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Despite some funding, a diagnosis of autism is a huge financial burden

VANCOUVER – The provincial government provides $22,000 a year for children with autism, up until the age of six. Beyond that, families can apply for only $6,000 of funding a year and it’s up to the families to coordinate their own treatment programs.

However, the biggest issue for many is the financial burden a diagnosis of autism can place on a family.

The Gold Standard in treatment for autism is called ‘ABA – Applied Behaviour Analysis’. ABA uses various techniques to enforce positive behaviours, reducing those behavious that are harmful or disruptive.

It is essentially a lot of repetition.

The key is early and intense therapy, up to 40 hours a week, but this is very costly. The $22,000 from the government usually does not pay for half of a full program.

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“I hardly know any parents that have both parents working,” said Jackie Vuilleumier, whose son has autism. “Unless it’s big-time shift work. Marriage breakdowns, that’s totally common, you just don’t spend time together and if you do there’s stress because you have to pay, you’re talking about paying for therapy. It’s all the time, it’s constant.”

ABA is the only scientifically proven treatment to work for autism, but it does not make a difference for everyone. Experts say about a third of children who undergo early and intense therapy go on to school without needing additional supports. Another third improve but still need some support and for the remaining third there is minimal change.

Some information on other treatments such as sessions with a speech language pathologist and autism support dogs.

WATCH: Exclusive – Autism social skills therapy session:

– With files from Elaine Yong

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