This is Oliver. He just turned 6. He has had needs-based, high-quality ABA therapy for almost two years and he is finally just starting to learn to speak and communicate with a program called LAMP on an iPad. His therapy team has helped him begin to learn how to use the bathroom, how to respond to his name, and follow directions, and he is learning the skills he requires to eventually learn in a classroom environment. He is learning how to engage with others, and you can see how relieved he is beginning to feel when he communicates his wants and needs and how relieved he is that others can respond and meet those needs. He is so proud and happy when others can see his potential.
But he is not finished learning just because he turned six. He will still run out into the road on impulse. He has run into a river unexpectedly because he does not know the rules of street safety. He does not yet understand the concept of personal safety, so it is incredibly stressful to take him out into the public because we are unsure that we can keep him safe. He loves to explore and go on outings, but it’s just not safe most of the time. He still cannot communicate how he feels or if there is something that is hurting him. He is only partially toilet trained. He still struggles with self-regulation. He still needs so much more therapy and support before he has the skills to reach his full potential. We know he is smart. We know he is capable. But, he needs tools that only high-quality, needs-based therapy can give him to learn and reach that potential.
His therapy is 30 hours per week. This costs $6600 per month. The changes to the autism program will now only allow him to have $5000 per year, which covers just THREE WEEKS of the therapy he so desperately needs. There is no way that we would be able to pay for our son’s therapy out of pocket. His therapy stops when his funding stops, and this is devastating to our family.
Oliver is not yet ready for full-time school. I fear that the school will not have enough resources to keep him safe. I fear that the school will be working to manage his behaviour rather than teaching him the things he needs to be learning. I fear that the school will not see his potential or that they will not have the resources to help him achieve it. I fear for Oliver’s future.