Nova Scotians whose children have Autism Spectrum Disorder will soon have access to more support, thanks to a $3.6 million provincial investment into Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention Treatment or EIBI.
“Our goal is to be the first province that every child will have EIBI before they go to school,” Health Minister Leo Glavine said Thursday.
The EIBI program provides weekly therapy for children using psychologists, speech language pathologists, autism support workers and clinical interventionists.
“We work with the children in their home and preschool setting. So as you can imagine, we are working very closely with the little ones and their families,” said Megan Lynds, who works to facilitate the program.
Carly Sutherland’s son, Callum, was involved in the EIBI program a few years ago after being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at three years old.
“In Callum’s case, he had very, very little speech and the speech that he did have was unintelligable,” said Sutherland.
“They were able to help us, teach him to have some intentful speech. So, his speech is still developing, I would not say he’s a highly verbal child, but he’s able to communicate, which is something he was not able to do before he entered the program.”
EIBI was first introduced in Nova Scotia in 2005. At that point, there were only 50 spots available and eligible children were chosen through a lottery.
With the additional funding, 180 children will now have access to the treatment. It’s estimated that one in 68 children has Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) has a huge spectrum of behaviours and every child is unique with their own specific issues. EIBI staff have the expertise to develop specific plans for each child they help,” said Carol French, who has two sons with ASD.
The province says the funding will help ensure that all children with ASD will be more successful when they start school.
Sutherland hopes the funding is just the start of the government’s investing in people with ASD.
“EIBI is just one piece of the puzzle. It’s an important piece of the puzzle but it’s only one piece,” she said. “Children are not cured of Autism after EIBI, nor does Autism end after kids turn six years old, so I hope that this is the beginning of the government recognizing the need to fund Autism across the lifespan.”