Shortsighted government underfunding means thousands of special-needs children awaiting therapy | National Union of Public and General Employees

Shortsighted government underfunding means thousands of special-needs children awaiting therapy

“Kids diagnosed with autism need immediate and intensive therapy. But it’s not just children with autism who are waiting for therapy,” Johnson said.

Vancouver (17 Jan. 2013) — British Columbians were dismayed to learn from a CBC Go Public report that families with autistic children have to wait as long as two and a half years for crucial speech language therapy.

“Therapy programs across B.C. are doing the best they can, but they are often under-resourced,” said Reid Johnson, President of the Health Sciences Association of B.C. (HSABC/NUPGE). “As therapists, we know that study after study has emphasized the importance of treating special-needs kids as early as possible: the younger the child, the more capacity they have to respond to effective treatment and therapy, and grow up to live a full, independent life.”

“Kids diagnosed with autism need immediate and intensive therapy. But it’s not just children with autism who are waiting for therapy,” he said. “Thousands of children have just as much need for treatment, and they are sitting on wait lists while their optimal window for treatment gets smaller and smaller.”

Johnson said advocates have been calling on the provincial government to stop cutting treatment funds and establish adequate resources for therapy and support.

“In 2009, the BC government cut $3 million from treatment funds for special needs kids, resulting in the elimination of one of the best early intensive behavioural intervention programs in the country – at Queen Alexandra Centre for Children on Vancouver Island.”

“Children who don’t receive timely therapy experience life-long suffering. Put in financial terms, the current best estimate for life-long supports for untreated kids with autism is $2 million per child. A child who has had the benefit of intensive therapy will need far fewer costly medical or mental health interventions and social assistance later in life,” he said.

More information:

“Provincial government eliminates autism intervention program”

“Child who doesn't speak waits 2½ years for therapy”

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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