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(Canada) Sask: ASD "needs not being met"; "increasing complex needs"

Feb 7, 2024, Delta News: Sask. families of children with autism say their kids’ needs are increasingly not being met in the classroom


The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health is dealing with a serious backlog of children who need autism assessments and the wait is affecting kids in the classroom.

Reporter: Michelle Kramer says her seven year old son’s report card should be a clear indicator he needs an autism assessment. …

Kramer says she first tried to get him assessed for autism spectrum disorder or ASD through Child and Youth Services five years ago.

It wasn’t until early last spring she was put on the waitlist.

She was told then to expect a call in January 2025.

In the meantime, the single mom is down to part time hours at work.

That’s because she keeps getting calls from her son’s school asking for her to pick him up because he’s disrupting his class.

Michelle: It starts to feel impossible. I’m not living a normal life, and I’m asking for help and not getting it.

Reporter: The Ministry of Health has confirmed with CBC News, as of the end of 2023, there were slightly more than 1,700 kids under 18 waiting for a public ASD assessment.

The increasing complex needs of students is a major sticking point in the teachers’ labor dispute with the government.

The Ministry of Education says a new pilot program in eight city schools is meant to help.

And so is the $20 million [$15M] that’s given divisions to hire staff to respond to classroom complexities.

It says this money isn’t tied to a medical diagnosis, but some divisions say documentation from the third part like a doctor helps determine what extra support is needed.

That’s what Kramer is looking for.

Michelle: It isn’t fair to the staff and the admin at his school because now my son is chewing up all their time, and they have a whole school  that they’re responsible for.


Reporter: Shannon Hill is a board certified behavior analyst in Saskatoon and says Kramer and her son are not alone.

Shannon: There’s just not enough of those people to go around to be able to see these kids, number one.

Number two, the cost involved if you have to have someone do a private assessment is onerous for some people. It’s just not going to happen.

Reporter: Kramer says the $3,000 [$2,200] private ASD assessment is not an option for her and she worries about the long term impact of putting it off.

Some experts say if kids don’t have the supports they need early on, it could lead to higher school dropout rates and lower literacy levels.

At this point, Kramer doesn’t anticipate that for her son, and she says she see the effort school staff are making to meet his and her needs. …


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