The new changes to autism programs in Ontario may be for the better, but still have a ways to go
ONTARIO -- On June 28. the parents who have been fighting for more than three months against changes the Ontario Liberals made to autism programs, finally got what they wanted.
Michael Coteau, the Minister of Children and Youth Services announced that the previous and controversial changes made by Premier Kathleen Wynne were being tweaked, and families need not worry about their kids getting the care they need.
Back in March the Wynne government announced that children five and older will stop receiving funding for Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) treatment, and instead start receiving Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) treatment because they were rolling out a new program in 2018.
According to the Geneva Centre for Autism, IBI helps children “learn to learn” by helping them grow their attention and co-operation, and is designed to prepare children for school. ABA is used for school age children to not only help them continue to grow and develop, but also enhance their social and personal well-being.
For the almost two-year period before the new program started, families of more than 830 children would be taken off a wait list, and be given $8,000 to pay for treatment, an amount parents said would not come close to helping their children.
According to Coteau the new program will now be implemented in June 2017, which is one-year earlier than previously planned. Children over five will also be provided with a direct-funding amount of $10,000 as needed to purchase individual treatment services, or be given immediate access to ABA treatment.
Parents of children with autism like Rebecca Haight feel like this is a step in the right direction, however, they could still make it better.
“The plan they have put forth does seem to address the need for intensity, but a block of service for 10-weeks is not adequate for a child on the spectrum,” said Haight. “They need and benefit from more intensive therapy, currently children receiving IBI get up to 20-hours a week.”
While the government changes have some families overjoyed, parents like Jennifer Taylor believe the government still has a ways to go when it comes to autism by, finally considering it a medical condition.
“They have not acknowledged that autism is a medical condition and it comes with a ray of medical issues,” said Taylor. “If the government acknowledged it then all services would be covered under OHIP.”
Because of some of the costs that families dealing with autism still endure due to financial burdens, Haight and Taylor, along with the group Standup for Kids with Autism have organized a fundraiser event coming up Aug. 14, in Niagara Falls.
The group has organized a day of fun which will be headlined by a co-ed baseball tournament, and will also include six live bands, local vendors, a silent auction, and fun activities for the family.
“We are planning our first event to be a day full of fun, laughter, and memories,” said Taylor. “Plus who doesn’t love baseball?”
The hopes for this event will be to expand it across Ontario next year so they can continue to help families with autism by continuing to give 100 per cent of the profits to those in need.
Registration for the tournament is on now and goes until Aug. 7, The early bird entry runs until July. 20, and costs $300, entering from July. 21, onward will cost $350.
The event will be held at Patrick Cummings Park, 9000 Sodom Rd. Niagara Falls, Ont.
To register contact Jennifer Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Over the past few months it’s clear that parents will truly never stop fighting for their children, and while the future for the Liberal Government in Ontario could be up in the air due to their many blunders, there is one thing that people need to make sure they know about children with autism.
“Kids with autism are like any other child, they want to have friends, they may learn a little differently and see the world in a unique way but they aren’t different,” said Haight. “Don’t let autism define them.”