More than ten years ago our organization fought against age-six cutoff for the Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) program for children with autism. We held 26 rallies in cities across Ontario, from Windsor to Ottawa, from Grimsby to Sudbury. We managed to get the government to keep their promise to end those age cutoffs. But the Ontario government has announced that it will enact an even more restrictive age cutoff for the IBI program than the one we managed to get them to strike down 11 years ago. Now the cutoff will be five years of age. Thousands of children will be dumped in the blink of an eye, with no alternative program in sight until 2018. We’re going to have to do it all over again. Rallies, petitions, letters, meetings, and a very creative “more.” Please join us (t’s free) by clicking on the “Join Us” link at the left. You can also join our Facebook group. And ask your friends to do the same. It will take a lot of people to make enough noise to get this disaster fixed.
Here’s the story from CBC news:
CBC News Posted: Mar 30, 2016 7:55 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 30, 2016 7:55 PM ET
Ontario strategy to tackle autism therapy wait list leaves parents ‘very livid’
Changes would see intensive therapy eliminated for children 5 and up
The Ontario government’s new plan to tackle wait list times for autism therapy has two Ottawa-area parents airing their concerns. (Mike Crawley/CBC)
The Ontario government’s plan to reduce autism treatment wait times by gradually eliminating intensive therapy for children five years and older is being harshly criticized by two Ottawa-area parents of children with autism.
“[It’s] a horrible blow to our family and so many other children that will be taken off the wait list, that have not even had the opportunity to get services through the program,” said Tanya Corey, whose four-year-old son Lucas has been on the intensive therapy wait list for 17 months.
There is absolutely no proof out there that once a child turns five … they will not benefit from this therapy
In the $133-billion budget, tabled in February, the Liberals promised $333 million to “redesign and consolidate” services for children and youth with autism.
This week, the government unveiled its strategy for reducing autism therapy wait times — and one key tenet of that strategy involves eliminating intensive behavioural intervention therapy, or IBI, for children aged five and up.
According to the statement from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, IBI will be refocused on children between the ages of two and four. Children over five who currently receive IBI will be gradually moved to “more clinically appropriate Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) services,” the ministry said.
—Tanya Corey, parent of a child with autism
“The new approach is informed by advice from families, clinical experts and the Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinical Expert Committee,” the ministry said.
“It is consistent with scientific evidence and will provide a more responsive continuum of supports.”
According to a Freedom of Information request filed by the NDP, thousands more children are on the provincial wait lists than 10 years ago, and there are signs that the number of children receiving autism therapy may actually be dropping.
Minister of Children and Youth Services Tracy MacCharles could not be reached for an interview Thursday afternoon.
Corey told Alan Neal, the host of CBC Ottawa’s All In A Day, that putting the IBI cutoff at five years old was completely arbitrary.
“There are other studies that have shown that children between the ages of two and six have the most progress and benefit the most from this,” she said.
$8,000 in one-time funding
“There is absolutely no proof out there that once a child turns five … they will not benefit from this therapy.”
Heather Bourdon, whose son Jacob turns five in April, told All In A Day she was “very livid” when she heard the news.
She said the government’s strategy may be designed to reduce wait times, but it doesn’t address one important underlying factor: the length of time it takes for children to get a proper autism diagnosis.
“In Ontario, the average age of diagnosis is four years old,” she said.
“So if you’re not familiar with autism and your doctor is not familiar, then by the time you actually notice [the symptoms] and by the time you wait for the diagnosis, your child will be past this window of opportunity.”
As part of the new strategy, the province is planning to establish an advisory group made up of parents, service providers and other experts to make the transition a smooth one.
Families who have children five years and older on the IBI wait list will also receive a one-time payment of $8,000 to “immediately purchase community services or supports based on their children’s specific needs,” the ministry said.
Corey dismissed that promise as nothing more than “hush money.”
“I think it’s disgraceful. It’s not even a drop in the bucket of what these children would be getting if they were getting the IBI that we were told they were going to get.”