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(Canada) BC: Overhauling autism services; 7 year wait for one family

Nov 6, 2021, CBC: British Columbia—Major overhaul of autism and special needs supports causing concern, confusion for some B.C. parents https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/parents-concern-overhaul-autism-support-1.6239020

Advocacy group BCEd Access says the province has a duty to consult families with complex needs on the new hubs Changes to the province's delivery of supports to families of children with autism and other developmental disabilities are causing concern and confusion for some B.C. parents.

Currently, children with diverse needs in B.C. need a medical specialist's diagnosis to get the help they need.

Under the Ministry of Children and Family Development's new "one-stop family connections hubs" system, parents will be able to quickly access support — including expert intervention and therapies — without a diagnosis.

But the announcement of the new system has left many advocates and parents with more questions than answers.

Sam and Lana Kirk spent nearly seven years learning how the current system works to get an autism diagnosis for their high-functioning eight-year-old son, Matthew.

The Kirks say they are worried the new needs-based system for such a broadly-defined neuro-disorder will mean Matthew's supports won't be focused on his particular needs….

As part of B.C.'s current funding model for autistic children, the Kirks receive $6,000 per year and are able to pick and choose what supports are best for Matthew.

For Michelle Boshard, the current autism funding model has been critical to finding the right therapists to support her 17-year-old son, Aaron, whose behavioural complexities include a tendency to self-harm.

She says she wonders how dangerous her son's behaviour would have to get before they would be given the help he needs….

Michelle Boshard's 17-year-old son, Aaron, continues to have high care needs because of his ongoing tendency to self-harm, she said. (Michelle Boshard) "In an already difficult situation where parents are already having limitations, it's quite possible the structure and the function of the hubs will be a challenge," she said.