Thursday, August 13, 2009

Autism Advocacy

I am posting here a copy of a letter I have sent to Ms. Yvonne Jones, leader of the opposition in our provincial government. She has shown herself to be an advocate for children with autism, and I wanted to share with her some of my own opinions concerning early intervention. I know lots of you out there share some of my views, and others may disagree as well. I urge you to contact her yourself, she seems to have "good listening ears"!!!
Contact her at

Dear Ms. Jones,

As the mother of a 4 year old boy diagnosed with autism, I would like to thank you for the attention you have been bringing to autism in our province. It is clear to me that you serve as an advocate for our children. With all the struggles inherent in parenting autism, all support is appreciated, and yours does not go unnoticed.

I heard on CBC radio today that you have been addressing the wait time for diagnoses of autism, and the subsequent wait for early interrvention services. Early intervention services is a topic of great interest to me. While children in Newfoundland and Labrador do not have to wait for ABA services when first diagnosed, they do have to wait for speech and occupational therapy services. ABA uses programs based on behavioural modification, and while many children with autism have severe sensory processing issues, ABA is not the best first step to meaningful intervention. We cannot discipline from our children behaviours that are based on sensory input need, we need instead to give them proper exercises and input activities which will take the place of "troublesome behaviours."Also, there are families like my own who do not feel that ABA is the proper intervention for their child.

My son has Asperger's Syndrome, and my husband and I found that ABA did not address his individual needs. As our understanding of the autism spectrum broadens, there will continue to be more and more higher functioning autism, and Asperger Syndrome diagnosed. We too feel that our children deserve immediate, and meaningful interventions. Parents of children with autism often face tough choices in terms of their ability to have two parents working full time. Yet, the costs of having our children benefit from private OT, of private speech while painfully waiting for these services is not cheap. I know, because I have had to pay for them out of my own pocket, like many other families. We all want what is best for our children, so we make these sacrifices. But, they are sacrifices.

So thank you for your voice in autism advocacy, and I encourage you to look deeply into our current early interventions, and to see the gaping holes that us parents must traverse.I will be sharing this letter with my blog about parenting Asperger's Syndrome, listed below under my signature.

Warm Regards,
Natalie Dalton

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