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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  1. #1 by autistinquisitor on July 25, 2016 - 2:14 PM

    An #actuallyautistic person here.

    You might notice that these is entirely parent-led. Now, I don’t know whether or not you’ve actually looked into the ABA controversy, so I’ll explain it to you, as an autistic and neurodiversity advocate.

    Classic ABA, historically, was created with the idea that autistic brains were broken/crippled, and needed to be fixed. It has a pathology view of autism, as a disease that needs to be cured. As such, it focuses more on making someone seem “less autistic”, and classic ABA therapies would have focused on making them appear normal rather than actually teaching them helpful skills. This includes things like forcing eye-contact, or regulating stimming (self-stimulatory movements like hand-flapping). A common phrase ABA therapists have been known to use is “quiet hands”. Autistic advocates are against this the most.

    This may sound somewhat venomous, but I and several other autistic people are sick of autism politics and policies being entirely parent-centered. We need more actual autistic leadership and influence. ABA may be improving, and if it is, that’s a good thing, but I oppose the treatment on principle because it’s rooted in the idea that autistic people are broken and need fixing. It is my hope that in the future, better therapies that actually help autistic people while accepting them, are developed.

    I have seen autistic people being treated like animals, even by their own parents at times. As long as ABA is the dominant therapy, this type of treatment will always be acceptable. ABA wants to make us “less autistic” to make non-autistic people feel comfortable, rather than teaching the world to accept autism.

    We need to move from the pathology view to the neurodiversity view. Autism is not a disorder.

    Like

    • #2 by Jason Koblovsky on July 25, 2016 - 2:32 PM

      Very well put! While I am a parent of an autistic, I have long held the view that if we are going to develop positive and proactive policy those that are directly affected need to be directly involved. ALL voices need to be heard!

      Just because someone is autistic doesn’t mean they don’t have their own voice, and I think it’s extremely important that those who have been through these therapies need to come forth big time with their thoughts and views.

      As parents however, also understand that while a lot of this is parent led, a kid at 5 years old or even 11 years old (as in my case) doesn’t have that voice “yet” or the experience in the system to voice their own concerns.

      Either way I think this should be a learning experience for all, and for once I would love to see politics set a side, and the right thing done. I think that Wynne should commit to an open public consultation.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Follow up with Ontario’s Ministry of Children And Youth Services on Autism Services | Mind Bending Politics
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