Sufficient and Quality services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
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To The Bahamas Government:
According to the United States Centre for Disease Control (2017), one in 68 is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While there is no statistical data of the number of children diagnosed with ASD in The Bahamas, there is a growing increase of this population in The Bahamas. According to Dr. Michelle Major, a psychologist in The Bahamas who specializes in assessment and diagnosis of children with autism, she diagnoses at least three children with autism about once a week (Moss, 2017).
This is to bring your attention and call to action for the considerable increase in the number of Bahamian children being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the lack of proper services accessible to them and their families.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a set of neurodevelopmental conditions that typically become noticeable before three years of age and are associated with impaired verbal and non-verbal communication, social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior (American Psychiatric Association, 2017). According to several studies, having a child with ASD can affect family quality of life and lead to extraordinary economic costs for families (Brace, 2009; DeGrace, 2004; Fletcher, Markous & Bryden, 2012). The primary types of impact include spousal relationship (which can lead to separation or divorce), sibling relationships, finances, and access to resources and services to assist with the caring, social, emotional and academic development of a child with autism (Grindle & Remington, 2014; Harper, Harper, Roper & South, 2013; Koydemir & Tosun, 2009; Ludlow & Rohleder, 2011; Montes & Cianca, 2014).
It cost one family about $7,000 for intensive intervention (applied behavioral analysis) for three months of therapy in The Bahamas (S. Smith, personal communication, June 26, 2017). It was very difficult financially to continue to pay for that therapy. Therefore, they had to resort to other interventions. Overall, autism can affect family quality of life in relations to family interactions, emotional well-being, finances, and providing intervention and therapies for a child or children affected by autism (Fletcher, et al., 2012; Montes & Cianca, 2014). However, there are limited services and interventions in The Bahamas, and those that are available are extremely costly for the average Bahamian family.
On behalf of the hundreds of Bahamian families who have signed it, I present this petition to you requesting that you do what is fair and just in helping relieve the burdens that these families battle daily, as a result of the lack of affordable quality services and intervention for their innocent loved ones. We are certain that you will see the urgency in this request and will implement best possible measures to assist them swiftly.
Thanking you for an urgent and favourable response,
We the Families on the Spectrum
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