In her Sept. 12 column, Autism Families Treated as Less Than Equal, Elizabeth James correctly identifies most of the systemic and attitudinal problems we parents face trying to find and finance therapeutic and living supports for our children. We have to deal with Ministry of Education cuts in services and nonsensical changes in regulations as well as trying to juggle everything else James noted in her column.
As a society, we also need to be thinking, if it so difficult for middle class families with some income to get support for their child who has an ASD diagnosis, imagine the frustration and pain for those whose child doesn't have a diagnosis with funding attached and who sometimes can no longer work because of the need to care for their child.
Sadly, there is more support for children diagnosed with autism than there is for other special needs and/ or neurological disorders. When we finally received the diagnosis of ASD for my son at the age of 12, suddenly there was some funding for supports and therapies he had needed before, but we could not access because of lack of a diagnosis the government would support.
The refusal to help fund what he needed wasn't based on any lack of professional knowledge of his needs, no, it was purely about not having a diagnosis to go with the symptoms and having a government that continually cut and/or change funding for our children and families if too many need it - rightfully. The government does this to the point that a student who "just has a learning disability" can no longer get extra support or an IEP (individualized education program) in school which shows how nonsensical and cruel government criteria is in deciding on funding cuts.
This inhumanity must stop; the Ministry of Education, of Health, of Children and Families, in fact, all and any ministries supposedly responsible for helping children and families reach their maximum potential as citizens must assume that responsibility in the ways Elizabeth James articulated so well.
Lenore S. Clemens, Vancouver