Last week on Tuesday, the National Post published a shocking article about the reality of trying to find government funding for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
To repeat some frighteningly truthful statistics: there are over 16,000 people on the waitlist for funding for autism services in Ontario. For Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA; the application of how people learn to react and behave in response to a stimulus to improve one’s social behaviours in those with ASD), the year 2014 saw 8,572 children receive treatment, while 13,966 children sat on the waitlist (Csanady 2015).
In Ontario, one child in a group of 68 children fall into the spectrum of ASD. To make this worse, the waitlist for ABA treatment has grown 401% since 2011. The estimated wait to receive funding in Ontario is generally about four years.
These four years is wasted time if your family member suffering from ASD is not receiving treatment while on the waitlist. In treating ASD, early intervention is crucial. This cannot be emphasized enough. Children who begin treatment before the age of four do better than children who begin treatment after the age of four. At the same number of hours spent in clinic, the outcome for a child who began treatment earlier will be much better than the outcome for a child who began treatment later into childhood. In general, for the best results, your child or family member should be seen immediately. It is harmful to wait another year or another season or another week to begin intervention.
The National Post article briefly discusses two families: the Dimanbro family and the Onofino family. Both families have a seven year-old son. Linda and Antonia Dimanbro have spent over $40 000 on Anthony so far in his treatment, while Kara Onofino and her husband have spent over $60 000 on Justin. While these are incredible expenses, both families admitted that “time was ticking” (Csanady 2015) if they wanted to see change in their sons, and that they had to act sooner rather than later.
While some families know that immediate intervention will harvest more and better results, other families choose to wait for government funding to arrive. These families believe that there will be saved money if they wait for funding to undergo treatment. This is the wrong course of action. Generally, if a child begins treatment later into their childhood, the number of required clinic sessions increases compared to a child who began treatment at an early age. So, for a family hoping to save money long term, the earlier you get your child or family member seen, the more likely you are to save money, as there will be fewer sessions total required to bring them to a desired level than if the child is seen at a later age and are past the optimal age for treatment.
Other families in Ontario with a child or family member with ASD have actually left the province in search of better government funding. This can be found in British Colombia, Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador where there is an “individualized funding” plan for families seeking autism services. While this option exists in Ontario under the name “Direct Funding Option,” it has not been prioritized like it has in other provinces; it is only available to people with an ASD diagnosis of moderate to severe.
However, once diagnosed with moderate to severe Autism, individuals looking for DFO funding only have to sit on a waitlist for approximately three to four months. If you are eligible for this funding plan and choose to sign up, we would encourage you to look for a clinic that has a DFO approved professional overseeing the private clinic and begin treatment ASAP while on the waitlist for funding.
There are many clinics in Toronto that offer private services with highly qualified and DFO approved professionals who can oversee the programs offered. Simone Friedman Speech-Language Services offers IBI services using the Direct Funding Option plan. Many of our clients receive private services and once they are DFO approved, they continue the same treatment at our clinic with our DFO approved Psychologist to oversee the program.
If your family strictly cannot support the treatment costs of autism services, then we would be happy to book just one, two or a handful of appointments where we can work briefly with your child or family member with ASD and offer some strategies for you to administer home-treatment.
Written by, Laura keeble of Simone Friedman Speech-Language Services.
Csanady, A. (2015, November 3). Over 16,000 children on Ontario wait lists for autism services: More kids are waiting than are getting support. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/over-16000-children-on-ontario-wait-lists-for-autism-services-some-families-are-waiting-years-for-help
Programs and services for children with autism. (2015, January 21). Retrieved November 10, 2015, from http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/topics/specialneeds/autism/programs.aspx