25 July 2010

Autism Funding in BC, part 2

Last post, I talked about Autism Funding in BC for children under six. The gist: Underfunded, complicated, and designed to make you pay instead of them.

So, now, the 6 and up program:

First off, when you're six, you're magically better by about 80% because that's how much your funding goes down. Instead of 22,000/year, you get $6000/year. The schools are supposed to make up the difference. HA! Such shit. Get this, they are allowed to take your child's funding, and put it in their general fund, providing your child only as much service as they deem fit. Take, for example, Snap. Her accommodations at school require her to have a quiet room for testing, and the ability to leave a noisy classroom. That's it. For this, the school gets $16,000. Think of an equivalent. I dare ya.

Now, I could happily spend a ton of that getting her social group counselling, music therapy, riding therapy, tutoring, someone to help her organize herself for school and life. But no, I get $6000 per year to spend on her therapies. *All* of which should be fully covered, and would be if they actually treated Autism as a health care issue. HAHAHAHA! Right, because physiotherapy, chiropractors, naturopaths and podiatrists are covered too. HA! Anyway. You get my point.

Now, I grant you, Snap is high functioning, and it's great that some of her cash can fund kids who are lower functioning (I'm a socialist at heart, you know!) However, that's not happening! There are kids who cannot speak who are denied speech therapy, because they don't know what to do with them! It's insane. The speech paths are more or less 'articulation teachers'. So if Kid X has a lisp, great, they can help. If Kid Y has a harelip, sure, they're all over it. But if Kid A (for Autism! I'm so clever...) has no speech whatsoever? Or like Crackle, has about 20 barely decipherable words, good luck with that.The speech paths are not interested. Go hire your own. At $100/hr.

And what about the assistants? Crackle is going to require a full time assistant. Not that long ago, a parent had to sue the Abbotsford school board to get them to give them an assistant who was more than functionally in control of the child, but actually was there to teach them. See: http://www.autismsocietycanada.ca/pdf_word/Judge%20Koenigsberg_re_HewkovBC_11_03_06.pdf Do I expect to get an assistant who can do a damn thing for us? Nope. I'm going to have to fight, I'm sure.

Like the Under 6 program, any therapy we do get for Snap, the therapist or counsellor has to bill the government directly. This is a big hoop, because they often don't get paid in a timely manner. This in turn means many of them won't work for Autism clients unless they're being paid out of pocket. We cannot be reimbursed for out of pocket payments. So this means some hard searching to get people who will go through the hassle of fighting the trolls at the Autism Funding Unit.

The nice thing about the over 6 program is that there is coverage for family counselling and that sort of thing. I don't know why they don't think people with kids under 6 with autism need counselling, but once they hit 6 they do. It's kind of screwy, to say the least.

Neither program covers biomedical treatments. I suspect this is because they don't want to admit this is a health problem. If it is a health problem, they're going to be required under federal law to fund treatment. However, as a Whatever They're Calling It problem, they can fund it under the Ministry of Children and Families, and make cuts whenever and however they see fit. It's disgusting. Biomedical treatment is crucial, to recovery. And I don't mean cure so don't start Jenny McCarthy shrieking at me. She seriously needs to shut up. She's right about a few things, and seriously fucking wrong about others. It's annoying. Anyway, I digress. Biomedical treatments for autism include, but aren't limited to, vitamin therapy, natural antibiotic and anti-viral therapies, and chelation for metals and other industrial pollutants. These have done far far more for Crackle (and Snap, for that matter) than any other treatment to date. And they've cost us thousands of dollars. Well worth it, given the results - Snap's unbelievably better, to the point where, if not for her history, she'd never receive an autism diagnosis today. Crackle, well, he's improved to the point where we don't qualify for respite funding any more. He's still got a zillion issues, but he's able to play with toys now. And that is a marked improvement.

It is so unbelievably shortsighted to underfund autism treatment. Honestly, without biomed, I don't see most ASD kids as having a chance at living a life without government funding. And lots of parents can't pay for that. To underfund ABA treatment, and then have the kid grow up to need a group home? Stupid. To underfund the school system and have the kid grow up to need full time care? Supremely stupid.

Yes, and when they're 18, they're apparently cured. No funding at all. Welcome to the group home unless your parents can afford to buy your help for you. Not impressed.


Ignorance said...

I guess the current state of autism funcing in British Colombia is the result of policy changes by the BC Liberals. Did the NDP manage to change a lot during their past tenure? (Going of the election results as listed by Wikipedia.)

Luna said...

Honestly, I don't know. We weren't clued into the autism scene until Crackle's diagnosis. Snap, while older, was diagnosed late because she's higher functioning, and doctors are stupid. (Higher functioning girls often present a lot differently from boys, and then doctors dismiss their symptoms.)

Coach said...

Our higher functioning son was pretty much excluded from his grade 6 graduation celebration at his BC Small town francophone school. There were 5 kids graduating from grade 6. He was the only special needs child. The principal wrapped her arms around the 4 girls and she spoke in the female gender while our son stood there by himself. Then the teacher got up and spoke a few words adressing each girl - no one mention our son by name nor did they adddress him. He just stood beside the girls being ignored. Then my son was given his completion certificate and the girls were given each a certificate and a gift. Is this BC's idea or real inclusion?

Luna said...

Oh Coach, how awful for him! I hope you kicked up a shitstorm with the school district. There is no excuse for that crap.