500 parents of Autistic children petition Quebec National Assembly

Quebec, Montreal, Canada, Quebec National Assembly. Around 500 parents who have children with autism took their petition to the Assembly last week.

Don Prashker who added his name to the petition works with autistic children and so therefore recognised the warning signs in his own daughter early on in her life.

CBC News reported that he knew his daughter Rylee 3 would need extra help fairly early on as she wasn’t communicating, answering when called or making eye contact.

He said:

“She was born autistic. Around 16 or 18 months, we noticed that there was development issues that weren’t going as planned and we called in some professional help and an occupational therapist,”

More than 1,300 people signed the petition urging the Quebec government to invest in an additional $12.2 million into the West Montreal Readaptation Centre (CROM).

The CBC article states that:

‘The petition asserts that long waiting times and late diagnosis in Quebec are denying children the care they need. They say this forces more than 40 per cent of parents to pay for treatments out of their own pockets.’

CROM is covered by Quebec’s public health insurance plan, Medicare, but at present 500 families are on hold with the majority of them being children.

CROM board chairman Gary Whittaker said:

“We’ve been underfunded at CROM and in the western part of Montreal for 20 years,”

He continued to add that funding has not risen in accordance with the growing prevalence of intellectual disabilities and the growing demand on CROM to provide services.

CROM serves 25% of the autistic population.

Executive director Dr. Katherine Moxness said the centre’s early intervention program serves 100 children, 25 per cent of the province’s autistic population.

Dr. Katherine Moxness said:

“Basically an early intervention program costs us as an establishment around 30,000 per child per year and it’s 20 hours of direct intervention with a child,”

Junior Health Minister Véronique Hivon recognizes there is a problem and has called the situation concerning and unacceptable.

“I’m working on many many aspects right now, one of which is the organization of the services so that they’re more efficient. I’m looking at the ways we are intervening,”

Don Prashker and his wife have been paying for their daughter’s care themselves.

“We’re doing therapy three times a week to what we’re able to afford. We’re doing it all privately. About $100 an hour to $120 an hour — we’re doing about six hours a week now. We’re supposed to be doing about 10 or 12 hours a week now, but for financial reasons, I’m doing what we can afford,”

He is frustrated by the delays in the treatment of autism in Quebec as time is the biggest impact in improving her future quality of life.

The couple are even considering moving to Ontario to speed up their daughter’s access to care.

“With autism you have a very small window of opportunity and it’s usually between the ages of three to five, or three to six years old, to make amazing and drastic changes in that child’s life,”

The full article on the CBC News website can be read here