Regina mother creates comics to raise awareness about autism
According to Autism Canada, one in 68 children are diagnosed with autism, but some parents say funds needed in Saskatchewan to provide vital supports are just not there.
Brittany McDonald’s 3-year-old daughter, Ru, was diagnosed with autism about a year ago.
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“She’s as of yet non-verbal, but I would say she’s preverbal because she’s starting to make sounds,” McDonald explained. “Like to say I love you, she might say it just without the consonant sounds.”
Like any parent, McDonald wants Ru to go to school where she can thrive.
“We tried to gain access to the integrated preschool at the same school that my oldest daughter goes to and initially we were approved,” McDonald said.
But a few months later that changed due to provincial cuts. The Regina Public School Board closed the book on three preschool programs, including one designed to support children like Ru.
“It’s knowing that you’re being excluded and knowing that you can’t offer one of your children the same things that you can offer your other children, just based on diagnosis,” McDonald said.
It’s forced McDonald to pay for private school, an option not open to everyone and it’s inspired her to become an advocate for Ru.
Through a series of comics called Happy Hands, McDonald is teaching others what it’s like for people who have autism.
“I’m trying to bridge the gap to why is this person rocking, or why does this person need to be touching their mouth, or flapping their hands or jumping,” she said.
So far, the response has been positive and with support behind her, McDonald hopes it’s enough to bring back funding for children with special needs.
“I really do believe in the people I know in this province and I believe in our capacity for change and to do the right thing.”
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