We’re the Bonin/MacDonald family from Greater Sudbury. We have two children; Elijah, 14 with Asperger’s and ADHD; Lilly-Anna 5, was diagnosed as a level 3 on the Autism Spectrum and global development delay. Our home is busy with children and tired parents.
Elijah is an energic, smart and social individual, who loves to play boards and talk about computer games to anyone who is willing to listen. He was diagnosed at 5 after being asked not to return to daycare and at two different private schools because they didn’t have the resources to handle his meltdowns. Elementary school was a challenge and a source of never-ending stress on us parents waiting for phone calls to come pick him up because he was being too disruptive for the class. We had to move to get him to a different school district which had the proper program setup for him. Over time the calls became fewer, that now in secondary school he is being integrated into regular classes.
Lilly-Anna is our little miracle born prematurely at 27 weeks. At around two year of age we (mostly her mother) started notice signs that she may be autistic; not as social as other infants, she didn’t interact or acknowledge anyone, no sense of dangers, hand flapping, hand leading and was largely non-verbal. Because she was a preemie were able to skip the waitlist here in Sudbury and shortly after turning 3 she was diagnosed during a fellow appointment at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Lilly was lucky enough to be selected for the Jasper program. She was very successful in the program and she now loves to play with other children. She can also read and speak in full sentences (my favourite remains “Daddy hold my hand”).
We have experienced what happens when you place an autistic child in a classroom without the proper resources. Elijah’s meltdowns were severe lasting ½ hour or longer. In class he could become overwhelmed, throwing chairs, flipping tables, ripping things off the wall. On a few occasions, he prevented teachers and students from exiting the classroom by standing in the doorway. Thankfully he never accidently injured a teacher or worse another child. Without the proper therapies and resources to accommodate him, schools did not know how deal with his meltdowns, some schools would place him in a room or closet with no windows for days and in one case a teacher suggested a “good beating” would resolves his meltdowns.
Neither of our children received intensive therapies, Lilly has been on a waitlist since diagnosis and Elijah aged out of IBI by time he was diagnosed. Thankfully, we also had some very good teachers who genuinely cared for our children, however teachers are not therapist. We the had support of speech therapists, occupational therapists, psychometrists and psychologist to help us develop strategies for our children. Under the new OAP, these resources might not be available and as single working family we cannot afford to pay for private treatments.
We urge you, the provincial government to make sure that every child get treatments that they need. Please do not place autistic children in the classroom without therapies and resources for the safety of all concerned.