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Bring back early intervention for autism

The Daily Courier (Kelowna)



Bring back earlyintervention for autism

The Daily Courier(Kelowna) 

Wed Oct 20 2010 

Page: A11 

Section: Opinion 

Byline: ReidJohnson 

Source: The DailyCourier 

Re: More being spenton autism, not less.

In her letter to theeditor of Sept. 27, Children and Family Development Minister Mary Polak arguesthat she improved services for autistic children by eliminating aproven, highly-successful early-intensive treatment program at the QueenAlexandra Centre for Child Health.

Cumulatively, she has cutmore than $3 million province-wide from autism services for children under six.

In her announcement lastSeptember - and in her recent letter - Polak is still trying to disguise thiscut as an improvement in service.

She claims that"redirecting" the $5 million she cut from the intensive therapyprogram allows the government to increase funding for 900 autistic childrenunder six.

However, increasingfunding for 900 children from $20,000 to $22,000 only accounts for $1.8million.

Where is the other $3.2million going? It is certainly not being spent on the autism outreach program Polak haspromised, but not delivered.

More sadly, thatextra $2,000 per child barely covers the new HST charged on service costs thatfamilies must now pay.

Parents and autism specialists know thatintensive intervention is the most effective and enriching treatment option,and saves the system money in the long run.

Last year, the LondonSchool of Economics found the lifetime costs for a person with autism can be more than $2million. The same report said intensive behavioural intervention is the leadingtreatment for children diagnosed with autism.

Children treated withbehavioural therapy are less likely to need an education assistant in school,and more likely to grow into a productive, independent adult.

Funding early autism intervention programssaves money. I join parents of autistic children in calling for Polak toreverse her short-sighted decision, and reallocate funding for earlyintervention.

ReidJohnson,

president,

Health Sciences Association of B.C.

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