Follow up with Ontario’s Ministry of Children And Youth Services on Autism Services

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I’ve received a follow up from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in Ontario regarding my son’s position (who is severely non-verbal autistic) after insisting on it regarding what we were told during the last conversation.  What I received back looked like a canned response. So here it is in full.  I’ll dissect the response.

Dear Mr. Koblovsky:

Thank you for your email regarding autism services for your son. I appreciate the opportunity to respond and provide you with some information.

With a canned pre-made template but okay I’ll listen.

The new Ontario Autism Program, which will begin in June 2017, will deliver individualized autism treatment that provides the intensity and flexibility of service to meet the individual needs of each child, regardless of his or her age.

As of April 1, 2016, children five and over are no longer eligible to apply for IBI. These children can apply for ABA services and receive ABA when a space becomes available. The ministry is increasing the number of spaces available in ABA beginning this year, and doubling the maximum intensity available for each child in 2017. These changes mean that more children who are waiting for ABA will receive services sooner, they will receive more service, and for longer than they would have before these changes.

What’s being said here is that my son who is 11 is no longer eligible to apply for intensive therapy.  The only therapy that is available for him is the ABA program.  That program only allows for 1 hour per week slots, and most of it is training the parents on ABA rather than observing the child.  The ministry is indicating it will “up” the program here to 2 hours per week?  Still not effective, not even close to being enough.  It’s a waste of money across the board.  This amount of therapy from our experience as well as many others hasn’t produced any successes I am aware of in its history.

The wait time for this ineffective therapy is 1 1/2 years! This is being used as “transitional” services by the ministry for kids who are over the age of 5.  Those that apply now for these services will not receive support until well after the new program takes place.  The government promised that all kids affected by this transition to the new program would receive intensive therapy no matter the age until the new program is in place.  Many parents were given upwards of $10K to purchase those supports, until the new program has been rolled out.  That doesn’t seem to be the case for my son, largely due to his age.

Beginning in 2017, children of all ages will be eligible to apply to the new program, and will receive more flexible and individualized services based on their needs. There will also be a single access point for autism services in each region, so that families do not have to apply to two separate programs.

It better not be Kinark! What this is saying to me, is parents will not be eligible to apply for the new program until it is rolled out.  Meaning there is no plan to have a wait list right now for that program. Those who were on the IBI wait list prior to April 1st, 2016 will keep their spot from what I understand, and those not on the wait list will have to wait for the new program in order to even get on this wait list and will be at the bottom of the barrel.  It is unclear from this whether those who are on the ineffective ABA wait list will have their spot in line transferred to the new program, or will this be an automatic transition with priority given to those who were on the wait list prior to April 1st, 2016 (most of which were the ones protesting at queens park), and our place in line determined in 2017.

I’m getting the feeling from the way this has all been set up, the “backtrack” was to make those who were the majority of the autism protests happy, and screw everyone else in the process.

Your email to Sharon Gabison from the Ontario Autism Coalition regarding your family’s situation was forwarded to your local ministry regional office. I understand the program supervisor contacted you to provide information on what services are currently available to your family. If you have any written documentation regarding your son’s past application to IBI, please contact Kinark or your ministry regional office.

I had previously stated that we had documentation from Kinark regarding our placement on the wait list for IBI.  Turns out that it was actually for the ineffective ABA program.  To date Kinark hasn’t sent anything to my family regarding putting my severely autistic son on the IBI wait list after repeated attempts to get them to do so.  I am aware and have forwarded another case to the minister directly where this has happened to another eligible family as well.  I have filed a ministerial complaint against Kinark, which I will be posting it later on this week.

We know the transition to an improved autism program may be challenging for some families. Information is available online at http://www.ontario.ca/autism on how the changes may have an impact on your family while transitioning to the Ontario Autism Program. It includes the changes that will occur and the next steps a family can expect.

The problem with this statement is they used the word “challenging”.  Parents of disabled kids have enough on our plates regarding “challenges”.   This represents a lack of understanding and complete ignorance of the challenges we face as care givers on any given day.  To add to these challenges intentionally is immoral, self serving, ignorant, and also representative of the fact that Kathleen Wynne was not listening to parents over the past few months that came to Queen’s Park looking for understanding from politicians on what we all have to go through on a day to day basis.

It seems to me, this “backtrack” on autism funding and age restrictions has been nothing more than smoke and mirrors, combined with an attempt to put lipstick on a pig.

If you have further questions or concerns about specific services in your community, you may find it helpful to contact Greg Ladyka, Program Supervisor, at 905-952-1907, or Brenda LeMoine, Community Program Manager, at 905-952-1901.

Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.

Elsbeth Schokking
Assistant Deputy Minister’s Office
Service Delivery Division
Ministry of Children and Youth Services

A very junior contact being provided to members of the Ontario Autism Coalition.  Politically that states that autism services isn’t very high on the priority list anymore after the protests died out.  In solidarity to the autism community on behalf of my son who has been waiting 6 1/2 years for intensive therapy:

thefight

hunger games

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Ministry Staffer Claims His Boss Mislead Public On Restoring Autism Funding in Ontario

 

MichaelCoteau

(Ontario’s Minister Of Child and Youth Services Michael Coteau (above) And Premier Kathleen Wynne called out on false statements regarding Autism funding by Ministry staffer)

A few months ago, the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services announced plans to “restore” autism funding for intensive therapy.  On the Ministry’s own website and press releases during this announcement the Ministry told the public that “all children with autism regardless of age will get the services they need at the intensity they need.” According to sources within the Ministry I spoke with today regarding getting my own son the therapy he needs, the ministry staffer acknowledged that statement provided by the Ministry to the public is indeed false.

My son who is now 11 received a recommendation by several specialists (to which is documented) for Intensive Behavior Intervention (IBI) therapy.  That was in 2010.  I called Kinark who handles the wait lists for IBI shortly after this recommendation in 2010 (my son was 5 at the time), and during that call we were put on the wait list and told we would have an assessment 6 months prior to receiving IBI.  We were told the wait list was about 2 1/2 years so we should get a call within the 2 year mark.

In 2012 we didn’t receive word regarding any assessments from Kinark.  I called to follow up only to be told we were not on the wait list. We went through the intake process for IBI yet again.  At the time we were experiencing major anxiety issues and self-injurious behaviors with my son along with toileting issues.  I asked Kinark if we there was any immediate support available, they told me no and to apply for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) until we received IBI.  Once IBI was involved it would take over the ABA therapy I was told.

Between 2012 – 2013 we received ABA.  ABA was 1 hour per week for 8 weeks, most of which was done without my son being observed, and mostly done with my wife and I at home while my son was attending school.  The goals set out in the training as a result were not successful.  As a result both my wife and I decided to not follow through with another block of ABA since we were not seeing the results and my son needed to be properly observed through a more intensive process. We wanted to wait until IBI was involved. In late 2013 we connected with Kinark again, to find out once again my son was NOT put on the wait list.  We were assured that would happen for the third time.

Fast forward to last week. We still hadn’t heard anything from Kinark.  I followed up with them, only to be told that my son is now 11 and does not qualify for intensive therapy anymore as per the new ministerial guidelines released to the public in June.  They told me to connect with the Children’s Treatment Network to get on the centralized ABA wait list for the one hour per week sessions we had done before and were not successful.

With the help of the Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC) I forwarded off the medical documents from 2010 recommending my son to IBI with Kinark and basically stated what I had just written above to the Ministry of Child and Youth Services for investigation and follow up.  I got a follow up call today from the Ministry.

Right from the beginning of that conversation I got the impression that they were not going to help, and they were even questioning whether or not we got the recommendation from our doctors and specialists for IBI, all while the staffer had the paperwork I submitted into OAC from the doctors for just that in front of him.  It took him 5 mins to look through 8 pages, and he still disagreed with me regarding the recommendation stating he couldn’t “find it”.  I pointed him to the page # on where the recommendation was and had him read to me line by line.

Once he got to the recommendation, the ministry staffer stated that regardless of what was on the paper, that the only thing Kinark had a record of was my call in 2012 for ABA.  There was no record of my son on the IBI wait list. Say what?  I asked the staffer what our options were, again I was told to apply for the centralized ABA wait list.  I brought up my concerns regarding the one hour per week ABA therapy, only to be told that was our ONLY option.

I asked: “Are you telling me that Kathleen Wynne’s promise to get autism kids the therapy they need at the intensity they need is false and misleading?”

He replied: “Yes as it stands right now.”

He then stated that any issues between Kinark and my family regarding the wait lists were a private matter and the ministry would not intervene.

So with my son now hitting puberty and the accelerated behavioral issues that come with that stage in life, we still don’t have the intensive therapy that has been recommended by at least 4 specialists 6 ½ years ago and from what the Ministry has told me today, that’s not on the horizon either.  Kathleen Wynne needs to explain to the people of Ontario who were behind the parents of autistic kids, exactly what the heck is going on, and why parents and kids months after this announcement are still NOT getting the services they need at the intensity they need, and why she has mislead the public in believing that this therapy was restored?

