Families protest autism program changes

The Canadian Press

TORONTO–Hundreds of families and advocates of children with autism are protesting on the lawn of Ontario’s legislature today to urge the government to reverse changes to the autism program.
Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod announced last month that in order to clear a waiting list of 23,000 children, kids with autism would receive direct funding to pay for treatment.
Families will get up to $20,000 per year for treatment for children under six and $5,000 a year for children six to 18, but intensive therapy can cost up to $80,000 a year.
Parents are calling for the funding to be based on children’s individual needs, instead of just their age.
Tina Walker has two children on the autism spectrum–one on the wait list and one in full-time therapy–and she says she wants MacLeod to know it’s more important to help kids than to stick to a flawed policy.
Kristen Visser, whose six-year-old daughter is in therapy, says the government is not listening to the people, noting that families would not be protesting all over the province if the government had got the program right.