Last night I made the mistake of flipping through the dial and a bigger mistake of settling in on the CBC news broadcast from Vancouver. There, I watched a remarkably sad story about an autistic child who doesn’t speak and his wait for therapy. You can read all about the story here.
As you know, I have more than a passing interest in this issue given that I’m the Head of School of Canada’s leading high school for young adults with learning style differences and learning disabilities. We pride ourselves on a lot here, nothing more so than providing thorough and immediate services to our school population.
Back to the story, this child is 4 years old and has been waiting for speech therapy for close to three years. In fact, from his initial referral to this first appointment, the wait was (seriously) 920 days.
It gets better. British Columbia has what’s known as a “no-wait policy,” for autistic children to get therapy. Before we point fingers at BC, the sad reality is that here in Ontario it’s much, much worse. The wait time for therapy here, as per the news article, can be up to four YEARS.
The reality of treatment for autism should mirror the reality of services at our school. Here, students wait for nothing – the services they need are provided daily. And even though we are a private school, we are a part of the YMCA, meaning that we will never turn a mission-appropriate student away because of a family’s inability to afford our tuition.
I hope that this news story drives some change in BC and makes us all better consumers of what our children need. I hope it also helps redefine the term “no-wait,” for people who need to interpret and implement policy.
Don Adams, Head of School