Liberals creating “lost generation” of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: NDP

Monique Taylor, MPP for Hamilton Mountain, and the NDP’s Children and Youth Services critic, was joined today by members of the medical community, and families that have been devastated by the government’s recent announcement of changes to autism services in the province.

“Parents are devastated by the government’s decision to take away essential therapy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who are over the age of 5. The Liberal government is claiming to reduce the waitlist – but what they are really doing is kicking vulnerable kids off of the waiting list – that’s shameful,” said Taylor.  “Kids with ASD should not be forced to pay the price for this government’s failure.”   

Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) and Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) are the only recognized evidence-based practices known to treat ASD. The combined number of children waiting for ABA and IBI therapies was approximately 16,158, according to a Freedom of Information request filed by Ontario NDP MPP Monique Taylor in October of this year.  

 “When I raised the issue of kids languishing on waitlists back in November, I never imagined the government would respond by kicking those very same kids, and their families, off the waiting list,” said Taylor. “This government is creating a lost generation of kids with ASD who waited on lists for years for service, and now because of the year they were born, will never receive access to this life-changing therapy.”

Members of medical community, like Dr. James C. K. Porter, a clinical psychologist, have been sounding the alarm on this government’s announcement and its long-term, and lasting negative impacts.

“With the changes in access to IBI for children with Autism, the science tells us that this government has embarked on a future that spells increased rates of depression and anxiety in caregivers, a future of children with Autism manifesting higher rates of behavioural difficulties, and greater dependency on social supports as they are denied the treatment they need to advance in their independence.  This government is taking us down a road of institutionalization,” said Dr. Porter.  

“Children denied the necessary and appropriate therapy today, children denied IBI, will become adolescents with even greater needs and challenges, adolescents that will later become adults with increasing needs and challenges multiplied by the years of lack of proper therapy.”

Parents of children with ASD, like Heather Bourdon, have been begging the government to reverse its decision. 

"We realized quickly that Jacob needed the intensive learning environment of IBI. However, how could we afford it? At the age of 4 we enrolled Jacob into private IBI at a cost of $5000 a month. In order to pay, we sold one of our cars, we used all of our savings, sold some of our furniture, liquidated the equity in our home, and moved our family of five into a one bedroom apartment," Bourdon said. "Now we will never get access to publicly funded therapy for our son, and that breaks our heart." 

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Over 200 parents and autism advocates at Queen's Park today with NDP Children and Youth critic Monique Taylor to stand up against the Wynne government's cuts.