Yesterday’s announcement of an ABA-based website and distance-ed parent support system for newly-diagnosed children indicated we have a long way to go in terms of parent choices for autism therapies in Manitoba. To put it in context, this grant could have doubled the number of children that Autism Outreach serves – and yet the preschool ABA enrolment is almost the same as Autism Outreach’s. I know the Relate program at the Rehabilitation Centre for Children was hoping for additional funds to help them expand as well.
Although this new program partially addresses the wait list problem, It isn’t just a matter of helping greater numbers of children – these programs each have a unique perspective on meeting the needs of children. I believe that parents need help that works with the way their children can learn and grow, and to offer a single approach, with a limited window of opportunity, isn’t enough.
So what’s next? Yesterday I asked the question in a nationwide DIR advocacy group I follow online. Here are some suggestions that were shared:
- Focus efforts on the private sector: what business or corporation might be willing to support a developmental approach?
- Bring many parents with non-ABA interests on board: include multiple developmental approaches
- Spread the load; have many people take on small amounts and rotate. The government is testing to see if we will give up and go away.
- Find out if there is legislation to back their policies
- Keep the focus on “parent choice” and don’t be distracted by red herring arguments (research-based) when these are simply distraction tactics
- Pool funds and hire counsel to look at the government policies. Use the info to support parents looking for services.
- A lawsuit: if someone lost DIR services as a result of funding changes, there might be a case
- Keep finding every venue possible to keep developmental approaches in the conversation. Eventually people of influence will either hear the message or experience it firsthand
- Use this setback as an opportunity to get our voice out.
Is having developmental options for children with autism important to you? If so, let me know. This effort is only meaningful if it represents the opinions of more than a handful of people.
How can you help?
We need a continued voice for developmental therapies in Manitoba. I am willing to continue managing the website and social media. But one or two people can’t do parent support, communication, and advocacy alone. Perhaps some readers of this email are willing and ready to join us with the task at hand? Email me back if you are, and we can set up a meeting.
And please feel free to pass on this message to anyone who you think may be interested in supporting us.