Interim support for autism in Ontario now! #46000leftbehind

Interim support for autism in Ontario now! #46000leftbehind

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Kathryn Hodges started this petition to Doug Ford and

In light of the Premier's decision to keep schools closed until the fall, we are more than just a little concerned for our son and his right to receive support. You see, our four year old was recently diagnosed with autism. We did as we were instructed and applied for assistance through the Ontario Autism Program (OAP). We understand that these processes take time; however, we are alarmed at the lack of feedback we've received, and what little information we've been given is, for lack of a better term, useless. The following is a summary of the information we were given by the OAP representative:

• Because our son was diagnosed on April 22, 2021, and his application and diagnosis were not made/submitted before March 31, 2021, he has no access to services or funding at this time.

• Once his application is processed, he may be invited (but very likely not) to participate in the pilot project for needs-based services. There are 600 available spots in a pool of approximately 46,000 people awaiting support. The process for selection in the pilot program is not known. We aren't feeling very optimistic.

• Ultimately, it's likely that our son will wait a year or more to receive some type of service or assistance for the simple reason that the previous autism program was terminated long before the new program was ready to launch.

Suffice it to say, our son, like so many others, has fallen through the cracks of a system that has been very poorly managed. Had he had the good fortune of being diagnosed prior to March 31st, and had his application been submitted by this date, he would have been eligible for interim funding. But because his application was received in May, and his diagnosis was provided in April, he has to wait until the new needs-based program is up and running. You can see that this leaves children diagnosed after March 31, 2021 with absolutely no resources until a) they are invited to be in the pilot, or b) the pilot is expanded to the remainder of the province, all while individuals who were diagnosed a month before him receive interim funding.

Listen, we are not looking for a blank cheque. We are simply trying to get some sort of help for our son, who continues to regress without the structure and support of his school and in the total absence of OAP resources.

In hindsight, we wish we would have pushed harder. We began to notice our son's autistic traits when he turned two, which is when our journey to a diagnosis really began. Our pediatrician was extremely cautious when it came time to formalize his diagnosis. We didn't know the grave impact our patience in having him properly diagnosed and treated would have on our ability to provide for his exceptional needs. That being said, other children continue to receive funding in lieu of services, which are not being afforded to children who were diagnosed after March 31, 2021. This is quite clearly a breach of our son's rights as afforded to him in the Human Rights Code:

S.1 of the Human Rights Code in Ontario clearly states that, "Every person has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities, without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability."

The Government of Ontario is not providing equal treatment to its constituents diagnosed with autism; our son is one of those people. The fact of the matter is children diagnosed with Autism before March 31, 2021 who met the deadline of application of the same date are currently receiving support; children who were diagnosed after March 31, 2021, however, are in limbo. Parents of these children have no clear answer as to when they will be able to get help for their children.

And with school closed, our son no longer has access to his teacher, education assistant, personal aid, behaviourist, occupational therapist, or special educators. Online learning is not a practical mode of instruction for him; it exacerbates feelings of loss and frustration, and he cannot cope.

The Government of Ontario is failing our children, especially those diagnosed ASD in mainstream classrooms, diagnosed just a little too late to get help under the old model and too early under the new model. How can the government or the ministry even fathom treating children differently based on the date in which they were diagnosed? How can the government stop one interim program before the new program is launched? Where is the equity in that?

We have filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commision and have filed an application through the Human Rights Tribunal. We have also written to the Ontario Ombudsman. We are hopeful that they will address this gross oversight in the programming being provided by the Government of Ontario. We encourage other parents who feel forgotten to do sign our petition and to join our cause. We are hopeful that Mr. Ford and Mr. Smith will see that the new program isn't ready, and that autistic children are the ones suffering in the absence of any support.

Thank you. 

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