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 Advocacy – FEAT BC Makes A Big Splash on the East Coast


The people from FEAT BC put a lot on the line with this tour. They invested money, sweat, credibility and time, including precious time away from their families, to make this trip across Canada and out to the East Coast to fuel a national effort to get autism covered by medicare. They did not come in to preach to the locals though. They came to talk and encourage all of us to get together and GET POLITICAL. If you are a Canadian parent seeking medical treatment for your autistic loved one NOW is the time to get involved. You can contact Jean Lewis via email at jean.lewis@telus.net. Or you can reach me at dohertylaw@rogers.com. NOW is the time not tomorrow.

If you are a member of a local or provincial autism group which receives government funding to operate they may discourage you from getting involved. Don’t let them discourage you. Act for your child and get involved. Feel free to contact Jean Lewis or me. Other contacts will also be provided soon. Contact your Member of Parliament and ask him or her to support autism coverage in Medicare. Just call them, write them or email them and let them know that is what you want. There is no need to debate them unless you want to do so but they know the need and they know effective treatment is available. Make your MP or anyone seeking to become your MP know that your vote depends on them making a commitment to include autism treatment in medicare coverage. NOW is the time to get involved, and GET POLITICAL.



Group pushes for autism funding
B.C. organization wants Ottawa to set standard for treatment

By MELANIE PATTEN The Canadian Press

A British Columbia-based group pushing to have costly treatments for autistic children covered under medicare has brought its fight to the East Coast.

Representatives from Families for Early Autism Treatment of B.C. met with dozens of parents and their autistic children in Dartmouth as part of a cross-country tour.

The non-profit organization has been calling on Ottawa to work with provincial and territorial governments to set a national standard for autism treatment.

The group also wants intensive therapy, known as applied behaviour analysis, covered for all Canadian children regardless of where they live or their family’s income.

“This is a health-care issue; this is science-based, effective treatment,” said Jean Lewis, a founding director of the group.

“It needs to be funded through health care so that it doesn’t matter if you live in British Columbia or Newfoundland, your health care is looked after in the same way as everyone else’s.”

The treatment, which can include one-on-one time with a trained professional, can cost up to $60,000 a year.

Without a national standard, coverage for autism treatment differs across the country. In Prince Edward Island, for example, coverage is assessed by income.

“That’s not the way they deal with a cancer patient, that’s not the way they deal with a cardiac problem,” said Shawn Murphy, the Liberal MP for Charlottetown. “And that’s not the way they should deal with this particular issue.”

Murphy said Ottawa has agreed to meet with the provincial and territorial governments by the end of the year to create a strategy.

Both levels of government will have to pitch in funding for treatment, support and diagnosis, said Murphy, who was recognized by the association for his public support for a national autism framework.

New Brunswick Liberal MP Andy Scott, Nova Scotia New Democrat MP Peter Stoffer, and Liberal Senator Jim Munson, were also recognized.

Jeff Reeves of Charlottetown, whose five-year-old son Owen has autism, attended the event to push Ottawa to provide more funding for autistic children.

Reeves said his son was diagnosed with autism at the age of two. He said Owen finally began treatment after sitting on a waiting list for nearly 18 months.

“Owen is very intelligent, but it’s his social interaction . . . eye contact, how to play with kids correctly,” said Reeves, 33, who is married and works in the IT industry.

“He’s made strides that we can’t believe . . . but if he would have gotten (treatment) at three, he could have been much further ahead.”

Owen’s treatment costs more than $10,000 a year, and Reeves said the province covers about 60 per cent. The family also pays for supplemental treatment out-of-pocket.

“The federal government has to do something about the funding for (the treatment),” said Reeves.

“The earlier they intervene, the better off these kids will be.

“If they leave them until they’re 18, 20 years old, they’re going to become drains on the system.”

Calgary Sun, May 27, 2007

B.C. autism group tours the nation

UPDATED: 2007-05-27 01:14:36 MST

Push for early treatment takes group to East Coast

By CP

DARTMOUTH, N.S. — A B.C.-based group pushing to have costly treatments for autistic children covered under medicare took its fight to the East Coast yesterday.

