Sunday, July 12, 2015

6 Years Later New Brunswick STILL Hasn't Addressed Adult Autism Care

Years have passed, governments have come and gone, but still the elected  members of 
the New Brunswick legislative assembly, despite international recognition for its parent
 advocacy driven early intervention and school autism services, have not seen fit to provide
 a systemic adult care autism system in New Brunswick.

The following blog commentary is a re-post, word for word, of a commentary I posted on May 5, 2009: Autistic Adult Care Improvements Long Overdue in New Brunswick.  Since then one group home has received some training for staff from UNB via the Department of Social development. Beyond that though there has been very little progress. As I said in concluding 6 years ago:"The time to help autistic adults is overdue though ... long overdue"  Today, over 6 years later, that statement is truer, and sadder, than ever:

I have said often on this blog that I am very happy with the progress that has been made here in New Brunswick in addressing the needs for evidence based autism treatment and in ensuring that autistic children receive a real, quality education. There are still problems that have to be addressed concerning preschool interventions for and education of autistic children but the distance we have traveled in the six years since then Health Minister Elvy Robichaud announced in the New Brunswick legislature that the government was committing funds specifically to autism is remarkable. That progress has, for the most part though, been confined to autistic children. New Brunswick's adults with autism disorders are badly in need of improvements to the barely existent residential care system for autistic adults.

Despite the substantial, and increasing, numbers of autistic adults and the complexity of the challenges they face New Brunswick does not have a residential care system dedicated specifically to adults. New Brunswick adults with autism who require residential care currently live in group homes with persons with other challenges. The problem with a general residential care system is that the staff working in such places will not generally have autism specific training. Nor are the locations necessarily appropriate for persons with autism disorders.

The good will of New Brunswick's political leadership, from either of the two parties that have governed, is no longer a matter of debate in the mind of this autism dad. The path to progress began under the Conservative government of Premier Bernard Lord and has taken some major leaps forward under the Liberal government of Premier Shawn Graham. It would be dishonest for me not to acknowledge what both leaders and their parties have done for New Brunswick's autistic children. Far from slamming these leaders and their parties I personally thank them for what they have done to help our children with autism spectrum disorders.

The story is different though when it comes to New Brunswick's autistic adults where all aspects of autistic life have been largely neglected or mishandled. While there are many pressing needs at the adult level the fact is we have long been in desperate need of an autism specific residential care system with properly trained personnel. Such a system would require autism specific residences in each region of the province with autism trained staff.

There is also a need for a central adult autism treatment and residential care facility in Fredericton. That need is proven by the fact that New Brunswick has sent its more severely affected autistic youths and adults to facilities outside the province including to Maine in the United States. We currently have autistic adults living in the psychiatric facility in Campbellton. I know of at least one instance in Saint John where an autistic adult was living on a hospital ward. In the past an autistic youth, charged with no crime, convicted of no crime, was housed on the grounds of a youth correctional facility in Miramichi while awaiting a spot at the Maine facility.

The talent reservoir for the establishment of an adult care centre already exists in Fredericton which is centrally located providing relatively convenient access compared to more remote locations. The Stan Cassidy Centre which provides pediatric tertiary care services is located in Fredericton on the grounds of the Chalmers Hospital. The main campus of the University of New Brunswick and its excellent, community involved, psychology centre is located in Fredericton. The UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program is located in Fredericton and has already indicated that it foresees no problem in developing a training program for adult care workers. All of these resources could be drawn on to supplement and support a modern, secure community based and autism specific residential care and treatment facility.

New Brunswick needs a publicly operated, not for profit, community based residential care system for autistic adults with facilities in each region and a central facility in Fredericton capable of providing in house residential care and treatment for the more severely autistic adults for whom the group homes have already been proven not to be a solution. The political leadership of this province has shown a conscience, substantial good will, and determination in helping autistic children. The time to help autistic adults is overdue though ... long overdue.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Dr. Glen Davies at Medicare for Autism Now! Rally June 27 2015

 Dr. Glenn Davies at the Medicare for Autism Now! rally June 27 2015 discusses evidence in support of behavioural intervention in treating autism, the lack of autism coverage under Canadian Medicare compared to the US Medicaid state to state mandate and the example of Wisconsin which is far ahead of all Canadian jurisdictions in providing treatment for autism.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Conor After Another Seizure

Conor has been on  a good run for the previous 7-10 days and today was pretty much the same until 6:15 this evening when we heard a loud thump uupstairs.  His mom ran upstairs and screamed for help when she saw him convulsing on the floor with thick fluids oozing out of his mouth.  We had to keep him on his side with his head away from any corners or hard objects.   This was Conor's 4th grand mal seizure since Christmas. Conor's convulsions did not appear to last too long compared to some previous seizures ..  approximately 2 minutes.  Stilll 2 minutes of your son in convulsions is enough to scare you all over again. Conor also recovered quite well. The picture above was taken 45 minutes after the seizure and while he was still a bit groggy he was regaining alertness, speech and walking ability.  He is now sleeping soundly exhausted from another seizure.  I just checked and his head was on the side on his pillow  and he was breathing loudly but clearly.  Dad is starting to relax ... a little bit.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Medicare for Autism NOW! Campaign Kick Off Today!

Vancouver, BC – Today, the Medicare for autism Now! Society (“MFAN”), a non-partisan, not-for-profit, all volunteer organization, announced the launch of its nation-wide One in 68 campaign. “We will be holding a Campaign Kick-off this Saturday, June 27th, at Douglas College, New Westminster, between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm,” said MFAN director and campaign manager, Dr. Sherri Brown, “It will outline the rationale for our initiative and lay-out our action and advocacy agenda leading to the federal election on October 19th, less than four months away.”

The MFAN campaign takes its name from the fact that, currently in North America, one in 68 children are being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). “There is a national epidemic of staggering proportion happening in Canada,” said MFAN director, Jean Lewis, “And, unlike the situation in the United States, our federal government has to date failed miserably to demonstrate long overdue leadership in addressing this major and growing national health care challenge.”

The One in 68 campaign will seek firm commitments from those who wish to hold elected office in Ottawa to vote in favour of necessary changes to the Canada Health Act so that persons living with ASD across our country will have science-based treatment for their core health need covered by Medicare. MFAN intends to focus its efforts on  a limited number of highly competitive electoral districts in various parts of Canada. In Metro Vancouver, these include: Burnaby North-Seymour, Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam, Delta, Surrey Centre, Surrey-Newton, Vancouver Centre and Vancouver Quadra.
For further information, contact Jean Lewis at 604-290-5737 or at