Province provides additional support for autistic children

By Nigel Maxwell
April 12, 2018 - 5:00pm

Saskatchewan families with autistic children have received some extra support from the provincial government.

The 2018-2019 provincial budget fulfilled a promise made in last year's throne speech, providing children under the age of six with autism spectrum disorder $4,000 each year for support services. Prince Albert's Amy Braaten has twin five-year-old boys with autism. She said the money will help her get the stuff she needs as most things her boys need can get quite expensive.

"I've looked online for special sensory toys and they can be like $2,500," she said.

Liam and Lane are now in pre-Kindergarten but once they start full time school they will no longer qualify for therapy at the hospital, which means additional costs for Braaten if she wants to pursue further help. Braaten has other costs, too. Compression vests or weighted vests, which are used to calm the child, can be $100 a-piece.

"And then of course as they grow you need bigger ones, or you need heavier blankets and a heavy blanket can be an easy $200," she said.

Carol Tebay, Development Coordinator with Autism Services of Saskatoon, said she too was grateful for the funding, adding they've seen a huge increase in the number of families referred to their agency.

"Between the 2016-2017 year and this year there has been an over 17 per cent increase, we're seeing on average 13 new families every month," she said.

Tebay said while she welcomes any extra funding, they thinks more can be done. She said many children with autism spectrum disorder require support in various areas like behaviours, speech, and occupational therapies.

"And when you break down $4,000 per year, per child, it only works out to be about $330 a month so it isn't a huge amount," she said.

This source of funding is a new model. Tebay said the money will go directly to the parents and so they can decide how to spend it. In the past, the majority of funding was either through the heath authority or autism services to do service delivery.

 

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