Children with autism still being denied sufficient therapy in Ontario

    
    During Autism Awareness Month, ARO reveals what all Ontarians should know
    about the disturbingly poor state of autism services in province
    

TORONTO, Oct. 13 /CNW/ - With October being Autism Awareness Month in Canada, Ontarians should be aware of the increasingly large gaps in services for children with autism in this province.

"Children with autism continue to be denied access to timely, sufficient and individualized publicly funded therapy. The refusal to meet our children's basic developmental needs means they regress in their skills and are robbed of their chance to live a normal, independent life," says Sharon Aschaiek, mother of Jaiden, 3, who has autism, and founder of Autism Resolution Ontario (ARO), a grassroots, non-partisan, parent-run advocacy group seeking to make publicly funded applied behaviour analysis (ABA) therapy, the most established and widely recommended scientifically proven autism intervention, more accessible to kids with autism in Ontario.

Among the core challenges parents face in trying to secure this vital therapeutic intervention for their children with autism are years-long waits, premature termination of therapy without evidence-based cause, and a lack of sufficient, individualized, authentic ABA at school.

Parents wanting to address their children's developmental needs face a price tag of approximately $50,000 per year for private ABA therapy-a cost that puts sufficient intervention out of reach for most families and prevents children from getting the help they need.

At its launch this past April, ARO issued the provincial government a one-year challenge to make significant progress towards achieving a well-designed, integrated, funded and managed set of services for children with autism in Ontario. Six months into its mission, ARO is disappointed to report that the provincial government continues to ignore the plight and the suffering of children with autism who are being insufficiently served by its autism intervention policies.

The facts about autism and ABA therapy inaccessibility in Ontario reveal a worsening health crisis that affects not only tens of thousands of families affected by autism, but all taxpayers in Ontario, and demands immediate attention from our elected officials (sources for facts can be found at www.autismresolutionontario.com):

    
    Autism facts
    ------------
    -   Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs social,
        behavioural and communication abilities.
    -   Fewer than 30 years ago, 1 in 10,000 children were diagnosed with
        autism; today, 1 in 91 is being diagnosed with autism, and some
        recent estimates are higher.
    -   Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the world,
        and today affects about 67 million people worldwide.
    -   Boys are four times more likely than girls to have autism: one in
        94 boys has some form of autism.
    -   67 children are diagnosed with autism every day. A new case is
        diagnosed almost every 20 minutes. More children will be diagnosed
        with autism this year than with diabetes, cancer and AIDS combined.

    ABA facts
    ---------
    -   ABA (applied behaviour analysis) is a behaviourist teaching style
        that uses rewards and consequences to teach individuals with autism
        social, communication, academic and life skills as well as socially
        appropriate behaviour. Positive reinforcement, systematic observation
        and accurate data collection are the cornerstones of effective ABA.
    -   IBI (intensive behavioural intervention) is the use of ABA methods in
        an intensive (approximately 30 to 40 hours/week) program of
        one-on-one instruction. IBI is also sometimes called "intensive ABA".
        EIBI (Early IBI) is used to describe IBI programs for pre-school aged
        children.
    -   In existence longer than any other behavioural or developmental
        intervention for autism, and with more than 30 years of formal
        research behind it, ABA is the most evidence-based scientifically
        proven therapeutic intervention for children with autism. It's
        considered by most autism researchers and clinicians nationally and
        internationally to be the most effective autism intervention.

    ABA in Ontario
    --------------
    -   Families of children with autism must wait two to four years, or
        longer, to access provincially funded IBI in Ontario.
    -   About 1,500 children with autism are currently waiting to receive
        provincially funded IBI - that's more than the 1,300 children
        currently receiving it. About 400 children are waiting just to
        qualify to get on the IBI waitlist.
    -   IBI has been proven to be highly effective for children with all
        degrees of autism, but in Ontario, it is only provided to children
        diagnosed as "moderate" to "severe".
    -   During their lengthy wait, many families try to pursue private IBI to
        maximize their children's early years. However, since it costs about
        $50,000 a year, most can't afford an intensive program for their
        children, and so their children's opportunities to achieve their
        maximum developmental potential are squandered.
    -   In Ontario, children regularly have their IBI treatment prematurely
        stopped without the insights of the child's therapeutic program
        director, or scientific data documenting the child's progress, being
        taken into consideration.
    -   Research shows that individuals with autism who don't receive IBI
        require lifelong specialized services that cost, per person, upwards
        of $4 million - millions of dollars more than it costs to provide
        them with sufficient IBI therapy.
    

ARO is leading an ongoing, province-wide, high-profile public awareness campaign to promote the benefits of ABA as the most proven and effective autism intervention, to alert the public about the provincial government's neglect of and discrimination against kids with autism, and to promote practical and cost-effective solutions to resolving the autism crisis in Ontario.

SOURCE AUTISM RESOLUTION ONTARIO

For further information: For further information: To learn more about ABA inaccessibility in Ontario and the Autism Resolution Ontario movement, contact: Sharon Aschaiek, (416) 352-8813, (905) 370-9871; Learn more at www.autismresolutionontario.com

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AUTISM RESOLUTION ONTARIO

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