Harrison Wassell

Age: 3
Provincial Riding: Whitby
Harrison is one awesome little kid. His smile can brighten a room and he is SO expressive with his facial expressions. His favourite game is hide and seek, and he loves Halloween and ghosts.

When Harrison was about 6 months I noticed he was a little different than other kids his age. He would not sleep, and he did not like to be put down. Fortunately a friend of mine introduced me to baby wearing and it got us through. As Harrison continued to grow, I noticed the differences between Harrison and other kids became more and more apparent. He wasn’t talking, he didn’t play like other kids, and his fine and gross motor skills were not as developed as his peers. Fortunately for us, we have a family doctor who listened to our concerns about Harrison’s development and referred us to a developmental pediatrician at 18mos. Harrison received his ASD diagnosis right before his second birthday.

The autism diagnosis did not make me sad. I felt so validated and relieved that I had been right about my son and his differences. With the diagnosis I could now begin my research on how to best support my son so he would be able to reach his full potential.

We got on the infamous OAP waitlist right away and started to pay for speech privately. Harrison loves his speech therapy and Ive learned a lot too. His progress was slow with speech in the beginning but in the last month he is absolutely thriving.

When MPP Lisa MacLeod says families like mine (those on the waitlist) are languishing I want to scream at the top of my lungs “You haven’t met my son! He is not languishing!”. Harrison has some challenging behaviours yes. He can sometimes be aggressive, he loves banging his head against mom and dad (ouch!), transitions are difficult, and he remains fully dependent on self care and toileting. BUT prior to Feb 6th I was confident he would one day receive the support he needs in the intensity he requires to learn and master new skills.

Not only has the chance for impactful needs based behaviour therapy been taken away, but I also feel Harrison’s chance at being successful in school is at risk of being taken away too. Harrison is a kid who can learn and thrive when he’s given support. Imagine how much he could accomplish if he was supported at school?

My little brother has autism and requires a great deal of support. The autism community is one that I have been apart of from a very young age. Over the years I have met a lot of amazing kids across the spectrum. They ALL deserve whatever support it is they need. I talk to adults autistics, parents, grandparents, and kids. We all have a lot to say about our different needs but we all deserve to be heard.

This new OAP does not even come close to helping the spectrum or disability community as a whole. Ontario we can do better! My kid has SO much to offer this world, help him be able to show you.

How can you help?

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