Autism Reality

An Autism Question for the Hon. Stephane Dion

 

 

2007-06-05

The Hon. Stephane Dion, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Official Opposition
Liberal Party of Canada

Dear Mr. Dion

An Autism Question

I am the father of two sons one of whom has classic Autism Disorder, with profound developmental delays, and I have been an autism advocate for the last eight years. This year I watched hopefully, but with no illusions, as Liberal MP Shawn Murphy of Charlottetown introduced Bill C-304, a Private Member’s bill, which would called for amendment of the Canada Health Act to provide coverage for autism treatments. As expected, Bill C-304 was defeated by the governing Conservative Party and its partner, the Bloc Quebecois. The Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party both voted, by and large, in support of Bill C-304. You personally cast a vote in support of the Bill.

Autism is a serious neurological disorder which affects 1 in 150 Canadians, including 1 in 94 male Canadians. Persons with an autism disorder can display a wide range of deficits including intellectual, communication, behavioural and social deficits. While no known cure exists, a treatment which has been empirically demonstrated in hundreds of studies to decrease the negative autism deficits, and in some cases virtually eliminate, these deficits exists. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) has been demonstrated to improve the abilities in all these areas and improve the quality of life of autistic persons in hundreds of studies. Effective, early and intensive intervention with ABA, in addition to being effective in treating autistic children, has also been shown to save governments very substantial sums of money in provision of government services over the life of an autistic person.

Despite these facts, governments in Canada have an atrocious record in dealing with the Autism Crisis which confronts Canada and in helping these very vulnerable people. In British Columbia and Ontario governing parties reversed election campaign promises to provide medicare coverage for autism choosing instead to spend hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars to fight in court the parents of autistic children they had pledged to help. Mr. Dion I hope that you will not follow these shameful precedents, I hope you will not forget your vote in support of Bill C-304.

Mr. Dion, will you tell me, and other parents and caregivers of autistic children and persons, if the Liberal Party of Canada will, once elected, introduce legislation in the first year of your taking office as Prime Minister, to include autism treatment in medicare for all Canadians with autism regardless of residence and regardless of income?

Respectfully,

Harold L Doherty
Fredericton
New Brunswick

June 10, 2007 Posted by | advocacy, applied behaviour analysis, auitsm disorder, autism advocacy, autism treatment, Bill C-304, Canada Health Act, Liberal Party, Stephane Dion | Leave a comment

Autism & ABA – "Life Just Keeps Getting Better" for Jack Fraser


Dealing with it … autism sufferer Jack Fraser enjoys time with his mum Charmaine. / The Daily Telegraph

In “Autism epidemic being ignored” Sunday Telegraph, May 12, 2007, Zoe Taylor describes the autism epidemic in Australia where a recent federal government-funded review of research into autism concluded there was scientific evidence of the effectiveness of therapies including applied behaviour analysis – which draws on research dating back more than 40 years. Despite knowledge in Australia of the efficacy of ABA as an autism intervention the treatment remains underfunded, good news for those who view autism as a “joy” but bad news for families struggling to cope with the realities of autism, families trying to help their autistic children. Amongst the hardship though are stories such as those of Jack Fraser, a young autistic boy whose family has done whatever was necessary to fund ABA treatment for him, with great results for Jack.


Charmaine and Anthony Fraser had to move from Newcastle to Sydney and cash in their Super twice in order to fund ABA therapy for their son five-year-old son Jack.

The couple, from Wollstonecraft, face annual bills of around $60,000 for the treatment which includes one-on-one home therapy sessions every weekday morning and afternoon.

They have seen vast improvements in Jack, but he is unlikely to be able to attend a mainstream school so they are considering sending him to a specialist private school.

Mrs Fraser said she had no regrets about funding the therapy, but was angry there was no Government help.

