N.L. woman in Alberta says same supports aren't available back home for autistic daughter
Stacey Campbell says she pays $500 annually for assistance; some parents in N.L. spend $5K
A Newfoundlander living in Alberta says she can't move home with her family because the same level of supports don't exist for her autistic daughter.
They say there aren't enough resources available in their kids' inclusive classrooms.
Stacey Campbell is originally from Norman's Cove, Trinity Bay, and her husband is from Cape St. George on the west coast. They currently live in Fort McMurray with their one-year-old twins, and their four-year-old daughter, Lucie-Reine.
Campbell says they would love to move back home to the island.
"In a heartbeat. We wouldn't think twice about it — if the support was there," she said.
"We would have family support back home as well, where we don't have it here. But unfortunately, here is where everything is that she needs. So we're not going anywhere."
Early intervention program
Over the past year, Lucie has been diagnosed with a sensory processing disorder, OCD, and autism. She needs constant one-on-one supervision, because she has a tendency to wander, and she uses an iPad with specialized apps to communicate.
Campbell says the early intervention program at her daughter's school in Fort McMurray is making a big difference.
"We wouldn't be as far as we are with her if it wasn't for this program," she said.
"There's another girl in her class right now that has a one-on-one [educational assistant (EA)], like she does, and then there's some other students that have a three-on-one EA — that's in addition to the teacher and the class's EA," Campbell said.
Lucie also gets speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy sessions through the school program.
The school also has sensory rooms, which have equipment like swings, crash pads, and bean bags. Children with special needs can go into these rooms to bring themselves down to a calm, stable mood, so that they can go back into the inclusive classroom with the other students.
Campbell says it's an amazing program that's unique to Fort McMurray, offered through the Catholic school board.
Campbell says she did some research into programs that are available for Lucie in Newfoundland, but she was discouraged with what she found.
"The only thing home would be private tutors and such, which... unless my insurance paid for something, it would all be out of pocket," she said.
"The only early intervention that's home right now is a couple of hours once a month — and that's not even handy to what Lucie needs. She needs hours upon hours a day."
Campbell says she pays $500 annually for Lucie's program in Fort McMurray; all other costs are covered through the Alberta government and the Catholic school board.
CBC Investigates learned that some parents in Newfoundland and Labrador are paying upwards of $5,000 a year on outside supports.
Campbell says she wishes she could get the same level of support for her daughter in Newfoundland.
"It would make everything so much better," she said, noting that both sets of grandparents live on the island.
"They have aunts and uncles in Newfoundland, and cousins there. And they see them once a year — if we're able to travel, because travelling with Lucie is extremely difficult with her sensory issues."