Autism program oversight urged by Ottawa parent
Ontario youth services minister promises committee to look into program
An Ottawa father is upset at the Ontario government for not keeping tabs on their autism intervention program, after he said his six-year-old son was kicked out of the program without a good explanation.
David Hurd said he has spent a year pressuring the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to explain why his son Michael was discharged from CHEO's autism intervention program last year.
Hurd said Michael was diagnosed with severe autism as a toddler and he needs intensive therapy to learn basic interactions.
The provincial government spends a total of about $186 million on all its autism intervention programs each year, which includes the intensive therapy program Hurd said Michael was involved in.
Evaluation of program likely not done
When his son was discharged from CHEO, Hurd said he was upset there was no mandatory assessment. He complained to CHEO and, unsatisfied with their response, he turned to the provincial ministry.
He said he received some documents, but not the evaluations of local programs.
An employee with the office of Ontario's privacy commissioner told Hurd those documents likely do not exist.
"One can only conclude that the ministry was not doing the evaluations as per the guidelines," said Hurd.
Hurd said he wants to make sure the local programs are following the rules so all children with autism are treated fairly.
Minister promises advisory committee
On Wednesday morning in Queen's Park, NDP children and youth services critic Monique Taylor pushed the minister in charge of the portfolio, Eric Hoskins, to address the lack of oversight of the program.
Hoskins promised to form a committee of experts to advise the ministry on how to improve the autism intervention program and provide better oversight.
He said the committee will "provide advice on effective interventions, emerging research and best clinical practices so that we have the experts on an ongoing basis that can assure the parents and children or youth are getting the care they require."
Hurd said he hopes his fight will help other parents get their own answers.
"It's not fair to the parents first of all, it's not fair to these children," said Hurd.