Montreal family takes legal action against Quebec over autism services

Click to play video: 'Charlotte Kuhn’s family still fighting for autism services'
Charlotte Kuhn’s family still fighting for autism services
WATCH ABOVE: Charlotte Kuhn, 6, who lives with autism, has just been told she can finally have access to subsidized speech therapy, but it means she’ll be kicked off the waiting list for occupational therapy. As Global's Anne Leclair reports, the family’s lawyer is now taking legal action against the Quebec government. – May 29, 2017

A Montreal malpractice lawyer is taking legal action against the Quebec government for denying basic services to a six-year-old girl with autism.

Charlotte Kuhn’s parents were recently told she can finally access subsidized speech therapy, after waiting for more than three years. But there’s a catch: It means she’ll be kicked off the waiting list for occupational therapy since the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal won’t offer more than one service at a time.

READ MORE: Quebec autism action plan on hold, family gears up for legal fight

“It’s totally unacceptable that she has not received those services earlier and it is more unacceptable that we inform the parents that she will be deprived of occupational therapy because she receive speech therapy,” said lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard.

Charlotte Kuhn first made headlines last fall, when her parents launched an online fundraiser to help pay for her much needed speech and occupational therapies. That money has since run out, and Charlotte is still unable to speak. But her parents’ fight continues.

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“We’re so beyond frustrated and we’re so tired,” Charlotte’s mother Lynn Buchanan said.

READ MORE: Montreal family feels forced to leave Quebec to access autism services

Charlotte was first put on waiting lists more than three years ago and her parents are still fighting for adequate therapy and services. They were relieved to hear that she could access subsidized speech therapy sessions at the CRDITED rehabilitation centre, until they were told that if she starts speech therapy, she won’t have access to occupational therapy.

“The amount of money that’s gone into denying Charlotte services is astronomical,” Charlotte’s father Sam Kuhn said. “It’s just cruel.”

Charlotte was officially diagnosed with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) three years ago and several health professionals have recommended simultaneous speech and occupational therapies.

“Every time it seems they’re going help they open the door a little then they slam it shut,” Charlotte’s mother Lynn Buchanan said.

READ MORE: Parents of autistic children in Quebec struggle for access to health services

Lawyer Jean-Pierre Ménard is now taking legal action against the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal for failing to offer basic services to Charlotte. And he’s working on a larger class action lawsuit on behalf people with intellectual disabilities including autism

“We are not reaching our goals, too many people are left out of the system don’t have access in proper time to service,” Ménard said.

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