Hamilton politicians take Ontario government to task for changes to autism funding

News Jun 06, 2016 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton councillors after an emotional plea from parents with autistic children, and Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead who is the father of an autistic child, approved a motion urging the province to reinstate the funding changes to its autistic program that were announced in March.

“You want the best for your child,” said Whitehead, as he broke down a couple of times when he told his story about fighting to get the proper therapy for his son. “When the province steps in and takes away the funding, it takes away your hope.

“I was one of the lucky ones to get into the IBI program,” said Whitehead, whose son is now in grade 11.

Nancy Silva Khan, who spoke to members of the June 6 emergency and community services committee, said parents of autistic children “are in crisis.”

Her group requested Hamilton to “get the (Ontario) ministry to reconsider” its decision.

Other Ontario municipalities have jumped into the fight demanding the province reverse its autistic funding program changes, including Shelburne, Pickering and Mississauga.

The Hamilton parent group’s appearance to City Hall came at the same time that parent groups with autistic children demonstrated for the fifth time at Queen’s Park to demand the province reverse the changes it made.

Those changes to how autistic programs will be funded means about 3,000 children will be ignored, said Silva Khan, the mother of five-year-old twins who have autism. Standing by her were six other parents of autistic children.

In March, the Ontario government announced it was revamping the autism program capping the age for children to receive the Integrated Intensive Behavioural Intervention program at five and above. The move, says Ontario officials, will remove 3,500 older children from wait lists to receive therapy.

IBI is the only sustained treatment for autism paid for by the province. Whitehead, who managed to get his son into the program, said it “made a remarkable difference” for him.

The province will be providing a less intensive applied behavioural analysis (ABA) for all children diagnosed with autism through a new program that will be presented in 2018.

The province has offered a one-time payment of $8,000 for each child five years and older taken off the IBI wait list. Silva Khan says the funding isn’t enough since it will only pay for a “couple of months” of therapy for children.

The province will also introduce a three-year pilot program for four naturalistic, play-based interventions for infants and preschoolers.

Ward 7 councillor Donna Skelly said it was “shameful” how the Ontario government has “turned its back on these families.” She said families of autistic children have been telling their stories for years without the government listening.

“They are tragic,” she said.

Ward 4 councillor Sam Merulla said Hamilton supported, and provided funding for homecare services for seniors after the province slashed the program a few years ago. The province eventually relented and reinstated the program, he said.

“I’m prepared to go there,” said Merulla. “It’s a cluster screw up. I see the frustration in your eyes.”

Whitehead’s motion, which was supported unanimously by the committee, included identifying opportunities within city programs to “better serve autistic children and respite service” for parents; identify “support options” for school age children; and that Mayor Fred Eisenberger send a letter to the Ontario government requesting the funding for the autistic program be reinstated.

Politicians will vote on the recommendations at their June 8 council meeting.

General Manager of Emergency and Community Services Joe-Anne Priel, said staff will talk with parents of autistic children to gauge their needs. In addition, staff will gather as much information as possible to determine programs available and the cost. A report to the committee will be presented in September.

“We will start the wheels moving immediately,” she said.

Hamilton politicians take Ontario government to task for changes to autism funding

News Jun 06, 2016 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton councillors after an emotional plea from parents with autistic children, and Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead who is the father of an autistic child, approved a motion urging the province to reinstate the funding changes to its autistic program that were announced in March.

“You want the best for your child,” said Whitehead, as he broke down a couple of times when he told his story about fighting to get the proper therapy for his son. “When the province steps in and takes away the funding, it takes away your hope.

“I was one of the lucky ones to get into the IBI program,” said Whitehead, whose son is now in grade 11.

Nancy Silva Khan, who spoke to members of the June 6 emergency and community services committee, said parents of autistic children “are in crisis.”

Her group requested Hamilton to “get the (Ontario) ministry to reconsider” its decision.

Other Ontario municipalities have jumped into the fight demanding the province reverse its autistic funding program changes, including Shelburne, Pickering and Mississauga.

The Hamilton parent group’s appearance to City Hall came at the same time that parent groups with autistic children demonstrated for the fifth time at Queen’s Park to demand the province reverse the changes it made.

Those changes to how autistic programs will be funded means about 3,000 children will be ignored, said Silva Khan, the mother of five-year-old twins who have autism. Standing by her were six other parents of autistic children.

In March, the Ontario government announced it was revamping the autism program capping the age for children to receive the Integrated Intensive Behavioural Intervention program at five and above. The move, says Ontario officials, will remove 3,500 older children from wait lists to receive therapy.

IBI is the only sustained treatment for autism paid for by the province. Whitehead, who managed to get his son into the program, said it “made a remarkable difference” for him.