Representatives from Families for Early Autism Treatment of B.C. met with dozens of parents and their autistic children in Dartmouth, N.S., as part of a cross-country tour.

The non-profit organization has been calling on Ottawa to work with provincial and territorial governments to set a national standard for autism treatment.

The group also wants intensive therapy, known as applied behaviour analysis, covered for all Canadian children regardless of where they live or their family’s income.

“This is a health-care issue; this is science-based, effective treatment,” said Jean Lewis, a founding director of the group.

“It needs to be funded through health care so that it doesn’t matter if you live in British Columbia or Newfoundland, your health care is looked after in the same way as everyone else’s.”

The treatment, which can include one-on-one time with a trained professional, can cost up to $60,000 a year.

Without a national standard, coverage for autism treatment differs across the country.

In Prince Edward Island, for example, coverage is assessed by income.

“That’s not the way they deal with a cancer patient, that’s not the way they deal with a cardiac problem,” said Shawn Murphy, the Liberal MP for Charlottetown. “And that’s not the way they should deal with this issue.”

Murphy said Ottawa has agreed to meet with the provincial and territorial governments by the end of the year to create a strategy.

http://calsun.canoe.ca/News/National/2007/05/27/4211713-sun.html

May 27, 2007 Posted by | autism advocacy, autism disorder, Canada Health Act, FEAT BC, Jean Lewis | Leave a comment

"Open Every Door" – An Autism Song by Nimal Mendis



Sri Lanka-born superstar, Nimal Mendis recently released ‘Open Every Door,’ a song for autism. Mendis has created history by being the first South Asian singer/songwriter to compose a song on autism. He hopes that the song will create even more awareness about the condition.Mendis has backed the work of the Autism Awareness Campaign UK. A copy of ‘Open Every Door’ was presented to Prime Minister Tony Blair in the House of Commons. Leading British parliamentarian, Lee Scott MP for Ilford North who is championing the cause of autism in Westminster was also presented with a copy of ‘Open Every Nimal Mendis Song For Autism ‘Open Every Door’

Mendis has urged parliamentarians of all parties to do more for people with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome in the United Kingdom. There are 587,900 people with autism in the UK. In London alone there are 15,000 people with autism from minority ethnic communities – including the Sri Lankan Community.According to UK researchers 1 in 100 children may haveautism spectrum disorder. In Sri Lanka they say there are 39,000 children with autism who have virtually no access to education, health, specialist speech therapy and respite care.

Nimal Mendis is an award winning singer songwriter. In the 1960s he released 22 pop songs on the Decca label in London. He appeared on BBC TV’s ‘Top of the Pops’ television programme with Sandra Edema singing his hit, ‘Feel like a Clown.’ One of his compositions reached Number One in the Radio Luxembourg Charts in the height of the 1960s. Mendis has also produced television documentaries for Channel 4 and BBC Television covering a range of issues including human rights and poverty.

May 11, 2007 Posted by | autism advocacy, autism awareness, Lee Scott, Nimal Mendis, Open Every Door, Tony Blair | Leave a 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

Autism : Irish Protest Failure to Fund ABA Schools for Autistic Persons


New Brunswick and other Atlantic Provinces have strong historical ties to Ireland as many of our citizens arrived here escaping the destitution of mid-19th Century Ireland. Their descendants, including the occasional autism blogger, form a significant part of the local population today. We also have in common a reluctance on the part of government decision makers are to take the necessary action to provide needed ABA based educational instruction to autistic persons.

Autism protesters slam funding of specialist education

Several hundred parents and supporters have protested outside Leinster House over the Government’s failure to properly fund applied behavioural analysis schools for autistic persons.

Three hundred and forty-seven black balloons, one for each child currently on waiting lists for ABA schools, were released into the air outside the main gates of Leinster House.

