NDP calls for comprehensive strategy for autism spectrum disorder
October is Canadian Autism Awareness Month and Learning Disabilities Awareness Month and Dale Kirby (MHA, St. John’s North), NDP Critic for Education and for the Status of Persons with Disabilities, is launching a petition, calling for a comprehensive autism spectrum disorder strategy for the province.
“A comprehensive strategy is long overdue, because autism spectrum disorder is now so prevalent amongst our population. We need to give children with autism more of a fighting chance,” said Kirby.
Kirby also plans to enter a motion in the fall sitting of the House of Assembly calling for a comprehensive, province-wide autism strategy.
Autism spectrum disorder refers to a range of neurological conditions that affect the way the brain functions and result in difficulties with communication and social interaction.
Children with autism need individualized and intensive supports as early as possible, in order to succeed in school and make successful transitions from school to function in society.
“Early diagnosis and interventions are crucial,” said Kirby. “But lengthy waiting lists are forcing many parents to wait a year or more for the pediatric assessments and diagnostic services their children need.”
Parents who can afford it are taking their children to other provinces for diagnostic services while families with more limited resources often wait for years. “This amounts to privatization of health services for children with autism, and it is the children who are losing the opportunity for early treatment and a better start in life,” said Kirby.
“I encourage people to sign this petition and send the message to government that diagnostic services for children with autism need to be improved, starting now.”