My daughter Gabby was diagnosed with moderate-to-severe autism at 27 months. She is also non-verbal and has global developmental delays. We are her voice!
As a family, we were proactive in referring her to a speech and language program. When screens identified red flags for autism, our hearts were broken but we pushed through and got her diagnosed, as we knew time was of the essence. We met with an early intervention team and signed up for any programs that were available to us. We listened to our therapists and implemented any strategies that we were provided and fought to find an ABA team to work in-home.
The Gabby that stands before us today is a completely different person than when we started. At the age of two, she was engaging in self-injurious behaviours and isolated herself from family and friends. Now at the age of four, she is looking at the world around her and learning new things each day. She has so much potential and with the proper amount of intervention, Gabby could truly soar!
As a mother, it breaks my heart to not be able to provide her with every learning opportunity that she deserves. We have been paying out of pocket for the last year and a half to provide a minimal amount of ABA therapy. THIS IS NOT ENOUGH! We have waited on the wait-list and I could handle waiting if I knew that when the time came that she would get access to the IBI services that she desperately needs.
I am one of the 23,000 families who have been waiting on the OAP list and I cannot support these changes to this program as NO ONE benefits in the end. These changes have been devastating for our family and our community. The pressure that will result due to these cuts on families will be unbearable. Caregiver burnout is very real and sadly will be the reality for many, including myself.
I urge you to pause this plan and go back to the table and discuss with families and experts a plan that will be financially and ethically responsible for ALL children and families.