UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Julie Green and her son. (Photo courtesy Julie Green)

Ontario autism program doesn't fit my son

The author's child learned to write thanks to a private occupational therapist, and she worries her family will get little or no money under the government's new plan

By Julie Green

Imagine this: Two people walk into a hospital. One has a paper cut, the other is bleeding profusely. Both are offered identical Band-Aids and sent on their way. Another person enters. They too need medical attention, but are told to go and buy their own Band-Aids.

Welcome to the one-size-fits-all autism program proposed by the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, where eligibility for services will be based on factors like age and income, rather than individual need.

Sure, wait times will be drastically reduced — if only because my 10-year-old and thousands like him will be mostly excluded. Under the new program, which comes into effect on April 1, services will be allocated on a sliding scale, according to the number of years in service (i.e. a child’s age), as well as a family’s income. If my son receives support at all, it will be negligible and insufficient to meet his needs.

Why should taxpayer dollars fund therapy for kids with autism, anyway? Why should I support your child with a disability? Those without a personal connection to autism may ask themselves such questions. The reason is simple. Because the Canada I know is not — and hopefully never will be — a country driven purely by self-interest. The Canada I know prides itself on access to universal health care, education and unemployment benefits. We have a safety net of services at our disposal should we need them. We believe that everyone deserves a fighting chance to live up to their potential and contribute to society in a meaningful way.

People with autism can and do contribute to society in a meaningful way, if we give them what they need to flourish. But the Ontario government will rob some of our most vulnerable citizens of that opportunity. I've seen firsthand the impact that evidence-based interventions, including speech and occupational therapy, can make. Children with no speech, suddenly talking in full sentences. Children who cannot eat or use the toilet independently, gaining the skills to work and live autonomously. My son, who struggled to hold a pencil, learned to write thanks to a private occupational therapist. If we don't give this generation the support they need now, the cost to our country in years to come will be devastating.

With little or no access to funding or services, where will all these children end up? In public schools grossly unprepared to teach them. In front of doctors grossly unprepared to treat them. They will grow into teenagers and then adults in need of care and housing. All at the expense of Ontarians.

Autism in Canada does not just affect 1 in 66 kids and their families — it affects us all.

For more of The United Church Observer's award-winning content, subscribe to the magazine today.  


Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Columns

(Photo: cuatrok77/Flickr via Creative Commons)

Cormorants aren't the devil

by Douglas Hunter

Ontario's proposed new measures amount to a slaughter of an entire native bird species for no scientifically compelling reason, says this writer

Promotional Image

Editorials

The United Church Observer's editor and publisher, Jocelyn Bell. (Photo: Lindsay Palmer)

The new name of 'The Observer' revealed!

by Jocelyn Bell

"United Church" will no longer be on the cover, but our commitment to sharing denominational news and perspectives remains the same

Promotional Image

Video

Meet beloved church cats Mable and Mouse

by Observer Staff

They're a fixture of Kirk United Church Centre in Edmonton.

Promotional Image

Society

February 2019

Marriage problems: Is the ancient tradition worth saving?

by Pieta Woolley

Bitterness and boredom seem to define many mid-life marriages, but we might not have to settle for apathy ever after

Ethics

February 2019

A Yukon artist and a Tlingit trapper create this stunning jewelry

by Amy van den Berg

The fur jewelry in Whitehorse boutique store V. Ægirsdóttir is creating a new possibility for future partnerships with the region's trappers

Columns

February 2019

Why white people need to stop asking, 'where are you from?'

by Mike Sholars

"...For all intents and purposes, Canada is the only home I really recognize or remember. But none of that matters if I look like I don’t belong, and that single question makes that abundantly clear every single time."

Promotional Image