QUEBEC CITY – “The families are exhausted. They can’t wait any longer. They need help now,” Lily Plourde, Autism Quebec general manager reacted to a government announcement Friday at the first autism spectrum disorder forum in Quebec.
Plourde is concerned the government isn’t making any concrete promises about funding services for people with autism. Public health and healthy lifestyles minister, Lucie Charlebois pledged to listen throughout her two day conference in Quebec City and adopt an action plan at the end.
“I cannot tell you about the money right now because I’ve got to listen to all the things that the people are going to let us know by the end of the day,” Charlebois said.
There’s currently a two-year wait list for children to be diagnosed with autism. According to the opposition Parti Quebecois, there are three thousand children waiting for services and the majority of families with autistic children are financially strapped.
“We need funding. And the minister comes out and says, ‘Oh I’m so glad to tell you that in 11 months we’ll have a plan, and then in next year’s budget – that’s in 2017, there may be some money,” said PQ public health critic Jean-Francois Lisée.
The forum addressed gaps in services from infancy to adulthood. One of the big challenges is finding group home placements so people with autism can successfully live independently. In one example, a woman’s 19 year old son now lives in a home, but it’s not suited for people with autism specifically. For security reasons, he can’t even go outside without permission or serve himself a glass of water.
“It’s horrible. It’s difficult to see that we have to settle for not the best,” explained mother, Marie-Josée Lapointe.