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(Canada) BC: School addresses needs of "neurodiverse students"

June 14, 2023, New Westminster (BC) Record: Neurodiverse students need timelier support: New West school board

New Westminster school trustees want to make sure neurodiverse students can get the support they need more quickly.

Trustees voted at their June 6 education committee meeting to advocate to the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Child and Family Development and the Ministry of Education and Child Care to reduce wait times for students who have been identified as needing educational assessments.

Trustee Danielle Connelly, who brought the motion to the committee, noted the idea had been brought forward at the B.C. School Trustees Association’s annual general meeting. A background report she provided to her fellow trustees pointed out that the province’s current funding model for students with diverse needs is partly based on completed assessments — but districts around the province have long internal wait lists for those assessments.

In B.C., as of Dec. 23, 2022, the overall wait time for an autism spectrum disorder assessment was more than 80 weeks from the time of referral. Some health regions report current wait times of at least two years (104 weeks).

Connelly’s report pointed out that children who’ve been identified with neurodiversity — such as autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and sensory processing disorder — need support plans, and information from those assessments is needed to design the programs and interventions they need.

Some families are choosing to get assessments done privately, but that means paying the costs out of pocket, and access to private assessments varies around the province. All of that, Connelly noted, means assessment wait times are a real equity issue….


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