One Man’s Poison is Another Man’s Fish
In the past few weeks, the St. Amant ABA program has been told by the government that they needed to restructure in order to cover kids in their program for longer into their school years and to get more kids off the pre-school waitlist. To help do this, there was a comparatively small increase in the funds for the program, about $100,000.
For children in the ABA program, a consultant will now be available to help schools with advice until the children graduate from high school or turn 21, whichever comes first.
In order to pay for this extended service, pre-school ABA kids will only get two years of in home support with a tutor there about 35 hours per week, rather than the three years offered in the past.
There’s also a year of support as the ABA child starts kindergarten, and then consultants are available to help teachers who work with the child throughout the school years.
To get support all the way from K to 12, ABA families lose one year of pre-school support and the help of an ABA tutor up until Grade 3. MFEAT, the parent support group for the ABA program is unhappy about these changes and wants them reversed.
While it’s easy to see why they’re upset, those of us who’ve had our kids in an alternative program, Autism Outreach, would love to have the luxurious levels of support that ABA children are receiving after the changes.
Families with kids in Autism Outreach do receive a few years of pre-school support, but they don’t get a tutor coming into their home 5 days a week like a kid in ABA would. They get a consultant who comes by every several weeks, not to work with the kids, but to train the parents to work with their own children. That’s actually a benefit, because the program is based on the idea of equipping parents to help their children, and it works.
However, after the first IEP meeting in Grade 1, the Autism Outreach program is done. The child is now about 5 or 6. That kid is no longer eligible for consultants who would come in and help the teachers. That child’s teachers and family are on their own. If that child had been in ABA, the child would have up to 15 more years of consultant support.
MFEAT thinks the ABA changes aren’t fair, and I guess we agree. While MFEAT is upset about getting “less,” others would be happy to have extended access to support for our kids at their reduced level. It’s just not fair.