Wynne Liberals are leaving families in need of autism services languishing on waiting lists

November 2, 2017

New Democrats call for action to get children the services they need

QUEEN’S PARK – London West MPP Peggy Sattler was joined by constituent Jessica Ashton, and Ontario Autism Coalition President Bruce McIntosh, to call on the Wynne government to stop ignoring families left languishing while waiting for autism services.

Ashton waited over a year just to get a diagnosis for her son, who is now three and a half. Following the diagnosis she was devastated to learn that there were nearly 1,000 children ahead of her son on the waitlist for services.

“At that moment I realized my son would likely not receive treatment for years to come. I thought to myself, this can’t be happening. All of my research to that point had urged that early intervention and therapy is imperative and essential to future progress,” said Ashton. 

Refusing to sit idly by, Ashton took action. With her husband Scott Miller, she created a petition demanding that the government immediately address the long waits for children with autism to access services. She then contacted Sattler’s office to share Ashton’s story. 

“This family’s experience is completely unacceptable,” said Sattler. “It is no wonder that almost 6,500 Londoners – in only two months – have signed on to support Jessica’s petition campaign. Families of children with autism already have extremely stressful, exhausting lives. They should not have to fight every step of the way to get the services their children need to thrive.”

McIntosh said that while autism activists have won some important improvements in the past two years, the government still has some vital changes to make if they are going to reduce the waitlists facing families. He also drew attention to the gaps in service for children with autism at schools. 

“The Ministry of Children and Youth Services must work with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development to train and certify as many behaviour analysts as possible,” said McIntosh. “Secondly, the Ministry of Education must accelerate their training program for Education Assistants. This must begin now and not a year from now, as the Ministry of Children and Youth Services has suggested as a time frame. Waiting, where children are concerned, is negligent.”

Following the media conference, MPP Sattler will deliver Ashton’s petitions to the minister. Ashton has also planned a rally with families in London on Nov. 8, and a march to Deputy Premier Deb Matthews’ local office.