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

What Does Throne Speech Autism Commitment Mean?

Yesterday I commented that the Graham government’s throne speech contained good news for students with autism because the speech contained a commitment to autism specific training for TA’s. Opposition leader Shawn Graham had committed during the campaign to training 100 TA’s and Resource teachers per year for the next 4 years via the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program. This morning’s Telegraph Journal APPEARED to indicate a major watering down of that commitment though indicating in a story carried on page A3 , that Education Minister Lamrock was committing to 100 TA’s over the course of his government’s mandate. The Minister also appeared to be wavering over whether the training would be done by the UNB-CEL folks, widely respected by the NB Autism Community and across Canada or on the cheap by Department of Education civil servants. The difference is substantial.


– Telegraph Journal, February 7, 2007, Joshua Errett Minister promises 100 autism support workers in schools

There are literally hundreds of students with autism in New Brunswick schools. Many are effectively excluded from receiving a real education because they do not have the autism trained personnel working with them to assist their learning by specialized methodologies such as Applied Behavior Analysis. They have been betrayed by New Brunswick politicians before. In the past an interdepartmental (Education, Family Services, Health) committee (the IDC) was established to examine autism services in New Brunswick. The IDC took almost two years to conclude that autism specific services were virtually non-existent. It issued a report and recommendations which sat unread by the lead Minister on the IDC, for almost a full year and most of its recommendations were never fulfilled and are now seriously outdated. Autistic children do not need any more political betrayals. Hopefully, the new Liberal government is not about to water down its commitment to a fraction of what Mr. Graham promised.

On May 4, 2004 a Fredericton Liberal MLA stood in front of the Centennial Building with protesting parents of autistic school children and said “”We can do better. We know the options,… “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.

Daily Gleaner, May 4, 2004, Joel Kane, Parents march to protest tight funding for autism

I hope that Education Minister Lamrock remembers his words from May 4, 2004, remembers Mr. Grahams campaign commitment and honors that commitment fully.

February 7, 2007 Posted by | ABAA, autism, autism education, autism support workers, campaign promises, Daily Gleaner, Education Minister Kelly Lamrock, Premier Shawn Graham, TA's, Telegraph Journal, UNB-CEL | Leave a comment