Autism Reality

Conor’s St. Patrick’s Day Snow Fun




St. Patrick’s Day often brings a snow storm in our parts. This year was no exception with snow turning into freezing rain this morning. Conor wasn’t a bit fazed by the weather though and didn’t hesitate to head outdoors for some more snow fun.

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March 17, 2007 Posted by | autism, Conor, funding, Saint Patrick's Day, snow | Leave a comment

Funding Critical to Autism Research

In the excitement of the big autism genome breakthrough the Montreal Gazette offers an important reminder that the research behind this breakthrough was made possible by funding. Funding is critical to sustained uninterrupted research. Now is not the time for complacency. Now is the time to move ahead with more research and with more funding to ensure that the research continues.

Thank you to Dr. Peter Szatmari and all involved in this collaborative effort. As a Canadian I am very proud of the Canadians who led this research effort and I hope that our federal government shows some heart, and some good sense, and continue to fund autism research.

Funding helped autism discovery

The Gazette

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2007

News of a breakthrough in understanding the genetics of autism, which was splashed dramatically across the world’s front pages yesterday, provides a precious lesson in the value of research.

The discovery came from a vast sleuthing effort: More than 130 researchers from 50 institutions in eight countries made scans of DNA from 8,000 people in 1,600 families. From all that data, scientists uncovered two new mutations possibly linked to an increased risk of susceptibility to autism, a neurological condition of varying degrees of complexity. The breakthrough should lead, via more accurate diagnostic tests, to earlier, more pertinent therapy.

All those resources were mobilized because of the growing realization that autism is far more widespread than previously thought, touching as many as one child in 165.

Canadians were among the scientists who led the effort. Peter Szatmari, director of the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster Children’s Hospital, is described as setting the groundwork for the international effort that got under way in 2002. Steve Scherer, senior scientist of genetics and genomic biology at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, is a project co-leader.

The international research effort is run by the Autism Genome Project, Canada’s part of which is underwritten by a $6.9-million grant from Genome Canada, primary funder in Canada of genomics and proteomics research.

Every Canadian should be proud this country has contributed to this promising research.

Despite some recent successes, Canada’s investment in scientific research has not been everything it could be. In 2005, 40 prominent scientists criticized the Liberal government’s funding policy, which required scientists seeking federal funding to find matching money elsewhere. The scientists argued scientific excellence alone should be considered, because premature emphasis on commercial application could stifle basic research.

Ottawa has since 1999 pumped more than $7 billion into scientific research – enough to keep top scientists in the country. But that funding could come to an abrupt end once $400 million in grants announced in November by Industry Minister Maxime Bernier runs out.

The dangers of this kind of off-and-on-again approach to funding were explained to The Gazette in 2004 by Sean Taylor, project manager for the Montreal Proteomics Network: “You don’t invest all this money in burgeoning fields like genomics and proteomics, and then just drop it,” he said. For Canada to become a research hub, scientists need time and secure funding, Taylor said.

Alberta, at least, seems to understand that. Last week, it announced it will use money from the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research to try to attract – and keep – “superstar” medical researchers to the province. What a good investment.

February 20, 2007 Posted by | Autism Genome Project, autism spectrum disorder, funding, govenrment, research, Szatmari | Leave a comment

Parents Sue Ontario Government for Autism Treatment

Once again, parents of autistic children in Canada are forced to go to court to seek government funded therapy for their children. If only governments would put as much effort and resources into providing therapy for autistic children and less into resisting their parents efforts to obtain a better life for their children.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2007/02/02/ontario-lawsuit.html

Parents sue Ontario for autism treatment
Last Updated: Friday, February 2, 2007 | 1:28 PM ET
CBC News

Parents of autistic children are appearing in a Toronto court Friday to try force the Ontario government to pay for their children’s treatment.

The parents are currently being forced to pay for the therapy out of their own pockets, often at a cost of thousands of dollars.

Five families are part of the group that launched a $1.25-billion lawsuit. They claim that seven school boards and the government have discriminated against their children and denied them a public education by failing to provide access to specialized treatment in school.

David Baker, a lawyer representing the families, argued in court Thursday that families are being forced to choose between sending their autistic children to school or paying for costly intensive behavioural intervention therapy.

Private therapy costs between $30,000 and $80,000 a year for one child.
‘Just another Band-Aid solution’: parent

The lawsuit marks the latest battle between parents of autistic children and the province.

Last July, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled the province does not have to pay for costly specialized autism treatment for children ages six and older.

Since the ruling, the government has said will provide funding to treat autistic children over six years of age if an assessment shows they are in need.

Two weeks ago, Ontario promised to boost spending on a program to provide therapy by $13 million, increasing total spending on autism to $115 million a year.

One parent involved in the lawsuit criticized the funding as “just another Band-Aid solution.”

Opposition parties say the government has spent much less on autism programs than promised in the 2003 election campaign.

February 2, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, funding, Ontario, therapy | Leave a comment

Please Honor Premier Graham’s Autism Training Commitment

January 14 2007

Hon. Victor Boudreau
Minister of Finance

Dear Hon. Minister Boudreau:

I am writing to ask that you honor the commitment made by now Premier Shawn Graham during the recent election campaign during which time he promised to provide training for 100 Teachers’ Aides and Resource Teachers per year for the next four years at the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program. The fulfillment of this promise is of vital importance to the education of autistic children. These children are not receiving the “cadillac treatment” in New Brunswick schools right now. Far from it.

For many autistic students fulfillment of Premier Graham’s promise will mean the difference between staying in school and not being sent home because teachers, aides, and other professionals did not understand their behavior and the conditions in the schools which can seriously disrupt environmentally sensitive and communication challenged children. For a great many others it will mean the difference between receiving a real education and simply being babysat as a false testament to New Brunswick’s inclusive education system. Teachers can not commit the time and attention needed to educate autistic children properly and instruct the rest of the class. Most autistic students need TA’s for safety reasons. It makes no sense whatsoever not to provide autism trained TA’s to assist them in learning. The UNB-CEL program is top notch and offers training in autism and the methods that work in educating autistic children.

My profoundly autistic son is almost eleven years of age. The previous government dragged out the Interdepartmental Committee Report on autism services for two years before issuing a report in 2001. The report went unread for another year by the lead minister charged with the autism portfolio. Most of its recommendations remain unfulfilled. My son is growing older. He has had properly trained TA’s for two of his six school years but even now with an excellent well trained TA she is not permitted to spend the full day with him and there is no one to replace her when she is absent for personal reasons. Many autistic students have TA’s with no autism specific training or no TA at all.

Do not underestimate the importance of the Premier’s commitment to train TA’s and Resource teachers to work with our autistic children Mr. Boudreau. They have lost out too long. They need autism trained personnel to help them learn and they need them now. Delay is not an option. Understand their needs, respect the Premier’s commitment and authorize the necessary funding.

Respectfully,

Harold L. Doherty
Fredericton NB

cc. Education Minister Lamrock
Justice Minister & Fredericton-Nashwaaksis MLA Burke
Autism Society New Brunswick

January 14, 2007 Posted by | aba, autism, commitment, education, funding, honor, TA's, teachers, training | 1 Comment