The province will be providing a less intensive applied behavioural analysis (ABA) for all children diagnosed with autism through a new program that will be presented in 2018.

The province has offered a one-time payment of $8,000 for each child five years and older taken off the IBI wait list. Silva Khan says the funding isn’t enough since it will only pay for a “couple of months” of therapy for children.

The province will also introduce a three-year pilot program for four naturalistic, play-based interventions for infants and preschoolers.

Ward 7 councillor Donna Skelly said it was “shameful” how the Ontario government has “turned its back on these families.” She said families of autistic children have been telling their stories for years without the government listening.

“They are tragic,” she said.

Ward 4 councillor Sam Merulla said Hamilton supported, and provided funding for homecare services for seniors after the province slashed the program a few years ago. The province eventually relented and reinstated the program, he said.

“I’m prepared to go there,” said Merulla. “It’s a cluster screw up. I see the frustration in your eyes.”

Whitehead’s motion, which was supported unanimously by the committee, included identifying opportunities within city programs to “better serve autistic children and respite service” for parents; identify “support options” for school age children; and that Mayor Fred Eisenberger send a letter to the Ontario government requesting the funding for the autistic program be reinstated.

Politicians will vote on the recommendations at their June 8 council meeting.

General Manager of Emergency and Community Services Joe-Anne Priel, said staff will talk with parents of autistic children to gauge their needs. In addition, staff will gather as much information as possible to determine programs available and the cost. A report to the committee will be presented in September.

“We will start the wheels moving immediately,” she said.

Hamilton politicians take Ontario government to task for changes to autism funding

News Jun 06, 2016 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

Hamilton councillors after an emotional plea from parents with autistic children, and Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead who is the father of an autistic child, approved a motion urging the province to reinstate the funding changes to its autistic program that were announced in March.

“You want the best for your child,” said Whitehead, as he broke down a couple of times when he told his story about fighting to get the proper therapy for his son. “When the province steps in and takes away the funding, it takes away your hope.

“I was one of the lucky ones to get into the IBI program,” said Whitehead, whose son is now in grade 11.

Nancy Silva Khan, who spoke to members of the June 6 emergency and community services committee, said parents of autistic children “are in crisis.”

Her group requested Hamilton to “get the (Ontario) ministry to reconsider” its decision.

Other Ontario municipalities have jumped into the fight demanding the province reverse its autistic funding program changes, including Shelburne, Pickering and Mississauga.

The Hamilton parent group’s appearance to City Hall came at the same time that parent groups with autistic children demonstrated for the fifth time at Queen’s Park to demand the province reverse the changes it made.

Those changes to how autistic programs will be funded means about 3,000 children will be ignored, said Silva Khan, the mother of five-year-old twins who have autism. Standing by her were six other parents of autistic children.

In March, the Ontario government announced it was revamping the autism program capping the age for children to receive the Integrated Intensive Behavioural Intervention program at five and above. The move, says Ontario officials, will remove 3,500 older children from wait lists to receive therapy.

IBI is the only sustained treatment for autism paid for by the province. Whitehead, who managed to get his son into the program, said it “made a remarkable difference” for him.

The province will be providing a less intensive applied behavioural analysis (ABA) for all children diagnosed with autism through a new program that will be presented in 2018.

The province has offered a one-time payment of $8,000 for each child five years and older taken off the IBI wait list. Silva Khan says the funding isn’t enough since it will only pay for a “couple of months” of therapy for children.

The province will also introduce a three-year pilot program for four naturalistic, play-based interventions for infants and preschoolers.

Ward 7 councillor Donna Skelly said it was “shameful” how the Ontario government has “turned its back on these families.” She said families of autistic children have been telling their stories for years without the government listening.

“They are tragic,” she said.

Ward 4 councillor Sam Merulla said Hamilton supported, and provided funding for homecare services for seniors after the province slashed the program a few years ago. The province eventually relented and reinstated the program, he said.

“I’m prepared to go there,” said Merulla. “It’s a cluster screw up. I see the frustration in your eyes.”

Whitehead’s motion, which was supported unanimously by the committee, included identifying opportunities within city programs to “better serve autistic children and respite service” for parents; identify “support options” for school age children; and that Mayor Fred Eisenberger send a letter to the Ontario government requesting the funding for the autistic program be reinstated.

Politicians will vote on the recommendations at their June 8 council meeting.

General Manager of Emergency and Community Services Joe-Anne Priel, said staff will talk with parents of autistic children to gauge their needs. In addition, staff will gather as much information as possible to determine programs available and the cost. A report to the committee will be presented in September.

“We will start the wheels moving immediately,” she said.