Hello, my name is Michele Evans I am the mother of five beautiful daughters, two of which have autism.
I am here today to fight for them and all of our children.
The Autism program in Ontario is not a partisan issue and has been ongoing for families like mine for a very long time
Ava, who was diagnosed in 2010 at five years old and was placed on a waiting list. It wasnít for therapy but for an assessment to see if she was eligible for IBI.
Two years later we were told that Ava was too disabled to benefit from IBI. We of course appealed but to no avail.
Can you imagine your own government writing off your child at seven years old?
Fast forward to the previous OAP when we were given a glimmer of hope that Ava might be able to access proper therapy. But here we find ourselves with that hope ripped away.
Ava who is now 14 years old and requires help with all daily living skills. She needs help with everything from diapers, to getting dressed and even feeding. She is completely nonverbal with no adaptive communication skills. She has severe meltdowns that include aggressive behaviour that often leads her to self harm.
We have tried time and time again through the hour long sessions of ABA that we received in 8 week blocks with years in between to work on a variety if these issues with zero success.
And the reason isnít that she is too disabled to learn it is that Avaís needs are specific to Ava. In the new OAP Ava would be entitled to less than $3000 dollars per year based on her age and my income. That doesnít take into consideration my families size, our location, or the amount of help Ava needs.
What Ava needs now is a very specific program that is intensive in nature that will target her exact needs. She requires a certified SPEECH AND LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST to help her with communication. An OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST to help with independence in daily living skills and a short yet intensive ABA program to target severe behaviour issues.
While we continue to try and get basic assistance for Ava we have seen the success of IBI with our younger daughter Esme.
Esme who is almost 8 years old has been receiving an IBI program administered at 20 hours a week for the last couple of years.
I can tell you in detail her unbelievable gains and amazing success story but Iíll summarize it.
When she started IBI she couldnít have a conversation with you, she couldnít follow simple directions and she definitely could not be in a regular classroom full time.
With all of her hard work in the last two years we have been able to create a new plan for September where Esme is at school four full days a week with one day still at IBI to maintain her work on social skills and communication so she is fully able to participate and thrive in her school career.
Our new program that we were so excited to put in place will be unattainable now with the new OAP. Even just the one day of IBI per week will not be covered.
We were lucky enough to be given the chance to see what evidence based therapy can do.
If we can continue the maintenance part of Esmeís program, I fully expect her to continue with minimal support and reach her full potential in school and life to then become a productive and contributing member of society.
Unfortunately for Ava she was not given the same opportunity. Written off from the previous government at 7 and the current government still discriminating based on age and income The government doesnít understand that they will be paying for Ava regardless. But instead of investing in a her independence and dignity now. They will be paying at the expense of her quality of life. She will receive ODSP for the rest of her life unable to work or take care of her self and most likely end up in a group home on the tax payers dollars.
I am here to beg the Ford government to reconsider and invest in our children now because the cost is so much higher if we do not.
And just a side note to Lisa I already have an iPad and a service dog so try again.