This is Kevin.
Kevin was diagnosed with high functioning autism in May 2018, shortly after he turned 4. There was a time when my beautiful little boy barely spoke, would get so angry if you even tried to engage him by calling his name or asking him a question. Noises, sounds, and smells would set him off into a total fight or flight meltdown. One short museum outing would take him two days to recover from because he was just so over stimulated. He would hit himself when he was having a hard time and couldnít express himself. There were days he would hide in the bathroom or the pantry screaming and crying for hours on end because the normal stimulation of the world was just too much, and nights I held my child and cried because I was afraid I would never really know what was going on inside his head. It was like there was this wall in his mind that he just couldnít get over and my little boy was trapped.
Heís come such a long way. But he has so much further to go.
Like many high functioning spectrum kids, Kevinís main needs are for Speech language therapy and Occuptional therapy- both things that will NOT be covered under the new OAP. These are the therapies that helped him learn how to communicate with us, how to play with friends, how to help put his own clothes and shoes on, how to recognize and cope when heís going into sensory overload. They have changed his life and because of the changes to the program he will not be able to receive these therapies. My child gets no help. He becomes a burden on the already overwhelmed school system. Left to educators who donít have the ABA/IBI therapy training necessary to help our autistic children.
The wait list may have been long, but we were happy to wait if it meant that the services Kevin would need would be there for him when the time came and when he really needed them. Autism doesnít end at 5 or 6 or EVER. It is a lifelong neurological difference. These children need continue support that can increase and decrease as they go through stages where their needs and struggles increase and decrease. What happens when these children approach puberty and their changing hormones increase their behavioural struggles and physical aggression? Children on the spectrum, ESPECIALLY high functioning children, have much higher rates of depression and suicide. How will our teachers keep all kids in the classroom safe?
Iím scared for my childís future. This isnít right. We are a province in crisis. With this new system we are all suffering.
Lisa MacLeod says sheís doing good by clearing the wait list. This isnít a good thing. This isnít clearing the list by helping all of these children. This is dumping these children with measly vouchers for therapies theyíll never be able to receive. No hope. No Equity. No future.