Parents express concern regarding upcoming review of autism pilot program

Saskatoon, SK – Parents are expressing concern regarding the upcoming provincial review of an autism early intervention program for children on the spectrum.

Editor Update (March 19) – Wednesday’s provincial budget renewed funding for the Applied Behavioural Analysis Little Tots Program to the tune of $500,000.

The Lil Tots program is a 3 year pilot project funded by the Saskatchewan government that provides ABA (applied behavioural analysis) for children in order to treat the severe communication and social skills deficits that characterize the disorder.

Administered by Autism Services of Saskatchewan though the work of behavioural therapists, the program offers intensive therapy 3 times per week for preschoolers in an effort to prepare them for kindergarten. Currently the program only offers services for 8 children, however parents of those attending consider it crucial in the effective treatment of autism. Ailish Irwin, the mother of a 4 year son with ASD states:

“Prior to the program, we didn’t know him at all. We didn’t know what he liked, what stories he liked…We didn’t know our child at all.”

Other stakeholders such as Jodi Brown, team leader of Lil Tots, point to the fact that other area programs only offer 1 to 2 hours per week of therapy which she believes is wholly inadequate and would therefore not help to improve the prognosis of children who have recently been diagnosed.

Parents plan to meet with Health Minister Dustin Duncan to discuss the issue later this week.

Source: CBC News Saskatoon: Families of kids with autism worry Lil Tots will lose funding