Saturday, 15 February 2014

In Plain Sight: Autism in Canada

Many things happen during one's daily routine. People going to work, nature doing what nature does and society as we know it continuing on this ever revolving planet. What many of us miss however, are the small yet important things that occur during our daily routine, often right in front of our eyes, but with the amount of distraction one person witnesses on a daily basis, our obliviousness isn't difficult to explain.

One of these things I mention is actually an issue that I can guarantee affects you directly or indirectly through a friend or family member. This issue is Autism as a whole and the many different variations of it that exist. More importantly, the people affected by Autism and the fact that they are standing right in front of us, yet we seem to keep ignoring them. Mind you, we do not ignore them on purpose usually, no, it is more of a convenient ignorance that allows us to think our society will prosper, if not remain unaffected, however boy are we wrong.

I do not have personal experience with someone in my family or close circle of friends who have Autism, but I have been exposed to many public cases involving families in dire need. Many of these families have very young children and are suffering because they cannot afford individual treatment and the government cannot provide it fast enough.

Autism Spectrum Disorder can usually be diagnosed by age 2 in a child, however the wait list provided by our government currently requires 3-4 years before funding becomes available for treatment. This treatment I refer to is I.B.I or Intensive Behavioral Intervention, which often places an Autistic child in a one to one environment with a specialist who conducts social exercises. Search anything on I.B.I and you will more than likely find a study that states the earlier the intervention with the child, the higher the chance of successfully integrating the child into the social environment required to both learn and establish contact with others. What makes this so heartbreaking is that the reality behind today's chances for an Autistic child are gruesome.

For example: A child may be diagnosed as encompassing Autistic Spectrum Disorder, only to then be placed on a funding wait list, which will most likely kick in when the child turns 6 or 7. At that time the child will then have the ability to partake in I.B.I services or even have home services established. What happens next is where the problem becomes a nightmare, if it is determined that the child is either to sophisticated for the service or has a higher capability to socialize and learn, the service may be deemed unnecessary, leaving the child with no special support and returned back into the regular school system.

Any PARENT or HUMAN BEING would do anything for their child or dependents, but in this scenario there is either a waiting list with a chance or out of pocket treatment, which is back breaking. An average specialist working with an Autistic child could be earning/charging from $60-$120 per hour for services rendered. Now, I do not doubt at any moment that these specialists are not earning their wages, for the work they do is not only tedious, but of the utmost importance. You cannot have any average Joe take this responsibility without confidence in knowing that his/her capabilities and empathy are the best.  The Ontario government does provide the option of having funding put into the hands of the parents, however this funding usually equals $39.00/Hr, much less than the average session costs. Even families who consider themselves wealthy, become extremely burdened by the costs, which can average around $2000.00 BI-WEEKLY.

What I simply cannot believe is that our government oversees this process and has all of the information available to reevaluate conditions and or funding, yet nothing has changed. No special inquests to provide alternatives, no policy changes to find more money, basically no political will to look past the status quo.

Some might think: OK, so what? When in reality, Autistic children do not only affect the well being of their own family,but also the economy of Ontario and Canada as a whole.

You may think that spending time and money to teach a child to socialize and learn is a waste or could be better utilized elsewhere and I would respond to you with confidence that you are completely wrong!

Take a step back and look at the big picture...we have children who can benefit greatly from I.B.I services, who later can utilize the gift they have been given to not only implement change in their own lives, but in their workplaces and in their communities. Most children with Autism are brilliant, they simply do not encompass the ability to conduct minor objectives, mainly because their brain is structured differently from our own. The best example I have been given is that an Autistic child looks at a mirror (The World) much differently than you and I. While the mirror is in one piece for us, the Autistic child views a thousand minor pieces, which they then have to piece together in order to see a larger picture. Such detail orientation allows them to better understand problems and thus see things differently, but at the same time...imagine the social stigma of having to do this with every single aspect of your social life. It is hard enough making friends and seeking out relationships under the best of circumstances!!!!With the proper intervention however, these children are given social training, allowing them to not only cope with their differences, but overcome them.

We should never fear anything within our society that is different or challenges our system, because more often than not, the very difference that scares us, is the key to improving us!

If we allow these children to fall through the gaps, we only guarantee that eventually their care will be covered by the tax payer through hospitalization or unfortunately through the penal system, both of which are unnecessary and signs of social failure. We do not need more Jails in Canada or more hospitals necessarily, what we do need is a review of our system that allows us to reallocate funding where it is needed. By providing more funding to an amazingly effective procedure that has proven results, we could be avoiding a very harsh future for these children that will not doubt cost us the taxpayer a lot of money in the long run.

What I need for you, the reader, is to spread this post to your friends and family. We have an election coming up in Ontario almost certainly within months and next year we have a federal election against Harper.

It is time that "we the people" finally took a stand and assumed our role. Autism intervention services are not only a salvation for those most vulnerable among us, but an investment into our future social system and economy.

You may be like me and not have someone immediatly close to you that suffers from Autism, but I do know that this issue affects you and I both and most likely is staring us right in the face...in plain site. When we choose to ignore the circumstances, we put ourselves in the same position as those who choose to do nothing and people are suffering for this as a result.

Until Next Time Folks! Share this blog post!!!!

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