Hi! My name is Lucas. I am 7 years old. I am a really happy kid and LOVE to give hugs and get high fives! I love to play with Grossery Gang but my favorite toys of all is Octonauts figures and books. I even have an Octopod that I carry around with me! I also love to play outside. I was diagnosed with ASD three weeks after my third birthday. My mom knew something was different with me before I turned two. Before I was diagnosed with ASD, I was initially diagnosed with PDD-NOS and Global Developmental delay.
My parents and some friends did some fundraising for my ABA therapy until I started receiving funding for ABA through the OAP. ABA therapy has helped me SO much! I can recover from meltdowns so much faster, although I still need help with toileting, I donít have to wear diapers anymore. I can tolerate much more visual and audio stimulation. I am learning to share (even with my big brother!) and I will seek him out to play with me now sometimes. I really love going to ABA therapy, Iím always excited to go there and have started to do some independent work. I have started to speak in 3- or 4-word phrases and sentences and can sometimes answer questions without Echolalia. Being able to communicate more has really helped to have better control of my behaviours. I have ABA therapy 24 hours per week. The cost is $45,000 per year, but as I learn more I will be going less and less to therapy, and it wonít cost as much. My goal is to be able to go to school full time!
My parents work very hard to make sure that they are doing things at home that are consistent with the programming by my ABA therapy team, so I donít get mixed signals. Consistency is very important to helping me learn and maintain what I have learned. My parents are very scared because of the changes that are being made to the Autism Program in Ontario. They say I wonít be able to go to therapy anymore because they canít afford to send me. They said that my therapy costs as much as what our family earns in a year. This makes me very sad. Iím scared for me and for all the other kids that I go to therapy with. With this new program, I will only be able to go to ABA therapy for 5 weeks each year. This is not enough. This is not good for me as I could easily regress, and this scares me and my parents.
Autism is a Neurological SPECTRUM disorder, we are all different, why is the government treating us like we are all the same and have the same needs? I know ABA therapy is costly, but the cost of me needing full time support throughout my lifetime is much higher if I donít get the ABA I need now. I want to be able to be independent when I am grown up, but with the changes to the OAP, this may never happen. I am a smart boy and I have SO much potential, I just need to learn things in a different way!
Please share my story to your MPP and the Premier of Ontario so hopefully they can understand why needs based funding for therapy is so important. My life depends on it. Literally.