Great news for the residents of Saskatchewan as they can now apply for individual funding for autism spectrum disorders, which is offered by the government.
Promised in April, a budget of approximately $2.8 million dollars was allocated for this project, and up to $4000 is available for individual families. Children under six years diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder will now benefit as treatment and therapy will be cheaper for their families.
According to Health Minister Jim Reiter, the project aims to offer more flexibility for families, and facilitate the chance of getting better for the children. While the project is an encouraging start, there are more things that can be done in order to further help. A vocal advocate for Autism Spectrum Disorder, Arden Fiala, president of Saskatchewan Families for the Effective Treatment of Autism, said that while the program marks a good start, $4000 can be considered to be merely a drop in a sea, when it comes to the expenses required for proper treatment.
Therapy offered by a specialized psychologist may cost up to $145 per hour, and several meetings are needed per week for any visible progress to be observed. A bigger issue is the fact that such services are not available in many parts of the country, forcing families to travel multiple times every week so that the child can receive proper treatment. Another matter of concern is how the authorities will monitor if the children receive the treatment they need and what standards should be met as a target.
The minister of rural and remote health Greg Ottenbreit, declared that the funding is just a first step in a larger plan, as the government plans to extend the budget and allocated sum per family every year. Other services, such as special schools are also considered in the coming years.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca