After months of demanding that the Quebec government do more to help autistic children, the Quebec Autism Coalition has been granted a meeting with the minister responsible for social services in Quebec, Lucie Charlebois.
Coalition members Melissa Garceau and Kathleen Salvail often feel hopeless about getting their children help for autism.
“If nothing changes right now, my children don’t have a future,” Kathleen Salvail said.
On Friday, they shared their challenges with Charlebois, who promised to tackle their concerns.
Coming out of the meeting, Melissa Garceau was cautiously optimistic.
“We’re going to wait and see what’s next. Right now we can’t say if we’re happy or not.”
For months, Charlebois, the minister for Rehabilitation, Youth Protection and Public Health, has been promising to unveil a strategy that would help children with autism.
But some parents, like the parents of 5-year-old Charlotte Kuhn, couldn’t wait.
Charlotte’s father, Sam Kuhn, resorted to panhandling for money outside the subway to pay for her therapy.
“It’s insane on some many levels,” said Kuhn.
The Mackenzie family decided to move to Nova Scotia to get the therapy their son Drake needs.
“It’s not just the service system – it’s the school system, it’s the support system,” Drake Mackenzie’s mother, Nicole LeBlanc, said.
The social services minister isn’t releasing any details about her plan, but she promises it is complete.
“There’s ten objectives and we’re going to go since the beginning of the life of the children until they’re old-age people,” Charlebois said.
Charlebois says those ten objectives are based on an autism forum held in Quebec City last year.
Various groups and people with autism had the chance to tell lawmakers what needs to change.
Charlebois says the government’s autism strategy will be released in the coming days.
Kathleen Salvail is looking forward to hearing more about the government’s plan. “I can have hope now,” she said.