Statement on World Autism Awareness Day
Dale Kirby (MHA, St. John’s North), NDP Critic for Education and for the Status of Persons with Disabilities, has released this statement regarding World Autism Awareness Day:
World Autism Awareness Day is a day set aside to bring attention to the need to help improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder so they can lead full and meaningful lives.
While individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and individuals with different types of learning disabilities face different challenges in our education system, they are similarly challenged by all-too-frequent government indifference to their needs.
We know that early interventions are important for ensuring that children have the individualized and intensive supports they need to succeed in school. Instead, lengthy waiting lists are forcing parents in Newfoundland and Labrador to wait for a year or more before their children receive pediatric assessment and diagnostic services.
To make matters worse, this year’s provincial budget proposes to cut the Department of Education’s direct funding to programs for children with special needs by over 50 per cent. Tens of millions of dollars in cuts to funding for schools are endangering vitally important program specialist areas like itinerant teachers, speech language pathologists, and educational psychologists.
At a time of historic prosperity, the Dunderdale government’s financial mismanagement is resulting in further difficulty for parents and children with autism spectrum disorder. It is shameful that government continues to tout a commitment to inclusive, quality education while at the same time cutting very programs and services children need to succeed in school.