Grace Coulter

Age: 15
Provincial Riding: Simcoe North
My daughter was able to receive IBI therapy from the age of 3 - 6 years old. She had 20 hours of one on one therapy in our home each week. Her therapist taught her how to sit at a table and work on a task, how to communicate, go to the washroom, dress herself, how to go out in a public places such as grocery shopping (and be able to handle all of the sensory overload), reading and writing and every other skill that you and I may take for granted because it comes so naturally to us. It wasn't always easy. She had meltdowns of kicking, screaming, hitting and spitting all of the time. Today, thanks to her amazing therapists and one on one Intensive Behavioural Therapy, her incredible EAs and teachers throughout school, she went from being non-verbal, "in her own world", screaming child to the most talkative, singing, kind and caring young woman. She has exceeded any expectation we ever thought.
Thanks to all of the therapy she received and support from home she is now in grade 10 and is working toward getting her diploma! Something we didn't think would ever be possible. But that may change now that services are being cut. She has already lost some EA support this year because we are already so short staffed! When more children who were getting IBI are forced to stop before they are ready and are now coming back to school...what will this mean for her and the many other children who still need EA support? There isn't enough support for our children as it is. If my daughter doesn't have an EA to help her understand the lesson in class, how will she ever pass? How will she get her diploma? Are you seriously going to take this opportunity away from her?? How will this affect the other children in class? Many of our kids can be aggressive if they don't have their "person" to help them regulate their emotions. To stop an outburst before it begins. To be proactive instead of being reactive. I'm scared for all of those involved.
Not only am I a mom, but I am also an Educational Assistant. And I will agree that our system is flawed. Something needs to change, but this isn't it! Class sizes are already too large. More and more behaviours are seen in classrooms since I started over 20 years ago in this field. I am having to help students who can't sit still, play tag during a math lesson and who are constantly disruptive while the teacher is trying to teach (all without a diagnosis I might add), all while making sure my non-verbal, wheelchair bound student isn't choking, can see and hear clearly and be her communication partner. Having a to stop a student from hurting others while 28 other 3 and 4 year olds play around him is unsafe and unfair. How can children learn in fear?
There is no such thing as 1 on 1 support anymore. One EA typically has 5-6 students in each class that they are expected to support. Inclusion is not a good thing when it can't be supported. I am very fearful of what this education system is doing to our children. Our future generations who will one day rule the world. It will just be complete chaos if we continue this way. I am begging you, as a mother and a front line worker, PLEASE, PLEASE reconsider this decision. Making cut backs now just means more money spent later. What do you think will happen to all of those children who don't get IBI like my daughter did? They won't be able to live on their own with minimal support. They will need full support and that is going to cost the government and families an extreme amount of money. Invest in our children today so we all will have a brighter future.

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