Author’s Note: I want to make it clear, that I’ve heard of several stories from specialists and from parents that Kinark is notorious for “losing” paperwork.  I’m not the first one with this problem and it extends to other regional providers as well. This needs to be immediately addressed.

What our family desperately needs right now is a commitment that my son will get the therapy he needs at the intensity he needs at some point in the future, in writing from the Ministry with a date on when to expect it, so we can develop a support plan with my sons school, and support network who have been waiting for 6 1/2 years for this support to be in place.  I did not get that commitment from the Ministry today, nor was any attempt made at resolving the lack of intensive supports for my son, nor given any direction on which to take to ensure my son at some point would receive the intensive therapy he needs as directed by documents submitted to the ministry and promised by the Premier.

As it stands right now, and from my conversations with the ministry and Kinark, my son will not be getting the intensive treatment he needs as promised by Wynne regardless of the circumstances, due to his age, and he’s not alone.

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China’s Artificially Created Housing Bubble In Canada Set To Burst Warnings Suggest

chinacanada

It’s been no surprise that Canada has long been in a housing bubble.  Foreign investors from China have been buying up property in Canadian cities for years, and reselling them to Canadians for way more than the property is worth.  China seems to be intentionally creating a housing bubble in Canada.  What Chinese investors are doing is buying up property, and immediately reselling the property to the highest bidder even before the closing date of the first sale.  This cycle can repeat as much as 3 or 4 times prior to the closing date of the first buyer, artificially driving up the costs of real estate property.  There are signs that the artificially created housing bubble is about to burst.

Last month the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (Canada’s financial watchdog) stated that Canadian banks need to be stress tested against a 30% drop in housing prices, echoing concerns from the Bank of Canada in June.  Last week Chinese media has been warning investors in that country to pull out of the Canadian real estate market, and is expecting a housing crash one that could rival or even be worse than the US housing market crash of 2008.

In 2010 the director of CSIS Richard Fadden warned Canadians in an interview with the CBC that the biggest risk to Canadian security wasn’t from terror groups but from foreign powers that are infiltrating Canadian politics and influencing public servants, fueling a growing concern about economic espionage.  Little was done to correct the housing bubble by the Conservatives when they were in power.  Little has been done by the Liberals either since they have taken control of the House of Commons last year. Vancouver recently passed laws to increase taxes on foreign real estate investors to help curb the growing concern regarding this artificially created bubble, however there are a lot of doubts whether or not it will work.

Why hasn’t anything been done to completely correct this bubble and warn off concerns of economic espionage? Governments of all levels seem to be cashing in on the taxes of these sales, that’s one reason.  The other is because any major correction in the housing market could see that bubble burst with fears of major economic instability.  This leaves Canada’s economic future purely in the hands of China, in which it seems they are now moving to burst this bubble intentionally by warning off that country’s investors.

Canada shed 31,200 full time jobs last month.  While our prime minister is running around the country shirtless, there has been no word on what our federal government is doing to curb the current housing crisis it inherited from the Conservatives.  As result of the current series of warnings and years of inaction, we could be in for a very rough ride ahead.  Ontario will be hit particularity hard.  A large segment of our population, and many businesses here in Ontario can’t even afford to keep the lights on. Gas rates set to rise as well.  There also has been absolutely no word from the Ontario government on what they plan on doing to also head this expected downfall in housing prices, and economic instability as a result.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Explained Perfectly

whatisTPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement mostly negotiated in secret by quite a few governments bordering the pacific ocean.  Canada has been a part of these negotiations and is committed to ratifying the treaty.  Both US presidential candidates are now on the record against this treaty, while current US president Barack Obama has vowed to ratify the treaty in his lame duck session of his second term.  So what exactly is the TPP?

I’ve come across a recently posted video on youtube that very clearly explains the TPP and concerns regarding the ratification of the treaty in the below video.  Warning that this video is also NSFW and contains strong language:

For those of you who want an in-depth policy and law look at the concerns of ratifying the TPP; Canadian Internet law expert Michael Geist has an excellent in depth series of blogs on quite a few concerns with ratifying the TPP for those of you who like your policy research. I’ll be writing my own series of blogs on the TPP in the coming months as well.

