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Canada: Ontario needs to improve services for students with autism

Nov 3, 2017, Huffington (Canada): Ontario’s Education System In Crisis For Students With Autism http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/janet-mclaughlin/ontario-s-education-system-in-crisis-for-students-with-autism_a_23262291/ So is it an exaggeration to use the word crisis? We don't think so. We see evidence of this crisis every day: when students with disabilities are denied the specialized equipment that would help them communicate and learn; or when students with disabilities wander out of their schools due to a lack of appropriate staffing and supervision. We think it's a crisis when policies vary so widely that one child in one school board is told he can't bring his autism service dog to school but another child in a different board can. We know it's a crisis when we regularly hear about parents who are so fed up with fighting the school system that they resort to homeschooling or sending their children to private schools. So is it an exaggeration to use the word crisis? We don't think so. … Over the last two months, the Ontario Autism Coalition, a grassroots advocacy group with over 3500 members, launched a survey about the experiences of autistic students. The early results are striking, and they raise serious questions for the minister of education. A strong majority of respondents, 72 per cent, believe that their child does not receive the level of support that they need at school. Close to 60 per cent indicated that they had been told by a professional that their child required one-to-one support in the classroom, but only 17 per cent of respondents said their child got it. ...yet 26 per cent of respondents indicated they were asked to keep their child home during a field trip because the school could not provide the proper supports. And 16 per cent indicated that their child had been placed in a room such as a closet, storage room, office or a washroom in order to "keep them safe." Meanwhile, 29 per cent of respondents indicated their child had been handled or restrained by school staff in the past year, with 14 per cent reporting that their child had sustained injuries due to these actions. Just 27 per cent of parents felt that their child was safe at school all of the time, and 11 per cent of parents felt that their child was "hardly ever" safe at school. …