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(Canada) Report on the enormous cost to parents with special needs kids

Aug 16, 2018, Toronto Globe and Mail: The high cost of special-needs programming Afshan Tafler has left no stone unturned in a bid to get help for her son, who has a form of autism known as pervasive developmental disorder and who also shows signs of giftedness. The Toronto-based whole-life coach enrolled him in a private school with smaller class sizes and an on-site occupational therapist. She also pays an additional $10,000 a year – above the school’s $23,000 tuition – for an even smaller, personalized program within the school that tailors the curriculum to his learning style. Then there are the specialized gymnastics lessons which cost $75 a week, the tutoring ($150 for two one-hour weekly sessions) and a $75 session a week with a psychologist who specializes in special-needs children. In the past, she has paid for physical therapy, play therapy, yoga and music programs, and speech therapy. She’s now enrolled him in a neurofeedback program, which involves tracking brain activity thorough sensors to try to identify neurological weaknesses and use visual cues to help the brain function better…. Many Canadian parents feel the public- and private-school systems simply can’t support their kids with special needs and are seeking out more specialized programs to help their children. But many programs aren’t covered under provincial or private-benefits plans, leaving parents out-of-pocket for thousands of dollars…. In addition to being underchallenged, many kids with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or learning disabilities simply get lost in large classrooms, says Aviva Goldberg, Toronto-based director of Works of Wonder, an in-home program that uses applied behaviour analysis (ABA) to help kids with autism, ADHD, or developmental disorders. Many languish on long waiting lists for school-led psychological and educational evaluations and other programs. … With funding dropping, parents step in. It’s why Ron Malis, a Toronto-based financial adviser, is all for using as many provincially-funded programs as possible. Seventy per cent of Mr. Malis’s clients are parents of kids with disabilities. “They are spending a significant amount of money on therapy, private schools and specialized child care,” he says, adding that programs such as ABA therapy can cost $5,000 a month….


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