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Doctor speaks out on Ontario’s new controversial autism program

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TORONTO – A doctor who led an expert report on autism that the Ontario government is using to justify a controversial treatment funding decision is speaking out, albeit cautiously.

Ian Dawe was the chair of an expert committee that made several recommendations to the government, including that early Intensive Behavioural Intervention be provided to kids between the ages of two and four.

READ MORE: Wynne leaves door open to changing implementation of Ontario Autism Program

The government has decided, as part of a new Ontario Autism Program, to defund IBI for kids five and over, instead transitioning them to “enhanced Applied Behavioural Analysis” treatment.

But parents whose children had waited for years on the IBI wait list, only to be removed after the new program was announced, are protesting the changes.

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READ MORE: Parents of children with autism demand Ontario not remove 5 year olds off wait list

They point to tweets by Dawe – who is no longer the chair of the committee – saying there is “no evidence” a woman’s six-year-old son with autism “might not benefit” from IBI as proof the expert advice contradicts the government’s decision.

But Dawe says in an email to The Canadian Press that he stands behind the report, and that the committee “had no mandate to advise government on funding decisions, the specifics of which were and are the government’s sole discretion.”

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