Friday, June 12, 2009

Letter to Minister of Education

Maria Bunda
Hamilton, Ontario
www.tooautistic.com
May 18, 2009
 
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education, 
Mowat Block, 
900 Bay Street, 
Toronto, Ontario, M7A 1L2

Dear Minister  Kathleen Wynne

My name is Maria Bunda. My son Sebastian is six years old and about to enter the school system this year.
 
Sebastian was was diagnosed with autism a month before his second birthday. During the waiting period for therapy funding, I spent all resources I had, as well as private sponsors' aid, to provide IBI (Intensive Behavioural  Intervention) therapy for my son. Funding for his IBI started in February 2007, and the decision to terminate his funding was made in November 2008. Sebastian has been attending the Behavioral Institute Children's College, a private institution with an outstanding reputation, where he receives excellent, highly structured, intensive therapy that is the only scientifically proven method of helping autistic kids. In spite of his severe autism he has made significant progress during the time he attended. His self-injourous and aggressive behaviours have decreased. He is now toilet trained and has gained some essential self-help skills. He is now in the process of developing communication using signs and pictures.

My concern is that if Sebastian will be removed from this highly structured environment he will stop learning new skills, or what is worse, will loose skills already gained. After meeting with school officials at Saint Lawrence Catholic School in Hamilton, it has become clear to me that in spite of their best efforts, at the present time the school system is not able to provide an environment that my son will be able to learn in, since low functioning autistic children do not learn from their environment by observing and mimicking. 

The Behavioral Institute Children's College employs a team of professionals consisting of therapists, senior therapists, clinicians, and psychologists, all experienced in the specialized, scientifically proven method based on Applied Behavioral Analysis used in the treatment and education of autistic individuals. Thanks to their experience and efficiency, the Behavioral Institute Children's College is able to provide this service for twelve months of the year with one two-week brake in the summer and one two-week brake in the winter for about $70 000 dollars a year. The cost of this treatment is thus comparable to the $62 000 that the Ministry of Education will supply the Catholic School Board for the enrolment of my son in the standard school system. This latter circumstance will ensure that my son will be kept safe from injuring himself and others, but will not provide for him any real opportunity to learn for 10 months of the year. My son will have acess to an individual care provider during the hours he is at school, but, because this person will not be fully trained in the IBI therapy and techniques, this will amount to little more than paying out $62 000 a year for a specialized babysitter.

I understand that Ministry of Education is making an efforts to accommodate the growing numbers of autistic children entering the school system. I know that teaching assistants are receving IBI and ABA instruction. But these are mostly part-time courses and seminars, and are able to introduce the treatment principals, but do not provide a sufficient amount of practical, hands-on experience. ABA technique is often counterintuitive and requires a great deal of practice and skill to be implemented effectively. Also, ABA therapists need the support of highly trained professionals that can adapt strategies and curriculum to the highly specfic, individual needs of the students. Unfortunately, at the present time the Ontario School system cannot provide the level of support my son needs to learn, grow and thrive.

Removing Sebastian from the care he currently recieves at the Children's College will deprive him the chance to achieve his full potential. It is, in essence, denying him his right to a proper education.

My request to you is this:

Because it will take some time for the school system to develop the ability to provide a sufficient learning environment for kids withe severe autism like my son (and my son does not have time - he needs his education now, in his crucial, formative years) and since he is already comfortable and well established at the Behavioral Institute Children's College, could you order the transfer of funds that normally would be given to the School Board to the Behavioral Institute Children's College? This would be the most efficient way to use hard-earned tax payers' money, the best chance for my son to achieve his full potential, and the most efficient way to help my son avoid costly life-long institutionalization.

I Appreciate your attention in this urgent matter. 

More information about my son, documents, videos of his therapy, and our struggle to help him to achieve his full potential as well as this letter can be found at www.tooautistic.com

Sincerely, very concerned mother

1 comment:

  1. Ontario Education can spend millions on bussing, new school buildings, administrative centres, special interest groups that have massive voting power and $150,000 + administrative positions, but education has set children as a low priority. Look at all the duplicate schools sitting side by side throughout the province! The absolute worst example is that the Minister’s office is fully aware of many concerns about the plight of sex offenders being allowed into Ontario classrooms, special needs being ignored and a child being assaulted by an administrator throwing dog dirt. Why are these issues being ignored? Special interest groups! The Ministry of Education not only listens to the special interest groups but appoints their members on every board that govern educational organisations. Look at the Governing Council of the Ontario College of Teachers. Union endorsed representatives hold more then 20 seats, school boards are well represented with political appointments, and administrators galore. Do these people swear an oath to protect education for children or make schools a safe place for kids NO!….but for the most part they do swear an oath of absolute secrecy. Their so called hearings are open to the public but they are held behind locked doors….go figure? Virtually none of the evidence is ever reported to the public unless it is filtered thorough their administrators, their public relations department and their lawyers.
    In the last College election less then 3% of teachers voted in the College Election. Go figure.
    Maryna, one thing classroom teachers can assure you is that the millions of teachers in the classrooms of Canada, the teachers became teachers to make a difference for kids. They collectively put in millions of hours of extra time to help kids and they continue to do the best they can in spite of political decisions that they are forced to live with in their day to day operation of their schools. If teachers have been forced to be silent, parents like you have to speak for kids that can not speak for themselves! You are doing a great job doing just that….
    Our heart goes out to you and your family!
    Other Sources of Information
    Dog Do_Do
    http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20090407/Pantolone_charges_090407/20090407/?hub=
    Teacher Concerns of the College of Teachers Model
    http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/reportcard/archive/2009/05/17/richard-walker.aspx?CommentPosted=true#commentmessage
    Canadians for Accountability: http://www.canadians4accountability.org/news/main-e.html#jb
    CTV Report of Sex Offenders:
    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20061101/whistleblower_teachers_061115/20061115?hub=Canada
    One Catholic Position: http://tomorrowstrust.ca/?p=4615
    Victim Comments: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=2210332462&topic=2570
    Teacher Frustration: http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/article/600881

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