Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Autism Project: Parents can appeal province’s decisions about a child’s treatment

Parents of children who are discharged from provincial autism treatment or found ineligible to receive it can now appeal those decisions.

As of Friday, a new “independent review mechanism,” set up by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, gives parents upset over decisions concerning their children a chance to argue their case. The ministry oversees intensive behavioural intervention (IBI), the only sustained autism treatment funded by the province.

The review panel, which had been promised for years, comes after complaints from families about children being cut off from treatment prematurely and without adequate explanation. It will also review cases where parents have been told their children don’t qualify for IBI because their autism is considered too severe or mild to benefit.

The move will “enhance consistency, transparency and fairness in clinical decision-making,” said ministry spokesperson Gloria Bacci-Puhl.

Guidelines will be posted on the ministry website on Friday.

“It’s high time for there to be such a mechanism,” said Marg Spoelstra, executive director of the advocacy and research group Autism Ontario.

But she noted that to be successful, the process must be “exceedingly transparent,” consistent across all regions and take great pains to be independent.

The reviews will be conducted by independent psychologists selected by Contact Niagara, a non-profit transfer payment organization in the Hamilton-Niagara region that will act as co-ordinator.

The announcement coincides with news this week that the province has appointed a blue-ribbon committee of experts to streamline autism services for the growing number of people diagnosed with the neurodevelopmental disability. However, in emails and online forums, many parents expressed disappointment the committee doesn’t include a parent advocate.

The Star’s Autism Project highlighted the shortage of services for children and adults, and wait lists of up to four years for children needing IBI therapy.

IBI is an intensive form of the most commonly-used and tested autism treatment known as applied behavioural analysis (ABA), which uses repetition and positive reinforcement. When started early, it can dramatically affect the trajectory of a child’s life by teaching them to communicate and interact.

But lineups are long, and parents complain that children are being discharged too early because of pressure to open up spaces for the more than 1,700 on wait lists.

The new review process is available to children who have not transitioned out of IBI as of Friday.

Reviews are expected to be completed within 75 days of an initial decision. While the review is under way, children facing possible discharge will continue to receive treatment.

thestar.com – Living

None found.