows and I thank her for having the courage to speak up and to describe some of the realities of autism and the challenge of puberty for an autistic person.

Autism criticisms are counterproductive
Deborah Pugh, Special to the Sun
Published: Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lauren Brown’s letter of May 7 criticizing my willingness to talk of the challenges of puberty and autism, and to allow my son to be identified, spoke more to her sense of shame around sexuality and disability then to my son’s reality.

To our family it is not a source of shame that he is an adolescent with all the physical manifestations that brings. Nor is it a source of shame that he has autism.

Perhaps if Brown were to re-read Pete McMartin’s excellent reporting more carefully, she may become more aware of my son’s limited awareness of or concern about the opinions of his peers. If he had a higher level of awareness, then he would not have been identified.
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As someone who has worked as a journalist for 20 years and as an advocate for families of children with ASD for 12, now for ACT — Autism Community Training — I took this opportunity to speak openly about the reality for so many of our families because there are many children on the spectrum who would be embarrassed about this reality and many families who find it too difficult to discuss.

I have had many direct responses to McMartin’s excellent piece, largely from other families, all of which have been grateful that I was prepared to speak honestly and with humour.

Criticizing the decision of families to discuss their challenges in the press, as they see fit, whether it is Brown’s patronizing critique of the piece that I contributed to, or the superior finger-waving that letter writer Debra Antifaev resorts to in criticizing parent Cyndi Gerlach, is counterproductive if their real aim is to support the diversity of family experiences and the desperate need for better services.

Doubtless I have many limitations as a parent, but I am not sure that Brown is in any position to give lectures on advocating for children with autism.

Perhaps next time she feels so strongly about our children she could write a letter to the editor calling on government to adequately fund rapid diagnosis, equal access to excellent treatment regardless of age, and proper supports to all families struggling to raise families of children with disabilities — regardless of diagnosis.

In closing I would like to thank The Sun for having the courage to delve into these delicate issues in depth and to do it without sentimentality. McMartin is to be congratulated for an excellent series which is sensitive to the extremely complex reality of our families.

Deborah Pugh lives in Vancouver.

© The Vancouver Sun 2007

May 17, 2007 Posted by | activism, autism awareness, autism community training, autism disorder, Deborarh Pugh, Peter McMartin, puberty | 4 Comments

Autism Quotes # 1

“If a child cannot learn in the way we teach … we must teach in a way the child can learn.”

Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas

“When Jack was diagnosed we were devastated at that thought of what life might be like for him. Now he can talk. ABA is hard work, but it has opened up a whole range of opportunities for him. Life just keeps getting better.”

Charmaine Fraser, Mother of Autistic Son, Australia

So we’re choosing to tell our daughter’s story now, after being quiet about it for the last 16 months: to emphasize how important it is that this bill pass in its original form. If it seems opportunistic or self-serving, well…there’s not much I can say about that, except that things like ABA and other therapy programs would seem to be the point of insurance: to insure the well-being of these kids who otherwise would be without hope for a future.

Finally, the only thing that really gave me pause about posting this was something that was said to me about the possibility SWSNBN might read this later on in her life and be mortified. My only response to that is this: I’m not a religious person, so prayer is out of the question, but I hope beyond anything I have ever hoped in my miserable life that my daughter, at some point in the future, is able to read this blog and yell at her father about it. I want that so badly it physically hurts.”

Pete, A Perfectly Cromulent Blog, Father of Autistic Daughter, Texas

May 17, 2007 Posted by | aba, Applied Behavior Analysis, autism awareness, autism disorder, autism education, autism therapy, Lovaas | Leave a comment