This is Carter, he is 6 and he is our whole world. Carter was diagnosed with autism just before he turned 2. He was completely non verbal. Right away we got him on every waiting list we could and began pay out of pocket for services such as aba, speech therapy and OT. Quickly we realized how life changing these therapies would be for our son and our family. He was learning, really learning. Things that came easy to typical children like matching, sorting and even just playing my son was finally learning these skills. This quickly brought in feelings of guilt for us. We could only afford (with stretching ourselves thin financially) max 9 hours a week and Carter clearly needed more. We continued with those hours for 2.5 years. We were seeing slow but steady gains. When the changes came from the Liberal government and we were taken off of the waitlist because he would be turning 5, we were crushed that we would never be able to get Carter more hours per week then he was getting and we were already feeling the financial weight with the low number of hours he was getting. In the months to follow we were offered the 8k/10 funding, at which time we increased his hours to 20 hours a week to max out his allotments. We reconciled our receipts the second we could to be able to continue with these hours. This is when we started to get some speech approximations, gains in toileting, we saw Carter learn to communicate effectively with PECS, learn to cope with his extreme anxiety and sensory processing issues. Things were falling into place. When we got a spot in the OAP a clinical assessment determined Carter needed 32+ hours a week. In our service plan we outlined all of our goals to get Carter prepped to go into main stream school. That little boy works so hard, every single day and he has come so far. Heís opened up socially SO much over the last year with full time therapy, heís able to cope with his anxiety, heís now considered preverbal , heís fully toilet trained, heís made friends, he looks me in the eyes, he allows us to hug him and hugs me back.
Come April 1st Carter will lose all funding, his current service plan ends April 1 and there has been no transition plan for these kids who are currently in service and being cut off as of April 1st. So in 19 days Carter will be going from 32.5 hours per week of intense behavioural intervention to maybe 9 hours per week for as long as we can afford it. He is not ready for the school system yet as he is an extreme flight risk and still working on his communication skills and ability to sit and attend to a task or activity. WE HAD A PLAN, a plan for him to attend school part time in September and slowly work him up to full time. That plan has been axed by the Ford government and the changes made to the autism program and now Carter has no plan, our family has no plan. The (max) $5000 we may receive from the childhood budget could take 18 months to come and wonít even cover a month of the therapy Carter needs. Carter is going to regress undoubtedly with the decreased hours. It crushes me and makes me feel inferior as a parent. We work our butts off, we give everything we have to our kids and it just canít be enough in this situation. Carter deserves better, he is capable of so much, given the opportunity to learn the way that works best for him, in IBI. Had you asked me 2 years ago if I thought Carter would be reading and spelling today my answer would be no. The answer today is yes. Had you asked me 2 years ago if I thought Carter would be ready to attend main stream school part time, in 6 months from now...my answer would be no. But today (with the help of full time 1-1 IBI) my answer is yes... IF he continues on this track with this intervention the answer would be YES. These changes canít come April 1st it will be detrimental to my childís future. I would give everything I have and anything I can get to ensure that Carter is able to continue one this track for 6 more months and GRADUALLY decrease his hours. There is movement on these waitlist if the government releases their freeze, Carter is a prime example. Age and income does not determine how these children are affected by this disorder. Do the right Ford government... go back to the table and reassess. Swallow your pride and realize that autism is a spectrum, funding and intervention should be as well.