Montreal

St-Hubert autism awareness march calls on province to do more

Parents of children living with autism marched in St-Hubert Sunday afternoon to raise awareness of a disorder they say the government doesn't do enough about.

Quebec Public Health Minister says new autism action plan to be released in the fall

Hundreds of parents marched in St-Hubert Sunday to raise awareness of autism spectrum disorders. Some say the lack of resources forces them to devise their own support programs. (Krystle Alarcon/CBC)

Two hundred parents of children living with autism marched in St-Hubert Sunday afternoon to raise awareness of a disorder they say the government doesn't do enough about.

Marie-Claude Proulx, who has two children with autism, said the provincial government's cut to services have been affecting her. 

Her son, who has severe autism, wasn't approved for disability allowance because she was told he only needed five hours of support per week.

Proulx and other parents are also worried about what will happen to their children once they come of age.

"After 21 years old, there's not much for them. Either they stay home or one of the parents have to quit their jobs and stay with them," Proulx said. "Most of them can't stay by themselves."

Taking matters into their own hands

Philipe Langevin (left) was diagnosed with autism at 4 years old. Today, he says karate helped him gain self-esteem and succeed as an adult with autism. (CBC)

André Langevin took matters into his own hands when he began karate classes for children with autism spectrum disorder and their parents.

Today, his son Philippe Langevin, who was diagnosed with autism at four years of age, studies chemistry at McGill University. 

"It gave me self confidence," said the now 22-year-old Langevin. "You do the exercises and you work very hard and as a result you pass belts as you progress towards black belts. The sense of achievement is a really good booster for our self-esteem."

Action plan to come

Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois, who was also in attendance at the Autisme Montérégie-organized march, admitted the government falls short on services for people with autism spectrum disorders.

"Nobody has the same level of autism. So we've got to work with that," Charlebois said. 

Charlebois added that the province already teamed up with the Miriam Foundation to diagnose people in the Montreal region more quickly and offer services.

Charlebois said a new action plan based on a forum about autism last February will be released in the fall.

With files from Krystle Alarcon

now