NOTES FOR REMARKS BY SENATOR JIM MUNSON ON THE NEED FOR A NATIONAL PROGRAM FOR THE TREATMENT OF AUTISM

Senators, two weeks ago in my reply to the Speech from the Throne, I emphasized the need for a National Program to treat Autism.  Not the patchwork of programs we see in some parts of the country.

 

Since I spoke, I have received dozens of emails and letters from coast to coast.  They are both heartwarming and heartbreaking.  It would take too long to read them all here.  But here are examples of what is happening in this country.  A country where it is alleged we have a universal medicare program.

 

Dear Senator Munson,

I am the parent of an autistic child. I am one of those parents who, for years, paid for my son’s early intervention program out of my own pocket.  The therapy started later than it should have, and ended earlier than it should have- all due to my financial limitations.

I sold my house to pay for the program, my elderly parents gave up their retirement nest egg and I sacrificed the university education fund of my other son to pay for the program.

 

Eventually, the bank refused to loan me any more money for my son’s medically necessary treatment and today I am still heavily in debt as a result.  However, my son made significant progress in this therapy program and it was well worth every penny.

 

Senators, I hope that when we echo the words of Canadians in this chamber that they are not empty words and someone is listening.  My government, all provincial governments must do more.  This is a crisis and if you read the statistics, it is only going to get worse.

 

Listen to another mother.

I am the mother of an autistic 3 year old child and it is frustrating for me to see that help is not readily available or provided as it is for other disabled children.

 

If my daughter had cancer she would be in hospital immediately and they would have doctors and specialists provided for her immediately.  For us, we would have to wait at least 10 months to get her seen by a doctor and with this disability 10 months is too long…

 

Senators we are talking about Canada’s children, children who without professional and financial help will never have a chance to participate in this community.

 

This can’t go on.  There must be a national will in helping tens of thousands of Canadians.

In closing, one parent wrote and said, I just pray for things will change for the better soon.  Well Senators for things to get better soon, provincial governments, working with the federal government, must fund treatment for autistic children.

 

The recommended treatment is Intensive Behavioural Intervention.  Provincial Health Care plans should be amended to include this medically necessary treatment for children with autism.  Funding for this treatment should be available to all individuals with a diagnosis of autism…  Regardless of age and severity of their infliction.

 

It has been said these treatments are costly……

Well Senators, there should be no price tag on the caring of a child in this blessed and generous country called Canada.