Kitchener-Waterloo

Waterloo mother happy autism treatment to be based on need, not age

Janet McLaughlin, a Waterloo mother of a child with autism, said protests by parents to the Ontario government to change autism treatment forced the province to change its mind.

Janet McLaughlin says protests by parents forced the province to change its mind

Janet McLaughlin and her son Sebastian, who is now almost five years old. Sebastian, who has autism, has been on a waiting list for therapy for almost three years. But the province recently changed the rulesand soon Sebastian will be too old for the province to cover the therapy. (Janet McLaughlin)

Tuesday was an emotional day for Waterloo mother Janet McLaughlin.

She said was thrilled to hear the province backtracked on changes to funding for children with autism.

Now, parents feel the government listened to them.

"What it means is that my child will hopefully receive the full amount of therapy that he needs based on his clinician's assessment rather than based on his age. And that we will be provided with the support we need to give him that therapy rather than having to pay for it ourselves," she said.

McLaughlin's son Sebastian, who has autism, had been on a waiting list for almost three years to receive intensive behavioural intervention treatment, or IBI.

The Ontario government said it will now provide families of children with autism, $1,000 a week for private therapy sessions for as long as they're waiting for a spot in the new program.

The new program will now begin in 2017.

Mclaughlin said she believes the protests launched by parents four months ago made the government change its mind.

"Maybe as a result of all of us coming together, there has been greater awareness of autism raised and hopefully with this awareness, a greater acceptance as well," she said.

The recently appointed Minister of Youth Michael Coteau said the goal is to eliminate the waiting list.

"As we start to implement the new program in June of next year, we're going to have an implementation team, an advisory team helping us transform to that new system," Coteau said.

"Once the program is established, we can move forward on a two to three year review once that program is in place. But our intention is to, within a five year period, never have a wait list here in the province of Ontario again."

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