Feb 6, 2020, Global News: Durham Region teachers, autism community fight to keep special education supports https://globalnews.ca/news/6517748/durham-region-teachers-autism-community-picket/ Elementary teachers were back on the picket lines across the province and Durham Region Thursday, and so, too, were many parents of children with autism. Both groups had a common goal: keeping special education supports in the classroom. Thursday’s event also marks the anniversary of changes to the province’s autism program. For Shona Dandar, having her children home from school is becoming more and more of a common sight. But rotating teacher strikes aren’t the only hurdle she and her family have had to contend with lately. “We had waited for a couple of years already; we were extremely close to the top of the list,” said Dandar, who has two children affected by autism…. They joined members of the autism community to protest the one-year anniversary of the provincial changes and to take a stand with teachers picketing outside Whitby MPP Lorne Coe’s office. “We’ve had a year of uncertainty,” said Tara Stone, whose family is also affected by autism. “Although we have a different minister, we’ve got the same story: a decimated Ontario Autism Program.” The teachers are standing with them, too, not wanting to see the local autism community lose supports in the classroom….. “The Autism Program being implemented today looks a lot different than the changes which were proposed a year ago,” the statement reads. “Since then, we have listened and we have learned. We have doubled the budget to $600 million, consulted with the autism community and committed to a new-needs based program as recommended by a panel of experts, individuals with lived experience, and advocates. “The new program will ensure children with autism are supported for years to come.” Shona Dandar says that she and her family, like so many others, will continue to fight and advocate until the government stops pulling back on vital support and they start seeing progress in the autism file.