Back to School-More Worries For Parents With Autistic Children

September 6, 2016 by dccinc

It’s back to school time and many households are dealing with the nerve-jangling ritual that comes along. However, there are many parents in Ontario with autistic children that have a different set of worries than a typical family does (Read more about the Ontario disability tax credit). A recent change in Ontario’s autism services for children is going to lead to an increased influx of children that require additional support. This has led many parents of autistic children to wonder if their children will be able to get the help they are entitled to. An article in the Toronto Star by Andrea Gordon and Kristin Rushowy shines a light on this issue. Take a look at this excerpt from the article.

Recent changes to the province’s autism services for children will result in an influx of students coming to school who need additional supports, she added.

But there’s a long way to go before those Ontario students get the help they are entitled to, whether it’s one-on-one educational assistants or more teachers trained to use the principles of applied behaviour analysis (ABA) that are effective for many children on the autism spectrum and others.

Autistic children are being neglected at school

There are many parents who are actively advocating for their special needs children receive the education and support that they are legally entitled to. Many cases have also shown that educators are neglecting children with special needs as well as having low expectations of them. Here is an excerpt from the article which shows the result of a report written by children and youth with special needs.

A groundbreaking report written by children and youth with special needs last spring found many youth felt shut out by educators who had low expectations of them. A common complaint was that they didn’t get the critical supports they needed to learn and succeed, said the report, led by Ontario Children’s Advocate Irwin Elman.

Another problem faced in Ontario is the lack of support staff at schools and inefficient funding. A stunning finding by People for Education report mentioned in the article states that in 2014, half of Ontario’s elementary school principles asked students with special needs to stay home from school because of the lack of special ed staff. The report also found that there is only one special ed teacher for an average of 37 special needs children. This is clearly a problem as a lack of special ed staff coupled with the increased influx of special needs children in school this year can lead to many disappointed parents and many special needs children not getting enough support they require.  Here is another excerpt from the article that shows the increase in the number of autistic children in Ontario.

The number of Ontario students with autism jumped to almost 19,000 students in 2013-14 from fewer than 5,000 in 2002-03, according to Ministry of Education statistics. And that’s only part of the special needs population.

Therefore, it has now become even more important for the government to put more importance on special ed teachers and providing sufficient support for special needs children. This could be in the form of funding as well as school boards spending the funding in an efficient manner. Ontario Autism Coalition is one of many groups fighting for autistic children. For example, they recently fought the province over a decision that would have removed kids 5 and older from wait lists and out of intensive treatment which would have led them without the services they had been promised. Therefore, it is up to groups like Ontario Autism Coalition as well as the parents and the school board to tackle this issue and make sure that special needs children are given what they are entitled to which is education and support.

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