Thursday, 4 August 2011

Province Launches Autism Support Plan

Here's the news paper article from the Winnipeg Free Press:

Province launches autism support plan

The provincial government has launched a five-year plan to support Manitobans of all ages that are affected by autism spectrum disorders.

The plan, called "Thrive!", will begin with $1 million that will go mainly toward providing preschoolers with a treatment called applied behaviour analysis and toward outreach services in rural and northern Manitoba. A smaller amount of funding will hire experts for behaviroual consultation for children who complete the applied behaviour analysis and create a meeting program between parents of autistic children to share knowledge.

Currently there are long wait lists for the applied behaviour analysis program, which the new funding hopes to eliminate.

The $1 million is only the tip of the iceberg, funding four out of the 40 programs in which the Thrive! plan hopes to invest.

One of its main aims is to provide support to adults with autism, since the bulk of funding goes currently to children.

Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh, who made the announcement along with Education Minister Nancy Allan, could not say how much Thrive will cost in the long run.

Here's another excpert from a similar article from Winnipeg Press:

Province launches new five-year autism strategy

Applied behaviour analysis gets $600,000 in funding

The provincial government has launched a five-year plan to support Manitobans of all ages that are affected by autism spectrum disorders.

The new strategy, called Thrive, will eventually include 40 initiatives, everything from a technology centre to make the latest tools accessible to parents, to a post-secondary scholarship for high school graduates with autism.

Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh and Education Minister Nancy Allan announced funding for the first four initiatives Tuesday: about $1 million annually.

Just under $600,000 will go to applied behaviour analysis (ABA) for young children, a treatment that teaches them social, motor, and reasoning skills; $250,000 will go to outreach services in rural and northern Manitoba; $160,000 will finance consultations with experts for children who graduate from ABA treatment; and $8,000 will create a program where parents of children with autism can meet and share knowledge.

Difficulty accessing ABA is a big issue for parents at the moment because there is a long wait-list.
Letisha Recksiedler, whose five-year-old son has autism, waited six months to get him into ABA. During those six months, her son had several "temper tantrums" every day, she said. After he started ABA, the tantrums decreased to one per day, she said.

"Our lives have become less stressful now that we're in the program," Recksiedler said.
The province hopes the Thrive program will eliminate wait-lists for ABA by September.

But some of those who work with people with autism said this announcement neglects what they call the biggest hole in funding -- support services for adults with autism.

Bev Larmour, a past president of Asperger Manitoba Inc. (Asperger syndrome is on the autism spectrum), said the announcement focuses on kids.

"What about the adults who, when they graduate from high school, it's like they fall off the cliff in terms of services?" she said.

Damon Schuler, an Asperger Manitoba Inc. board member and an adult with autism who is attending college, said he doesn't get much support for his studies. "All it is is a different area to write my exam," he said.

Anne Kresta, current president of Asperger Manitoba, said as long as Thrive follows through with its long-term plan, she will be happy.

"The announcement today was very centred upon the ABA portion but we're looking more across the lifespan and we're really pleased to see that the lifespan issues are going to be addressed," she said.

Mackintosh said future Thrive initiatives will help people with autism of all ages.
"Until now, we started and ended with children," he said.

In a press release following the province's announcement, the Progressive Conservative party shrugged off Thrive and the funding for ABA as a pre-election tactic.

"The NDP government has underfunded this critical and proven form of therapy for children with autism until the eve of an election, when they finally decide to offer families an opportunity to continue therapy," said family services critic Bonnie Mitchelson.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 29, 2011 B3

First, I'd like to congratulate the government for doing at least this much for our younger children on the spectrum.

Second, I'd like to know where this leaves school age children!!!  My boy is nine years old, so Thrive won't be of any use in our EDUCATION SYSTEM!!!  Until the age of five, most families will receive or at least be offered Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA therapy) already, until that is, the child becomes of school age in which case ABA is dropped!!!  While I understand that there is a waiting list for ABA, the sad reality is that our provincial government only allows ABA up to age five.  When I finally got Dayton's diagnosis of PDD-NOS at age seven, I was told he was too old to receive ABA therapy.  A kind of slap in the face when Alberta's government allows this same therapy to continue through age twenty-one!!!

What I'd really like to see is ABA extended to these children throughout their school years!  Or hey, let's start offering the ABA therapy to those school age children who didn't get their diagnosis until AFTER age five.  It seems like services seem to disappear after this age, so makes sense to me that the government should be looking at school age children.  But what the hell do I know...  I'm just an autism mom, right?  Grrrrr...

And as for Anne Kresta...  Oh jeez...  The woman hates me so much she refuses to help other parents of children with autism if they have a relationship with me.  I really should have listened to my friend when she told me the woman was useless and to stay away from her.  But no.  I just had to meet her, hoping she would be of some help to our children...  Oh well, lesson learned.  A topic for another day.


Consider yourselves hugged,



  1. Lou, have you read the Thrive programming and principles outline (not just the media clips)? There is quite a lot in there for children of school age. More work to do, which we (advocacy agencies) are pushing for, but the Thrive plan is really quite significant, and uses a multi-faceted approach to the whole child. Brushing it off as inadequate or insignificant (as the Tories have) is to ignore the widespread benefits this plan would have for our kids. It's not perfect, but it is one hell of a good start.

    As far as Anne is concerned, I get that you have issues with her, and that you have strong feelings about her. However, I think it's important for you to know that she's the mother of two children on the spectrum, and that she dedicates a lot of her time to autism advocacy. And I mean A LOT of her time - personally and professionally. You may disagree with her on points, you may even disagree with her overall approach to advocacy, but I really feel strongly that it's inappropriate to badmouth her openly here, where she cannot defend herself or share her perspective on the situation. Because you are attacking her in her professional role, she really has to back away from this discussion and is forced to watch as you malign her publicly, since it would be unprofessional for her to engage you here. She may not be someone you like, respect, or approve of - but surely she deserves better than that.

    I work with Anne at AMI, and while we may not always agree, and we may have different advocacy styles, I recognize her as a woman who works hard to get the best for her children, as well as mine - and yours. As I've said before, infighting among Autism advocates hurts ALL of our children. I know your intentions are honourable, but I feel like there is no honour in how Anne is being spoken about here. We need to redirect our efforts in more positive ways.

  2. Caitlin, I'm afraid that you are correct. I have no respect for Anne at all. The emails she had sent me were far from professional. I've had parents contact me telling me that Anne's has flat out asked them if they have anything to do with me. Refusing parents help in her position is immoral. I've given her plenty of opportunity to speak with me, but I'm beneath her.

  3. Lou, isn't it true that a large portion of kids who have autism spectrum disorders are not diagnosed until they are school aged too? Or am I thinking of something else?

  4. You're right Dani, Dayton is one of those children. I've faught for four years to get Dayton's diagnosis, and have met other autism parents who are in the midst of fighting the same fight. Many started off receiving a global delays diagnosis and ADHD. It's a frustrating experience. In my case it seemed as though everyone else was in denial but me. When I finally got the diagnosis, it was bittersweet. In one sense, I felt vindicated for my uphill battle, in another I felt grieved.