PEI unveils autism care strategy

Parents concerned they were not consulted

CBC News – The P.E.I. government released a new strategy for the diagnosis and treatment of autism Tuesday, but the Autism Society says concrete results are a ways off.

The reports contains 37 recommendations, including:

* Development of a kindergarten support model.
* Increasing service capacity by hiring a preschool autism co-ordinator and three full-time preschool autism specialists.
* Hiring two new autism consultants to support students at the Eastern and Western School Boards.
* Creation of an autism resource centre and an autism research council
* Increasing wages for autism tutors from $10 to $11 an hour.
This last point was a major bone of contention for parents, as many have been topping up tutors’ wages out of their own pocket. Ronnie Nicholson has a four-year-old with autism, and he has struggled to find a steady tutor. Nicholson walked out of the government news conference in frustration, saying the wage increase is not enough to make a difference.
“We know what needs to be done,” said Nicholson, “but anyway, hopefully something will happen and soon.”
Education Minister Doug Currie said he understood the frustration, something that was also on display in November when parents of children with autism rallied at Province House.
“We saw today a typical example of the frustration,” said Currie, “but keeping in mind that the province has never had an action plan or a strategy, and today is a great first step.”
The Autism Society of P.E.I. agrees a bigger wage increase is required.

Click HERE to read more columns by Stephan Pate.

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