Don’t play pol­i­tics

Provin­cial Autism Ac­tion Plan must keep chan­nels open, sup­port group CEO says

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME - ROS­ALYN ROY THE GULF NEWS

PORT AUX BASQUES, N.L. — A provin­cial ac­tion plan re­leased April 17 to help in­di­vid­u­als liv­ing on the autism spec­trum dis­or­der (ASD) has raised con­cerns for the local Autism In­volves Me (AIM) group, says co-founder Joan Chais­son.

“We are re­ally happy to see that they plan to elim­i­nate the cri­te­ria of IQ70 from the cur­rent eli­gi­bil­ity re­quire­ments. This would mean eli­gi­bil­ity for sup­port ser­vices will be based on func­tion need only,” says Chais­son.

The IQ70 cri­te­ria was also one of the top fac­tors iden­ti­fied as need­ing change by the Autism So­ci­ety of New­found­land and Labrador (ASNL).

In its 2018 po­si­tion state­ment, ASNL called the prac­tice of us­ing an in­di­vid­ual’s IQ score to de­ter­mine re­quired sup­port ser­vices was ex­clu­sion­ary and dis­crim­i­na­tory. ASNL noted autism is a so­cial, sensory and com­mu­nica­tive dis­or­der but not

al­ways an in­tel­lec­tual one.

ASNL also iden­ti­fied em­ploy­ment eq­uity as an is­sue, which in­cludes proper skill de­vel­op­ment for in­di­vid­u­als on the spec­trum and proper ed­u­ca­tion for em­ploy­ers. Chais­son and AIM has al­ready been work­ing with the re­gional business com­mu­nity along the south­west coast to raise aware­ness and train staff.

“It is fan­tas­tic to see that they are plan­ning to ex­pand Ap­plied Behaviour Anal­y­sis (ABA) be­yond Grade 3 for chil­dren and youth up to age 21, and the sup­port­ing Abil­i­ties Pro­gram for adults will en­cour­age sup­port­ive em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties,” said Chais­son.

“I just hope that all parts of gov­ern­ment and or­ga­ni­za­tions like our­selves can work together. The con­fi­den­tial­ity clause be­comes a great road­block when try­ing to work with dif­fer­ent de­part­ments in gov­ern­ment.”

Con­ti­nu­ity of care from the pae­di­atric sys­tem into adult­hood is an­other press­ing con­cern for both groups. The ASNL re­port stated that 90 per cent of re­spon­dents rated con­sis­tency in ser­vices as of “very high” or “ex­treme” con­cern, not­ing autism is a lifelong diagnosis and that seam­less de­liv­ery is re­quired across an in­di­vid­ual’s lifes­pan.

Chais­son is of a sim­i­lar mind­set, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to housing.

“This is be­com­ing so im­por­tant right now. We would like to see apart­ment-style build­ings and not just group homes.

“This would not be just for adults with autism — it would be for anyone with in­tel­lec­tual or so­cial de­lays who need as­sis­tance. We now have such in­di­vid­u­als liv­ing in se­nior cit­i­zen homes with peo­ple who are older than them.

“Also, they are liv­ing with ag­ing par­ents and they are not so­cial­iz­ing with peo­ple their own age. The gov­ern­ment spends all of this money while the per­son is a youth and then they live in their room at home or in a se­nior cit­i­zen’s home af­ter­wards. This does not make sense to me at all. This is not the an­swer for these in­di­vid­u­als.”

What­ever the an­swers, it’s clear that both groups be­lieve there is still more work to be done to im­prove the cur­rent sys­tem over­all.

“Whomever forms the next gov­ern­ment, it is imperative that the ac­tions out­lined in the Autism Ac­tion Plan are fol­lowed through in a timely man­ner and not car­ried along for an­other four-year term,” ASNL CEO Scott Crocker wrote in an email to The Gulf News.

“Whomever forms the next gov­ern­ment, it is imperative that the ac­tions out­lined in the Autism Ac­tion Plan are fol­lowed through in a timely man­ner and not car­ried along for an­other four-year term.”

Scott Crocker, CEO

Autism So­ci­ety of New­found­land and Labrador

ROS­ALYN ROY/ THE GULF NEWS

Joan Chais­son is the co-founder of Autism In­volves Me.

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