She added: “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.”

http://www.news.com.au/sundaytelegraph/story/0,,21713139-5006007,00.html

May 12, 2007 Posted by | aba, applied behaviour analysis, Australia, autism disorder, autism treatment | 1 Comment

"We Can Do Better" – Flashback – May 2004 Autism Education Rally

Autism advocacy is never easy as illustrated by this article covering a May 2004 rally held to push for ABA based instruction for autistic children in NB schools. At that time Conservative Family & Community Services Minister Tony Huntjens stated that an education program was being set up at UNB to train teachers to provide ABA based instruction. In fact the Conservatives did provide for approximately 85 Resource Teachers and Teachers Aides to be trained at UNB-CEL’s Autism Intervention Training Program, a small but important first step in addressing the needs of New Brunswick’s autistic students. Subsequently Liberal Opposition Leader Shawn Graham promised to train 100 TA’s and Resource Teachers per year for 4 years at the nationally recognized UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program. Unfortunately, all signs now indicate that the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training training will not be provided as promised by Premier Graham. Unfortunately, it does not look like the Liberal government “can do better” as opposition critic Kelly Lamrock, now the Minister of Education, once boldly asserted.

Daily Gleaner | Provincial News
As published on page A3 on May 4, 2004

Parents march to protest tight funding for autism
Group contends age ceiling leaves many stranded

PROTEST:
(The Daily Gleaner/Dave Smith Photo)
Dawn Bowie, left, a parent of an autistic child, and 11-year-

JOEL O’KANE
for The Daily Gleaner

Frustrated parents picketed outside the Centennial Building on Saturday
against what they call “discriminate funding policies” by the Lord
government when it comes to educating children with autism.

“We’re here so children of school age can benefit from the funding, because
right now it’s discrimination,” said Nancy Blanchette, who chairs the Family
Autism Centre for Education (FACE).

Currently, parents with autistic children can receive funding aid for their
child’s special needs, but only up to age five.

Once they grow old, or enter the school system, the funding dries up.

Parents argue that they need the funding to pay for special education for
their children, such as applied behavioural analysis (ABA). They say that the
early intervention ABA offers for their children has made great differences,
but it isn’t cheap.

“My son Justin was diagnosed with autism when he was about two years
old,” said parent and FACE board member Dawn Bowie. “Back then, we
couldn’t find much support around. There was none.”

Bowie said the family did know about ABA, and was able to be evaluated
by a child psychologist who’s an expert in the field.

“We paid big, big money. Tens of thousands of dollars. And we’re still paying
big, big money.”

ABA works one on one with an autistic child to pinpoint behavioural
problems and works to correct them. It teaches routine, responsibility,
and normal behaviour to children with autism.

Parents say that autistic children who receive ABA intervention are less
disruptive in school, and more apt to become socially involved.

However, many parents say the current funding is useless unless the age
restriction is lifted and children can continue to receive ABA after they enter
the public school system.

“We want to let the government know that autism doesn’t go away at the age
of five,” said Blanchette. “A lot of children aren’t even diagnosed until
later than this, so there’s still progress to be made to help them reach
their full potential.

“If (Premier) Bernard Lord’s touting his quality learning agenda, where no
child gets left behind, he has to understand that this also applies to children
with special needs in the school system.”

FACE had publicly invited Lord to come out and talk to the crowd
on the weekend, but was instead greeted by Fredericton Liberal
MLA Kelly Lamrock.

“We can do better. We know the options,” he said. “We know that
ABA treatment works. Premier Bernard Lord says he has to make
tough choices? I say he made bad choices and cut taxes. If you
can get up every day and deal with this, you deserve the Liberals’
support.”

Tony Huntjens, minister of Family and Community Services, says that
the current funding system is new, and it will take time to work out
the kinks.

“First, we need to tackle autism at an early age, because that is
where most good can be done,” he said. “Once they get to age six or
enter the public school system, these children can work with their
teachers.”

Huntjens said the Lord government has no intention of raising the age
limit for autism funding.

Parents say that children with autism need to have ABA throughout
their childhood, and that leaving the problem to the teachers when
their children enter school will only put more strain on the public
school system.

“I’ve told Minister Huntjens that he might as well throw his money to
these families over the Westmorland Street Bridge,” said Dawn Bowie.
“The progress ABA makes stops after these kids get to school, so what
good is that?”

Huntjens said an education course is being set up at the
University of New Brunswick that will train interested teachers to
provide ABA to potentially autistic students.

May 3, 2007 Posted by | aba, applied behaviour analysis, autism advocacy, autism disorder, autism education, commitment, Education Minister Kelly Lamrock, Premier Shawn Graham, Tony Huntjens | Leave a comment