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(Canada) BC: Families on waiting lists for up to a year to get help for kids with ASD

Mar 4, 2018, (Canada) Squamish (BC) Chief: Family faces long waits to get help for son with autism http://www.squamishchief.com/news/local-news/family-faces-long-waits-to-get-help-for-son-with-autism-1.23191201 Anna Tobias waited six months for her son, George, to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and then another year for him to be assigned a support worker while he’s in daycare. George, now 4 1/2, theoretically has 24 hours a week of one-to-one support, but a lack of child-care staff and rules on when he can access that support means that he is sometimes left struggling. The provincial and federal governments recently announced major investments in child care in B.C., including money to improve programs for children with special needs. Tobias is sharing her story to shed light on some of the shortcomings of the current system. George was almost three when his parents, concerned about his speech delay, took him to see a pediatrician. He was referred to the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health; six months later, he was diagnosed with mild to moderate autism. … The B.C. government gives families of children under six up to $22,000 a year to pay for autism-related therapies, including a one-to-one support worker while the child is at daycare. “The problem is the wait-list is over a year,” Tobias said. … “He gets one-on-one support as often as we can find the extra bodies,” said Joanne Specht, a spokeswoman for the centre. “But there are occasions when he doesn’t get the support because there’s no one to fill the position.” Low wages of between $15 and $17 an hour are a major barrier to finding qualified staff in the field, Specht said. … Andrew Pinfold, Autism B.C.’s director of operations, said waiting six months to a year to get help for their children, especially in the crucial formative years, is difficult for parents. Many parents who believe their child is on the autism spectrum pay up to $3,000 for a private diagnosis instead of waiting, Pinfold said. But for parents with lower incomes, this is not an option. …