With so much coverage being given to autism in the news recently I feel the need to give you my take on all the headlines. I have read many articles surrounding the new revamp to autism services in Ontario. Publicly funded therapy is being replaced by the government giving money directly to parents. Of course this will not in any way shorten waitlists because there is still only a finite number of qualified professionals to deliver Intensive Behaviour Therapy (IBI) or Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) programs. Many of these professionals will be seeking jobs elsewhere (other sectors or countries/provinces) because they won’t have government funded jobs anymore. Moreover, the amount of money being given to families won’t cover full time therapy anyways leaving these families in the same place they started, on a waiting list.
The part that no one is mentioning as an option for children is their parents. Parents are the biggest underutilized resource in this entire process. What if parents took control of the situation and started working with their children? What if parents were given the tools they needed to help their children at home? What if someone gave parents the confidence to be their child’s own therapist? What if parents were able to continue delivering therapy outside of therapy hours?
Parents may not have all the formal training that therapists, senior therapists and supervisors have but parents know their child best. Parents will need to know and understand how to parent their child on the spectrum because it's parents who will be there long after, therapists and other professionals are gone. I have personally seen how much more a child with ASD excels when they have parents who continue the skills being taught in therapy at home. Basically therapy changes from ‘therapy’ (at a certain number of hours/week) to a way of life for the child and family. It becomes the way in which you parent your child with ASD. In other words therapy never stops when parents are teaching at home.
I want parents to be fully embraced as equal partners in teaching their children with ASD. The ultimate goal for a parent is finding therapy for their child so that should not be put aside but why not start doing something while you wait? Even if you feel you are the most under qualified person to teach your child doing something is always better than doing nothing.
Learning the basics of ABA may take a bit of time but it’s better than waiting and once you have a handle on the basics you can teach any new skill using ABA principles. Start with a small change (I will teach my child to wash their hands before meal times) and build your way up teaching many new skills as you feel more comfortable with the process.
Parents you are your child's best resource for change, you are so important. Early intervention is key and if the world can’t deliver that to your child then it’s up to you.