Parents with developmentally disabled children share fears of losing support
'I don't sleep at night, thinking about what's going to happen with my son'
Fear of her son's next birthday is causing Mary Beth Rocheleau to lose sleep.
Gregory is severely autistic. He's 16 and in two years his funding from the provincial government will be cut off leaving the family to apply for adult funding and join many others waiting to see if they'll be supported again.
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Rocheleau was one of several parents of children with developmental disabilities who shared their concerns during a public meeting hosted by Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky Thursday — fear of the future was a common theme.
"I'm scared to death," said Rocheleau. "I don't sleep at night, thinking about what's going to happen with my son. When I don't have the funding, I really don't know what I'm going to do."
Can't just hire a babysitter
Like many at the meeting, Rocheleau hopes the government will change its policies before her child passes the current age limit. She said she'll be waiting and hoping for the next two years, but even parents of much younger children are worried.
"We are so dependent on our funding," explained Sherri Taylor who uses government money to pay for respite workers to help support her six-year-old son with autism.
"We can't leave them alone with just anybody with their special needs. You can't just hire a 13-year-old babysitter," she added. "You have to have a respite worker and our workers are over $15 an hour."
Taylor said her family is "going broke" paying for her son's therapy out of pocket because it isn't covered by OHIP or insurance.
Gretzky plans to take the parents' concerns and a petition to Queen's Park to challenge the provincial government on its support for families dealing with developmental disabilities.
Adult children who need developmental help must re-apply @ 18yrs old. Hard transition +long waits. <a href="https://twitter.com/LGretzky">@LGretzky</a> addressing that now @ town hall <a href="https://t.co/egLtrR02YT">pic.twitter.com/egLtrR02YT</a>—@JasonViauCBC