Wednesday, September 30, 2009

At Queen's Park - day 55

I was invited to come in to Queen's Park to come to question period, because Andrea Horvath, was asking a question to Minister Deb Mathews about Sebastian's case. It was quite an experience. I had an opportunity to listen to other questions and answers, and I was quite amused by the spectacle. So this is what they call politics! It is a chaotic process. I wonder how anything gets done in this province. But somehow things do get done, and some of them very well indeed.

One of the questions was about why Hamilton home owners were not assisted financially by government because of flood damage in the summer. The answer was more or less: we care and we have done so much for Hamilton in the past.

It is like asking the student "Why did you not do your math homework today?"!
The answer would be: You are accusing me of not doing my homework? You cannot say that I am not doing homework because I have done english homework , and science homework 2 days ago and last year I did a lot of homework everyday! I have spent hours making homework! And I care about homework very much! Next question.

Students would not get away with an answer like that in the school. Politicians do it every day.

Here is how the question about Sebastian was asked and answered:

Autism treatment - Wed., Sept. 30, 2009 
Ms. Andrea Horwath: My question is to the Minister of Children and Youth Services. My constituent Maryna Bunda is on day 55 of her protest here at Queen’s Park over the McGuinty government’s denial of autism therapy to her 6-year-old son Sebastian, who was diagnosed with severe autism when he was two years old. Sebastian was on a two-year waiting list, but eventually received some ABA therapy and he was making good progress. Now the government is terminating Sebastian’s therapy and forcing him into a school setting for which he is simply completely unprepared.
Will the minister commit to reviewing this callous decision and making sure, in the meanwhile, Sebastian gets the ABA that he needs?
Hon. Deborah Matthews: I’m sure you understand I cannot speak to the specific case, other than to say I have spoken with the mother who has been outside the Legislature.
What I can tell you, though, is that when it comes to autism and services for kids with autism, we are moving ahead with providing better supports for kids with autism in schools. The Minister of Education and I are working very closely together to really support families as they make what is clearly a difficult transition from IBI therapy into the school system. This is the direction that we’re committed to going and I will refer this supplementary to the Minister of Education, because she and I are very much working on this important initiative.
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary? 
Ms. Andrea Horwath: Across the province, families like Maryna’s are languishing and frustrated over the government’s autism crisis. The number of children with autism is growing in this province. The waiting period for autism therapy has doubled from two years to four years. When the therapy is denied, children like Sebastian are being denied an opportunity to reach their full potential. Both of these ministers know that very clearly. Will the minister order an independent review of Sebastian’s case to ensure that his ABA therapy in fact continues?
Hon. Deborah Matthews: To the Minister of Education. 
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: I think the member opposite knows that I’m not going to comment on a specific student’s needs, but what I do want to say is to re-enforce what the Minister of Children and Youth Services said. It is extremely important for our two ministries to be working together because the reality is that parents want their children to be in school in a social setting with the services that they need. So that’s why we’ve put $24 million into training, we’ve trained more than 13,000 educators in applied behaviour analysis because we know in the school setting we have to have adults who understand how to meet the needs of kids. This fall, there’s 16 boards out of the 72 that have got in place a program that is connections; what it is, it is a coordination of services so that students who are in need of service when they come into the school system have people in the school system who are working with folks in the community who have been delivering therapy to—
The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you.y.

I understand that general direction of implementing ABA in schools is a good one. High functioning children can greatly benefit from the advantages of a school environment having adequate supports in place. I would be thrilled if Sebastian was school ready. Children who are on the severe end of the spectrum need a much more structured and intense environment to learn and progress. Maybe one day in the future schools will have such structures in place. At present they do not. End the training the minister is so proud of. A weekend course on principles of applied behavioral analysis is not enough and it would do much more good if it was backed up by practical training and continual support and supervision of experienced senior therapists and a clinical psychologist at the school while working with children. But it is not. Not at the moment.

Tomorrow is Sebastian's first day at school. And Melanie his therapist from Children' s College is going to be there to assist him. Last week we did not know which school he was going to because his local school, St Lawrence, is going through renovations, and they did not have room for him there. We found out that Sebastian is going to St Bridget's last week. There was a meeting on Monday arranged by discharge paper signer dr Reitzel, with 7 people on various positions from the board and school, me, and Miranda from Children' s College. Dr Reitzel arranged to cut Sebastian off his therapy slowly. For six weeks he will go three days a week to Children's College, and to days to St Bridget's, and for another three weeks he will be two days at Children's College and three days at St Bridget's. Dr Reitzel noted that it is quite possible and would be even expected as "normal" reaction if Sebastian regressed because of the transition, because autistic children do not take transitions well. I think Dr Reitzel has covered herself quire well. If Sebastian regresses it will definitely be his autism's fault and not Dr. Reitzel's actions of removing him from therapy.

I have a sinking felling that nobody cares much.

The old big tree took more than a day to take down. They were still working on it today.

1 comment:

  1. According to Continuation & Clinical Guidelines re: Acquisition of Learning targets being used by Ontario's Regional Service Providers: "[sic] it is anticipated that each individual will acquire the targets of each successive level within 6 months. Although 100% acquisition is ideal, in order to continue active involvement in the IBI program, it is required that 75 -80% of the targets be achieved. It is expected that the children's/adolescents' ISPs will accommodate these targets, incorporating the prerequisite skills as necessary. If a child presents with challenging behaviours that significantly impact his or her learning, it is expected that there will be notable improvements in these target behaviours within the first few months of service delivery."


    The system is shameful but it can be changed. Keep your spirits up Maryna, your media storm could be just beginning now!!!! And keep up with the charcoal too perhaps!