Irish Autism Action spokesperson, Mark De Silvo, said the Government is out of touch when it comes to education for those with autism.

http://tinyurl.com/33728l

April 27, 2007 Posted by | aba, applied behavioral analysis, autism advocacy, autism disorder, autism education, autism protest, Ireland, Irish Autism Action, Mark De Silvo | Leave a comment

Autism Advocacy – Tony Clement Loses Composure, Lashes Out

The Honorable Tony Clement Canadian Health Minister has lost his composure and lashed out at FEAT-BC because of its plans to hold him accountable for his inaction in addressing Canada’s autism crisis. Mr. Clement expressed his outrage that the FEAT organization would actually organize to bring about his electoral defeat. Mr. Clement accused the FEAT group of being extremists for wanting to amend the Canada Health Act to ensure funding for autism treatment across Canada. Apparently the Liberal and NDP MP’s who voted for that precise measure are also extremists in Mr. Clement’s narrow view. In expressing his outrage Mr. Clement also declared that he is “the hardest-working minister autism advocates have ever had“. How Tony Clement has the audacity to make such a clearly nonsense claims is beyond me. After defeating the motion which would have provided universal coverage for autism treatment in Canada Mr. Clement’s government provided ZERO dollars, $0, for autism in its recent budget. Mr. Clement works very hard at doing what he is told by Stephen Harper but there is no evidence that he has so much as lifted a finger to help the cause of autistic children and adults.

The hardest-working minister autism advocates have ever had? That claim is a stinker if ever there was one Mr. Clement.

http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=c1cddc05-246f-4e9c-9455-be53df75eeb3

April 22, 2007 Posted by | autism advocacy, autism awareness, autism disorder, autism treatment, election, FEAT, FEAT BC, Stephen Harper, Tony Clement | Leave a comment

Autism Advocacy in Impending Federal Election


FEAT-BC, which has been at the forefront of autism advocacy in Canada, has heard the message from the Supreme Court of Canada. With two SCC decisions in Auton and Deskin-Wynberg denying the courts as effective avenues for seeking equality protection for autistic children in hand the time is now for political action and FEAT-BC is prepared to jump into the fray – again. The strategy recognizes the need for an effective concentration of effort and resources by targeting ridings of vulnerable politicians who have acted against the cause of autism in Canada. As the attached article from MacLean’s illustrates, FEAT-BC is very interested in one Tony Clement, the federal Health Minister who has fought against Federal government help for autistic persons in Canada , and who did not win by much in his last election.

Watch Out Tony! What goes around comes around!

Warning to low-hanging politicians

Parents of autistic kids take aim at Tony Clement

JOHN GEDDES | April 23, 2007 |

Imagine a Tory who won a seat in the last election by only a few votes. Who would such an MP least want to have to fight, alongside the usual opposition rivals, to survive in the coming campaign? How about enraged, well-organized parents who accuse Ottawa of failing to assure their children of essential medical care?

They might not know it yet, but this unsettling scenario faces certain carefully targeted Conservatives. Parents of autistic children plan to take aim at selected government MPs who squeaked in last time by two per cent of the vote or less. And the most vulnerable MP of all could be the architect of the federal autism policy that has the parents so upset — Health Minister Tony Clement, who won his Ontario riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka last time by a mere 29 votes.

Autism groups are cagey about revealing details of their plan of attack before an election is on. But one Ontario activist told Maclean’s, “Clement is like a pear ready to drop from the tree.” B.C.’s Families for Early Autism Treatment was active in a few closely fought B.C. ridings in 2006. Some of the group’s core members, including director Jean Lewis, are scheduled to attend a meeting in Halifax on May 26 to pass along tactical lessons to East Coast parents of autistic children.

But if Stephen Harper’s minority falls before then, the B.C. firebrands plan to cancel their Halifax event and make a campaign detour to Ontario of up to two weeks. “We will certainly be in Parry Sound-Muskoka,” Lewis said. The B.C. group and their allies demand federal action to extend medicare coverage to full early autism treatment, which can cost $35,000 a year for young children.

