Durham autism community responds to PC’s needs-based program announcement

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Durham Autism community responds to program changes
One day after the province announced it's changing its autism program again, Durham's autism community and its main care provider are responding. Brittany Rosen has more – Jul 30, 2019

Durham autism advocates and service providers are reacting to Monday’s autism announcement saying the provincial government will be going back to the needs-based program.

It’s been a long six months for Tara stone and her son Aidan, 7, who lives with severe autism.

The child requires 20 hours of intensive therapy each week.

“We have seen the benefits of intensive autism therapy on my son in regards to life skills — skills that lead to him being independent,” Stone said.

That’s why Stone, along with many others in the community, put up a fight against the provincial government.

“We had dozens of protests throughout Durham,” she said.

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“At the MPP offices, we had autism vigils, we had meetings with MPPs, round tables, you name it.”

This came after the PCs announced in February that autism funding would be based on age rather than be based on an individuals needs.

Although Stone is in support of the PC’s decision to go back to a needs-based funding approach, she says there are still setbacks for children who have yet to receive treatment.

“There are tens of thousands of children on the waiting lists,” Stone said, “and that waiting list, as of yesterday, that end-line has been pulled even further away.”

Durham MPP Lindsey Park sent out a statement responding to the announcement, saying it “reflects what [she’s] been hearing from parents in Durham over the last many months — that we need to move towards an Ontario Autism Program that is needs-based to best support families in Durham.”
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WATCH: (Feb. 7, 2019) How the Ontario autism program overhaul may affect Durham families

Click to play video: 'How the Ontario autism program overhaul may affect Durham families'
How the Ontario autism program overhaul may affect Durham families

According to well-known Durham service provider Grandview Children’s Centre, yesterday’s news is a step in the right direction.

“We’re very pleased to have heard this news yesterday. This has been one of the contentious issues for families and providers with some of the changes that some children with very significant needs may have been under-served,” said CEO Lorraine Sunstrum-Mann.

The new autism program is expected to be implemented in 2020.

While the government works with an autism advisory panel to develop the new program, Grandview plans to roll out fee for service programs in September.

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