While researching this week (more on this on another post - I can't really talk about it yet), I spoke to several parents and I heard the same old refrain: why can't my child transition from IBI to school more gradually? Their children are six and seven years old, and they currently receiving intensive ABA treatment, but they would like their kids to be in school part-time. In Ontario, this is not an option; children are either in full-time IBI (intensive ABA) or they are in school. The school system does not provide adequate ABA supports because the education system does not provide adequate training or resources in the system.
So, parents are left with two bad options. They can keep their child in IBI, getting the supports they need to have their child learn, even if they want their kids to socialize at school. Or, they can leave ABA behind completely and try the school system. This makes the waiting list worse because parents fight to keep IBI at a cost of $60,000 a year when less expensive supports would work just as well, if the government would allow a gradual transition to school and boards allowed behavioural therapists in the school system.
The parents to whom I spoke want their kids in school now. But they can't because it means no ABA support. So they are stuck, and meanwhile 1500 kids can't get service.
Here is what would be, in my opinion, the best solution:
1. Regulate behavioural therapists so that the education system will not be afraid of them. The school system allows other regulated professionals in the school, such as occupational therapists, but those therapists are regulated. This is long overdue in Ontario.
2. Transfer the Autism Intervention Program (AIP) and School Support Program (SSP) from the Ministry of Child and Youth Services to the Ministry of Education. One mandate, one minister, one system.
3. Allow a gradual transfer from intensive ABA to school. Almost all intervention programs advocate this. It is more natural, it is what parents want, and it will allow more children to receive service more quickly.
4. Allow the professionals in (1) into the school system to provide proper supports to teachers and para-educators like educational assistants (EA)s. Parents will even pay for this, saving the education system money in the long term.
Thankfully Alanna avoids this whole problem by entering IBI at 2.5 years old. She will probably be ready to transition by the time she is 5 or 6 years old. But we are in the minority. Most children receiving IBI are 6 or 7 because they had to wait 4 years for service.
Does the government ever ask the parents what they should do?