Monday, January 11, 2010

Waiting to Wait

The local provider of autism intervention where I live is the Thames Valley Children's Centre.  I am happy to report that after eight weeks of "waiting to wait", I can report that Alanna qualifies for the autism intervention program.  Now that we're done waiting to be on the waiting list, we can officially be on the waiting list.  How long you ask?  I don't know.  They won't say.  In fact, the latest from Thames Valley is that there is no "waiting list".  The waiting list for service is a constant thorn in the side of the provincial government, so the latest "trick" is to pretend there isn't one.  After all, once accepted, am I not "receiving service" by attending seminars on what autism is and how it is treated?  I beg to differ.  While I appreciate the politics of this issue, a waiting list is a waiting list.  Either your child is receiving ABA treatment or they are not.  Many are not and if you are unlucky enough to come from a lower income family, you are on your own.  While it is a sacrifice for us to pay for Alanna's therapy at least we are capable.  If you are only making $35,000 a year, paying $30,000 a year for therapy isn't going to fly.  This idea of "no waiting list" is smoke and mirrors designed to confuse parents who do not know much about autism and particularly for those parents who "rely on the system" to take care of their children.  If autism intervention providers in Ontario can convince people that they really are receiving service, then there is no political problem for the current government.

To be fair, the "behaviour coach" is probably invaluable to many parents who have not started an ABA program themselves.  We will certainly take advantage of this service, but it is not the same as IBI, and that is where the gains are made.  Early intervention should be a priority, yet children waste years of potential gains because they are forced to wait.  It's sad.  They have such potential if we would only invest in them.

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