A big victory for parents of children with autism took place today. The Ontario Government has reversed course on a number of controversial changes they made early in 2016, which included an increase in funding for autism programs, but instituted a hard cutoff for eligibility once a child had reached age 5.
The Province announced that the implementation of the new Ontario Autism Program will begin in June 2017, a full year ahead of the initially planned date of June 2018. For parents who have had children removed from the Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) waitlist, Ontario will provide a choice of more direct funding or access to Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) services by publicly funded providers. This will provide access to continuous service until the implementation of the Ontario Autism Program begins in June 2017.
Representing the Ontario Autism Coalition, Laura McIntosh stated, “Its a positive change. It’s what we advocated for. I would have been pleased to hear the minister or anyone from the government take a little bit more responsibility for putting families through all the grief that they have been through, but at the end of the day we are pleased with this announcement.”
The situation may have reached a boiling point in May when it was reported that Mississauga MPP Bob Delaney called Police to thwart a planned protest against the proposed changes by Melanie Palaypayon, a mother of a 6-year old child with autism. The MPP has since apologized, but the incident galvanized parents and supporters of children with autism and may have led to the changes announced today.
Both Melanie and Laura spoke to Brampton Focus and their interview can be seen here: