Haldimand do not need an auditor general’s report to tell them that ASD services are in disarray. Our government should be commended for spending $182 million dollars on Autism treatment, however I have yet to meet a single Canadian family satisfied with their services. In 2007 there was thankfully, no wait list for Intensive Behavioral Intervention (IBI). Braydon spent two years working 24 hours a week, one-on-one with IBI therapists from Haldimand-Norfolk R.E.A.C.H. Essentially my toddler had a part-time job and after two years our family was unable to keep up the pace of it. Over $100,000 was spent on Braydon’s Autism Services, but now we were left to fend for ourselves.
Last week National Service Dogs for Children with Autism (NSD) asked a very interesting question on their Facebook page. Has the government considered Service Dogs? In 2012 my son was granted a Certified Autism Service Dog. Before that time, our only options for treatments were pharmaceuticals or privately funded and enormously expensive traditional therapies that were not effective at tracking results. Today, Braydon attends J.L. Mitchener Public School in Cayuga where he is thriving socially and academically. His service dog ‘NSD Whoopi’ attends school with him each and every day. Last month at Braydon’s Parent-Teacher interview I was told that my son was easy to integrate with his peers and all the students seemed to behave better when he and Whoopi were in the classroom. I have a very different little boy than I did a year ago, and the change in my son brings a flood of welcome respite to our home.
$30,000 might seem like an excessive amount of money for a Certified Autism Service Dog, however consider a Service Dog has a working life of 8-10 years. This means for some families like us; desperate for an alternative to treating our son’s autism with medication would receive 24 hour a day, 7 days a week support for 10 years for only $30,000! How much of the $182 million dollars spent on Autism Treatment this year was allocated to this alternative? Zero dollars!!! Incredibly National Service Dogs for Children with Autism provided us this option at absolutely no costs to us either. It is the generosity of the staff and volunteers at NSD and the support of our families and friends right here in Haldimand that brought accessibility for our family to our community. As a result, all of us are able to embrace a much higher quality of life than most families affected by Autism are able to experience.
So…let’s talk about making Certified Autism Service Dogs an available treatment alternative to more families. For the Silo, Jenny Tansley.