April is Autism Awareness Month in B.C. and today, World Autism Awareness Day, is an opportunity to recognize children, youth and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by helping to raise awareness and increase understanding of this complex and prevalent neurological disorder.
ASD now occurs in approximately one out of every 88 births. Though its causes are not yet fully understood, ASD affects brain development and is characterized by impairments in communication, social interaction and restrictive and repetitive behaviours.
With early treatment, children with ASD can see dramatic improvements in language and cognitive abilities to help them achieve more meaningful communication with family and friends.
The Province is helping increase knowledge and improve service capacity throughout B.C. through the Autism Outreach Program. The program focuses on improving access to services in rural and remote communities and enhancing training for B.C. service providers.
Since the program was launched in response to public feedback in 2011, more than 1,250 B.C. parents, social workers and other autism service providers have received high-quality autism intervention training to better support their own children or the families they serve.
Autism organizations and community agencies host awareness events around the province throughout the month. To find out what's going on in your community or promote your own event, please visit: www.actcommunity.net/autism-awareness-month-2013.html
Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development -
"As expert knowledge of ASD continues to evolve and new research comes to light, it can be challenging for parents and service providers to know which therapies and interventions are best for their children. That's why the outreach program has been so important. It has helped connect B.C. families to vital, up-to-date information on services while at the same time increasing local capacity to provide those services."
Deborah Pugh, executive director of ACT - Autism Community Training -
"World Autism Awareness Day is a great international opportunity to consider what individuals with ASD can offer. With early support many can excel at school and in the workplace. Meaningful employment is the focus for this decade but to achieve it we need to improve our early interventions and school-based outcomes."
- B.C. offers a range of services and supports for children and youth with ASD and their families. It is the only province in Canada with a no-waitlist policy for families to access autism funding once their child or youth has received a confirmed diagnosis of ASD.
- With autism funding from the provincial government, families are able to choose the type of approved intervention that best meets the needs of their child.
- As diagnosis, knowledge and understanding of ASD and effective services and treatments has increased, so too has B.C.'s investment in services.
- Government provides more than $180 million annually for services that support children and youth with ASD and their families - including assessments, funding for early intervention, and education funding for students.
- For children under age six, families are eligible for up to $22,000 per year to assist with the cost of autism intervention services to promote their child's communication, social-emotional, pre-academic and functional life-skills development.
- For children and youth aged six to 18, families are eligible for up to $6,000 per year to assist with the cost of out-of-school intervention services. This is in addition to the $18,300 in per-pupil funding school districts receive to provide in-school interventions and services for every student diagnosed with ASD.
- The Ministry of Children and Family Development sponsors Douglas College to provide online training for behaviour interventionists at a significantly reduced rate to front-line service providers in rural and remote communities. To date, more than 85 students from 38 communities have taken the on-line course package.
For more information on ASD and the services and supports available, go to: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/autism/index.htm
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Children and Family Development