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Protection Our Constitutional Rights Should Be A Priority For Trudeau As A Result Of Trump Nomination

o-BILL-C51

(Anti-terror bill C51 just took on a whole new face with Donald Trump’s nomination for US President)

 

Has anyone noticed that one of the major policy promises the Trudeau Liberals were elected on seems to be missing in action?  When Justin Trudeau took office it seems like the mad rush to legalize pot was more of a priority than our charter rights.  Just this spring the government announced plans to legalize pot by spring of 2017, yet the government hasn’t committed “yet” to looking at our draconian anti-terror legislation which was a major issue due to the Liberals position of support for the legislation prior to our election last year.

During the 2015 federal election campaign Trudeau and fellow Liberals were blasted over their support for the Conservative lead anti-terror bill.  Trudeau committed to voters that if elected he would overhaul the bill, rather than scrap it, too ensure it was compliant with Canadian Charter rights.  Around the same time the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression launched a charter challenge on the bill.

It very well could be that the government is waiting on the decision of the charter challenge (which can take years if not decades) before Canadians can expect any meaningful changes to the bill.  The lack of response from the Liberal government to protect Canadians constitutional rights should be way more of concern now especially with Donald Trump being nominated the republican nominee for president state side.  Most of our Internet traffic routes through the US than back to Canada, and the US is no stranger to its mass collection of data that crosses its boarders.

Back a few years ago the collection of data to root out possible terror attacks was front and center of a global debate on personal privacy online.  Heading up that debate was a former National Security Agency (NSA) systems administrator Edward Snowden who leaked several documents to journalists detailing the mass invasion of privacy in the US and around the globe. Snowden came out strong on ones right to privacy.  On the other side of that debate was General Michael Hayden who stated that collection of data was necessary to protect the US homeland from attacks.  Now even Hayden is extremely concerned about what a Trump presidency could bring (especially at time index 5:07 in the below video):

It’s not just nukes the world needs to worry about, it’s how our private data would be used by the US under Trump; I would even state under Hillary Clinton as well.  In the face of what is happening in US politics right now, Canadian law makers need to assure Canadians that our data remains private, secure, and out of the hands of foreign countries. We need immediate action on bill C-51 as a result.

 

 

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Ontario’s New Autism Policy Not Going Over Well With Parents

pig-lipstick

(Ontario’s new autism policy lipstick on a pig, rather than implementing needed changes)

With the Ontario Government announcing major funding initiatives over the past few months, it looks like autism services are not high on its priority list.  Back in March, the Ontario government announced that it was going to do away with much needed intensive therapy for autistic kids over the age of 5.  That was later “back tracked” in June after parents of autistic kids held massive protests against the new policy claiming that #autistimdoesntendat5 and after experts came out strongly against Ontario’s move to eliminate intensive therapy for autistic kids over 5.  It appears the Ontario government didn’t back track at all, and is refusing to put the needed money into funding intensive therapy for kids.

One of the main points for parents with autistic kids back in March was the elimination of Intensive Behavior Intervention therapy (IBI).  The lack of intensity in autism therapy in the new program announced in March was a trigger point for the parent protests.  From a policy perspective, intensive therapy is expensive. The government announced $333 million in March towards the new program topped up with another $200 million (only for those who are currently on wait lists, not those actively seeking to get on wait lists) to purchase therapy while this new program has been phased in.  All of this sounds like a lot of money, but it isn’t even close in order to fund the intensity of the therapy needed which can run close to $60,000 per child per year.

Nothing has been “restored” as a result of parent’s protests.  Instead what Wynne has done was re-package the old plan announced in March, and re-branded it to try and quell parental and public decent.

 

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A month after the news that autism funding was going to be “restored” parents are starting to realize that they’ve been deceived. IBI therapy has still largely been cut from the new program meaning that intensity of therapy needed for many children will not be reached, and parents are starting to speak out:

“They are still delaying what our children need. Still cutting back the hours for the children who are already getting the services need.”

After the announcement last month which was lauded by all leaders of Ontario’s political parties as being a big win for democracy, I checked out the Ministry of Children and Youth Services only to find an exact carbon copy of the Government’s talking points on the program changes back in March. It very much seems that the government is not willing to put the needed investment into some of our most vulnerable, nor is making them a priority.  This is not representative of the people of Ontario, and all our politicians need to take note rather than cheering for democracy, when the devil is in the details, and the lack of response this government has had on special needs constituents.

 

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US Election 2016 Coverage – Mindbending Style

 

Over the next few weeks, and months I plan on doing a few blogs on the US election.  I think the rest of the world needs to sit down and have an honest conversation with our American cousins. Jeff Jefferies, has some good thoughts about that.  Warning below video uses explicit language and is NSFW:

 

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