Kathleen Wynne has the chance to do the right thing and support autistic children

On Tuesday, a rare event occurred at the Ontario legislature. Both the Progressive Conservative and NDP opposition parties put their differences aside and supported a motion demanding that the Liberal government restore access to Intensive Behaviour Intervention (IBI) therapy for 30,000 autistic children.

IBI is a 30-40 hour a week program that, for an autistic child, can be the difference between silence and dependence, and the ability to communicate, learn and achieve his or her full potential. Last month, the government announced plans to increase IBI funding for kids under five, while cutting off older children, many of whom had waited years for this therapy. The decision was based on a literature review, which found IBI was less effective for older children. Since then, not only has that review been slammed for excluding the input of IBI practitioners, but one of its authors, Dr. Ian Dawe, publicly repudiated the government’s decision.

IBI is costly, averaging $40,000 a year. Without public help, many parents could not afford it. For their families, including dozens who attended Tuesday’s debate at Queen’s Park, the changes are catastrophic. Parents found it difficult to contain their emotions as their stories were told by opposition MPPs: seven-year-old Wesley, who now talks and is toilet trained thanks to 13 months of IBI; eight -year-old Kenner, who received IBI from age five and can now communicate and attend school; and children like Mason, Trevor and Charlie, who will now not get IBI at all, because at age five, the Liberals deem them too “old” to benefit.

Read the full article in the National Post.

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