Successive federal Liberal and Tory governments have held that deciding what conditions are insured is up to the provinces. Lewis says autism activists will back individual candidates who support their position, but not parties. “When the Liberals were in power,” she said, “they were as pathetic as the Conservatives are now.”

http://tinyurl.com/2d9965

April 20, 2007 Posted by | autism advocacy, autism disorder, autism health, autism treatment, Canada Health Act, FEAT BC, Jean Lewis, Stephen Harper, Tony Clement | Leave a comment

Autism Vox Falsus

There is in the world autism community, at least on the internet component of that community, a group which portrays itself as the true voice of autism. It is essentially an internet based community comprised of some high functioning autistic persons, some parents of autistic children, and some “professionals” including some psychiatrists and educators who oppose attempts to treat or cure autism. Self described as the Neurodiversity movement this group poses as human rights advocates for the autistic but often resembles a hate group in its personal attacks and demonization of any parent or group which attempts to find and fund treatments and cures for autism. Any mention of the serious challenges of the more severe forms of autism is attacked by the high fucntioning autism internet essayists. Even mentioning that some autistic suffer from cognitive deficits, even the use of the expression “low functioning autism” is met by hostility from the Neurodiversity advocates. Far from being the true voice of autism, Neurodiversity is a false voice; an autism vox falsus.

Parents across Canada and the United States and elsewhere in the world have fought hard to seek and obtain a better life for their autistic children through treatment and education. For their efforts they are mocked, ridiculed and demonized by the Neurodiversity movement . The core of the Neurodiversity movement is a number of high functioning autistic persons who do not wish to be cured of their autism. They view their autism as an essential component of who they are as individuals. That is a view point that I can and do respect. They have the right to wish to remain autistic. Where Neurodiversity becomes troublesome is when they fight to prevent parents from seeking cures and treatments for their own children and the demeaning tactics they use in doing so.

One of the Neurodiversity internet commentators who is generally more polite than most is Ms. Kristina Chew the mother of a 10 year old autistic boy, who holds a Ph.D and is a classics teacher. Although Ms Chew has in fact employed ABA interventions to assist her son she downplays that fact on her blog site “Autism Vox” where her guest commentators usually present a Neurodiversity anti-autism cure perspective. But, she is admittedly almost always exceptionally polite and diplomatic. That diplomatic bent changed dramatically this past week though with two comments from Ms. Chew about the Don Imus racism controversy. In these comments Ms. Chew made clear her animosity towards Autism Speaks and towards the parents in the Autism Every Day video.

I really don’t have anything to say about Don Imus — I am no fan, to be sure — but living here in New Jersey, and my husband being a Rutgers alum — I have been appalled, or just outraged, at his use of “crude, offensive language” about the Rutgers women’s baskbetball (sic) team last Wednesday while discussing their defeat in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship.

I do not know understand how any national autism organization can be associated with someone who can use such hateful words.“

http://www.autismvox.com/one-thing-don-imus-shouldnt-have-said/

It should be noted that, just under a year ago, Imus’ MSNBC show broadcast A New Decade for Autism, a fundraising event at which the video Autism Every Day was first screened—a video which depicts life with autism as difficult (as it can be, but there are ways to change this, for sure) and hopeless; a video that was felt by more than a few autistic persons and parents of autistic children as portraying autism as horrrible and hateful only: No surprise, perhaps, that it had the endorsement of Imus.

http://www.autismvox.com/in-the-wake-of-imus-ouster/

The heinous crimes committed by Autism Speaks? Raising money for research and treatment of autistic children. The Autism Every Day video consisted of parents telling of the challenges presented by their childrens’ autism. For that these parents, along with MSNBC and Autism Speaks , have been vilified by the Neurodiversity movement. Until this week Ms Chew and Autism Vox had been polite and diplomatic in expressing her Neurodiversity anti-autism cure sentiments. The language above though removes the pretence of civility from Autism Vox.

The use by Ms Chew of Mr Imus’ offensive personal comments to smear an organization and group of parents fighting to improve the lives of their autistic children is itself offensive.

Autism Vox
? Autism Vox Falsus is more like it.

April 13, 2007 Posted by | Auism Vox, autism advocacy, autism disorder, autism every day, autism speaks, Don Imus, neurodiversity | 9 Comments

FEAT-BC Responds to Condescending Peace Arch News Editorial

Peace Arch News Editorial: “Help Pleas”

Mar 06 2007

Politics can seem a blood sport at times, but it doesn’t mean all the players would be wise to get dirty.

Take the most recent dispute over the Canada Health Act.

Parents of children with autism have been demanding for years that two types of treatment be funded – applied behavioral analysis and intensive behavioral intervention. They report that these treatments have proven successful in 40 per cent of autistic children, and therefore should be covered under the Canada Health Act.

A Feb. 21 vote in the House of Commons defeated a private member’s bill, C-304, that was purportedly intended to include these procedures in the act. The bill failed 155-113, with parents raking over the coals the Conservative MPs who voted against it.

Some vowed retaliation at the polls. Others angrily called individual MPs derogatory names. Some question the integrity of anyone who does not support this particular bill.

The MPs who voted against, including Russ Hiebert (South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale), said the wording of the bill would undermine the Canada Health Act, as well as the provincial governments that are supposed to govern our health system. By naming autism as the only affliction or disease in the act, the bill is “flawed.”

The parents’ argument is sympathetic. They are the ones on the frontline, trying their best to deal with their child’s disability and provide support.

And the Conservative argument, albeit legally sound, does little to help this distressful situation.

The parents, however, could also do more to advance their cause. No one should judge them for taking this issue personally. Nothing would be more personal than getting in between a parent and a child’s well being.

But by wading into the political arena and throwing muck on politicians with name calling and aspersions, they risk putting off objective members of the public who might support the cause.

Gaining this support is integral to finding a solution. Perhaps a bill will come forward that guarantees the treatment of all citizens with any serious disability, without naming specific afflictions.

Or perhaps it will be decided that provincial representatives are at the only political level that can effect change.

The parents can help find the solution, but only if their pleas fall on sympathetic ears.

F.E.A.T. of B.C’s Response To The Editorial

March 10, 2007

Editor,
Peace Arch News.

Dear Sir:

Re: “Help Pleas”

Your March 6th editorial concerning the emerging political involvement of parents who have an autistic child or children indicates clearly that you simply don’t “get it”. You’re stuck in an outmoded, and unhealthy, understanding of the relationship between those who would govern and those who are to be subject to such governance.

Canadian citizens have long ceased to be vassal-like supplicants, bowing their heads and tugging at their forelocks as their betters instruct them on what they might expect to receive by way of ex gratia beneficence from the all powerful State. It is not only the right but the duty of all Canadian citizens and, in particular, parents of disabled children to demand responsive performance from their elected representatives. If one or another bloviating politician fails to meet the expectations or betrays the trust of their electors, they deserve to be summarily consigned to the ash can of history. We have a moral obligation to rid the body politic of these less than useless individuals.

You claim the federal Conservative’s position is “legally sound”. Wrong again. The Supreme Court of Canada, in its 2004 Auton decision, told parents of autistic children that they must look to parliament for a solution to their demands. The operative statement of the relevant law, however, remains that of Justice Saunders, of the BC Court of Appeal, who stated, in Auton, that autism is a “socially constructed handicap”. What a damning indictment of our politicians and their backroom or bureaucratic advisors.

You suggest that parents of autistic children who wade into the political area risk “putting off objective members of the public who might support the cause”. Again, you’re way off base. Shortly after the Supreme Court’s watershed decision in Auton, an Ipsos-Reid poll found that fully 89% of Canadians supported Medicare coverage for the treatment of autism. It is only our myopic political class, superbly manipulated in “Yes, Minister” fashion by the blinkered bureaucracy, that opposes a fair and equitable solution to this pressing public policy issue.

Over the past decade, parents of autistic children have spent countless hours in futile meetings with elected representatives and senior bureaucrats, and have spent yet more time, and money, battling with one government or another before the courts. We are now doing what the Supreme Court of Canada has told us to do: we’re getting political.

You claim that parents’ pleas must fall on sympathetic ears in order for them to succeed in their quest for justice for their children. Wake up! This is 21st Century Canada. We’re through with pleading to anyone, let alone people whose salaries we pay. Either existing MPs, regardless of partisan affiliation, respond to reasonable demands being made on behalf of our children or we will move Heaven and Earth to replace them with others who will do so. That’s not a threat, it’s a promise.

Yours sincerely,

Jean Lewis,
Founding Director, FEAT-BC

March 20, 2007 Posted by | autism advocacy, autism awareness, autism disorder, autism treatment, politics | Leave a comment