Growing Wait list for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder staggering: NDP

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath was joined by NDP MPP Monique Taylor and Autism Ontario to address the impact of growing wait lists on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families at Queen’s Park today.  

“Before I became Leader of the Ontario NDP I was the NDP critic for Children and Youth Services. When I started that role, in 2007, there were 1,000 Children with autism spectrum disorders waiting for support programs. Today, there are 16,000” said Horwath. “That’s thousands of families who worry that with each passing day that their kids are missing critical help. For these families, these programs represent hope, and far too many families are waiting far too long for the support they need—we have to do better.”

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 is approximately 16,158 according to a Freedom of Information request filed by Ontario NDP MPP Monique Taylor in October of this year.   

“It is unconscionable that there are 16,000 Ontario children waiting for access to the therapy and services they desperately need. The evidence is clear that early intervention is essential and, for far too many children, that is just not happening. Those children and their families are suffering each and every day,” said Monique Taylor.

Estimates from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services for 2015 – 2016 indicate that only five more children are receiving IBI this year compared to last year and, shockingly, the number of children receiving ABA has dropped by almost 1,000 in the past two years – despite the fact that the waitlist is growing.

Katharine Buchan of Autism Ontario said that early detection and intervention is crucial for children with ASD to reach their fullest potential. Increasing the capacity of ABA/IBI programs is critical so that children and families with ASD are not waiting for essential services. 

 “We know early detection and early intervention is so important for children with ASD to learn to their fullest potential.  ABA programs are designed to be delivered at the age where social relationships are critical and these programs set the stage for growth and development throughout their lives. We need to build capacity into our funding so families are not waiting for these essential services,” Buchan said.