Tackling the autism crisis in Alberta - 4 part series

CALGARY, Jan. 26, 2016 /CNW/ - An estimated 1 in 86 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) making it the most common childhood neurological condition in Canada. A leader in policy research related to autism, The School of Public Policy is pleased today to release four communiques on issues impacting individuals with autism, their families and caregivers.   The goal of The School is to provide relevant and applicable research on a problem that is growing and that will have major social and economic costs in Alberta, and worldwide. 

Laying the Foundation for Policy: Measuring Local Prevalence for Autism Spectrum Disorder by authors Katelyn Lowe, Carolyn Dudley, Daniel J. Dutton, Jennifer D. Zwicker, Carly McMorris, J.C. Herbert Emery, David B. Nicholas and Margaret Clarke
Knowing how big the autism problem is, is the first step in allocating resources to address it. This report recommends: 1. Using school records to monitor local numbers. 2. Using school records to track future needs beyond Grade 12. 3. Collecting information on the mental health needs of those with ASD.

The Value of Caregiver Time: Costs of Support and Care for Individuals Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder by authors Carolyn Dudley and J.C. Herbert Emery
The true costs of lifelong support for people living with ASD are often underestimated and fail to acknowledge the value of caregiver time. Significant gaps in publically provided support systems mean costs are borne by families. Some key recommendations include: Developing financial services that better serve the needs of families. 2. Implementing programs to incent growth of an ASD-knowledgeable work force. 3. Removing the IQ score for adults on eligibility for funding.

What do we know about improving employment outcomes for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder? By Carolyn Dudley, David B. Nicholas and Jennifer D. Zwicker
Adults living with ASD have the poorest employment outcomes of those with disabilities. These poor employment outcomes result in lower quality of life and steep economic costs. Some key recommendations include: Supporting research on ASD employment in the Canadian labour market. 2. Addressing individual characteristics that limit success. 3. Improving treatment and access for mental health.

Mind the Gap:  Transportation Challenges for Individuals Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder by Carolyn Dudley, David B. Nicholas and J.C. Herbert Emery
People living with ASD and others who live with neurodevelopmental disability (NDD) rely almost exclusively on public transit and caregivers for transportation. The current transportation options are insufficient in meeting the needs of this population, and are stifling their mobility, and options for personal success. Key recommendations include: Consulting with persons living with ASD and families on transportation challenges. 2. Ensuring adequate funding for safe, efficient and reliable service. 3. Supporting further research.

Alberta has long been a leader in support to individuals with autism and their families.  By tackling policy challenges, one at a time, Alberta can continue that record of success for a population that needs and deserves our help. 

The papers can be downloaded at http://www.policyschool.ucalgary.ca/?q=research

SOURCE The School of Public Policy - University of Calgary

For further information: Media Contact: Morten Paulsen, 403.220.2540, morten.paulsen2@ucalgary.ca


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