Community Matters – Meet the Timmins – This is the real life story of a family devastated by the new Liberal autism program changes and the impact it will have on their son Aidan.
This is a letter to the editor written by Sean.
My wife and I are blessed with two boys, seven and five, and each is diagnosed with ASD, Autism Spectrum disorder. As such, they are opposite ends of the spectrum. Where our oldest is high functioning, in what would formerly be classed as “aspergers,” our youngest, Aidan is low-functioning. He is classed as “non-verbal” coupled with a global developmental disorder.
Aidan started school this past fall and although his program is structured to his skills (he functions as a two and a half year old) he is thriving in his peers’ environment. We have been on a waiting list for IBI therapy (Intensive Behavioural Intervention), a one-on-one, 20-hour a week program to assist him with learning the basic skills towards independence that compliments the training he will receive at home with us, his parents. This waiting list can be long, we’ve been waiting over a year, but it’s the light at the end of the tunnel for us, we know it will make a huge difference in his quality of life, especially after we are gone. Some weeks ago, the Ontario government promised over $333 million to speed up the waiting period, and today, in our mailbox, came the proposed plan. In a non-personal letter, we were told that children waiting for IBI above the age of five, are no longer eligible. No longer eligible. The light at the end of our tunnel is snuff out, just like that. Instead we are offered a one-time, $8,000 payout to enrol him in community programs that may help him.
Just to put this in perspective, private IBI therapy is upwards of $1,200 a week. Had Aidan have been able to “make the cut”, he would have two years of invaluable training. With this $8,000, he’ll get six weeks. Six weeks to help prepare a child with the mind of a two and a half year old for the rest of his life. My son is non-verbal. He’ll probably never talk, we’ll never hear his little voice, but in light of this recent change, you can be damn sure I’ll speak for him, along with the 3,500 other Ontario families who’s hopes were crushed today.
Sean Timmins, Brockville