According to Autism Speaks, Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys. The 2012 numbers reflect a 78% increase in reported prevalence in the last 6 years. This is a growing problem, impacting more and more families each year.
With growing numbers of affected children, wait times in Ontario for assessment and treatment have increased to an unacceptable level. Recently, the Ontario Government made changes to its policy on Autism care in hopes to reduce wait times for those families seeking assistance. While these changes may be beneficial for children aged 2-4 seeking diagnosis and treatment, those 5 and older will no longer be eligible for government funded Intensive Behavioural Intervention services, even if they have been on a wait list for years.
Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) is the application of the principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) in an intensive, highly structured format. It is a comprehensive approach that is used to teach a broad range of skills, such as communication, socialization, self-help, pre-academics, and play. All IBI programs are individualized to the strengths and needs of each child and therapy decisions are based on a comprehensive review of program data. The goal of IBI is to help young children with Autism catch up developmentally to their peers. This means that IBI aims to increase the rate of a child’s learning, to bring their skills closer to those of typically-developing children, to decrease their symptoms, and to prepare them for an appropriate school setting.
The government will be providing a one-time payment of $8000 to families with children 5 and over, however, it is only a drop in the bucket for the amount of money required for this type of vital treatment.
The following from CTV News shows the frustration and abandonment families with Autistic children 5 and over are feeling:
How can you stand up for the rights of the affected families? Let the Ontario Government know that they have gotten it wrong by signing the petition to Oppose the new Ontario Autism Program’s elimination of IBI eligibility for Children over 5.
To learn more about the changes and how you may be affected please visit the Ontario Autism Program website.
And please, tell us what you think: did the government get it wrong?