Yael is an amazing, intelligent and quirky 5 ½ year old girl who loves music, playing with instruments, reading and playing with her toys! Yael was diagnosed on the severe end of the autism spectrum at 2 years of age and was completely non-verbal. After being on a wait list for 2 years, we were able to obtain IBI funding under the Autism Intervention Program (the forerunner to the OAP) and she began therapy at Under the Umbrella Tree (UTUT) in North York in October 2017. Yael has seen tremendous gains since she began her therapy. Before she started at UTUT, Yael had difficulty communicating, was not at all toilet-trained, played only on her own and would have a meltdown if someone tried to join her in play.
Now, after nearly 17 months of therapy, Yael has a huge vocabulary, reads at a grade 2 level, is mostly toilet-trained, enjoys playing with her big sister and even tolerates her little brother touching her toys – sometimes! We are so lucky to have been able to access UTUT, as the therapists there have played a huge role in Yael’s growth and development. With the regressive changes in the OAP brought on by the PC government, Yael’s therapy will end in June and she will be forced to enter the public school system in September, because we simply will not be able to afford the monthly therapy bills to keep her at UTUT.
Yael is currently doing very well, but she is successful in a classroom of 6 students and 2 teachers. We have no idea how she be able to transition so abruptly from this type of environment to a grade 1 classroom with upwards of 30 students and 1 teacher, with likely very little support. We are extremely worried that she will get lost in a class this size and regress, rather than being able to slowly transition into a regular classroom at a time when she and her therapists felt that she would be ready to make such a change.
Every child with autism deserves to have the chance that Yael has had to receive this life-changing therapy, and every family deserves to benefit from it the way our family has – and this just won’t be possible if the Ford government moves ahead with their drastic cuts to the OAP.