‘Alarming’ jump in autism cases waiting: Horwath
QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario’s NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says the number of children waiting for autism treatment is growing at an alarming rate.
The Hamilton Centre MPP is calling for a real government strategy to support children with autism and other special needs.
“This is an area we know is suffering greatly from lack of government resources,” Horwath said. “It’s time that this government became a champion of children, not a champion of waiting lists.”
Horwath just obtained the most recent numbers for children waiting for Intensive Behavioral Intervention (IBI) treatment and those waiting to be assessed.
As of March 31, 2009, there were 1,513 children waiting for treatment, up 450 from the previous quarter ending in December, 2008, when the wait list numbered 1063. An additional 389 children were waiting for assessments in the first quarter of 2009 compared to 381 in the previous quarter. In the year-end quarter, 102 children had their IBI services terminated.
“This is a children’s rights issue,” Horwath said. “Every child in Ontario has the right to an education and should receive the supports required to meet their educational ability. Parents are paying exorbitant amounts out of their pockets to obtain services in the absence of a good government program.”
Along with investment, Horwath called for regular, timely public reporting of IBI wait list numbers, which are often released many months after the fact and only on request or through freedom of information (FOI).
The NDP Leader criticized Premier Dalton McGuinty for failing to meet his promise of IBI for all Ontario children with autism regardless of age. Through an FOI request, Horwath learned that a pilot program to bring IBI into schools still does not exist, in spite of the McGuinty government’s claim to the contrary.
Horwath believes some children are being cut off IBI even though they still need it.
“Both the Ombudsman and the Child Advocate have said there should be more services for children with special needs, but the McGuinty government is cutting services instead,” Horwath said.
So we had autism on the news again for a short while. That is a good thing.