Parents, families, and individuals living with Autism were protesting on the steps of our provincial Legislature last week – and for good reason.
The BCNDP intend to put this incredible community further at risk by limiting choices, customized treatment and services-delivery support to them.
Do we really need a “hub” that pits families against each other based on need?
I’m hearing from folks at the Autism Support Network and various service partners that they are deeply concerned about this sudden policy shift from the NDP. This was an ill-timed and mishandled announcement aimed at a community that’s crying out for responsive, innovative solutions.
A decade has passed since the BC Liberals increased support-funding to $22,000/year for children 6 years-old and under. In those 10 years, the cost of care and supports in both funding streams (for children under/over 6 years of age) has doubled in most cases.
As the next leader of the BC Liberal Party, I see a smoother, more supportive way ahead for this community.
Back during my social enterprise days, my partners and I had the honour of spending time with folks at Community Living BC. I became familiar with so many loving, hopeful, and overburdened families within the neurodiverse Autism community, and the myriad challenges they face.
An Innovative Idea (that we’ve known about for 2 decades!)
Individuals – mostly children – with Autism are now in situational jeopardy and so are their families. By 2025, children and families will no longer be customizing and directing their own care.
Instead, people will be measured against a needs-based bar such that families will likely need to be in crisis to qualify for the support they needed… before they were in crisis!
Parent-caregivers on long term disability. Siblings suffering from mental health issues. Anxiety. Depression and self-harm. Entire families in serious distress.
Medicare for Autism Now and Families for Early Autism Treatment (a precursor to the Autism Support Network of BC), tabled a policy proposal paper almost 20 years ago, which they advocated could be the key to vastly improving the situation.
The acronym for this ground-breaking proposal is CIAT – Choice in Autism Treatment, a tailored treatment solution that needs to sit in the Ministry of Health, as opposed to Children and Family Development supports and services. The current, more general Choice in Supports for Independent Living (CSIL) program applies to people living with severe physical disability, yet surely between the CIAT and CSIL models, a tailored, self-directed and directly-funded treatment solution for the Autism community can and must be found.
It’s time to act, and give parents and families the stability, choice, and customization they require now more than ever. Neurodiverse diagnoses and challenges across the Autism community require a diversity of choice and customization. It’s that simple.
I will bring redefined thinking and planning to this advocacy. I will demand an innovative, responsive approach to our management of services-supports throughout the Autism community.
My sincere thanks to Nancy Walton, Louise Witt, and others who have materially advanced this dialogue with me.