Friday, July 07, 2006

Ont. wins appeal on childhood autism therapy

Ont. wins appeal on childhood autism therapy

April Lindgren
CanWest News Service

Friday, July 07, 2006

TORONTO -- The Ontario government is not discriminating when it limits intensive treatment for autistic children to tots between two and five years old, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled Friday.

The decision represents a victory for the government, which had appealed a lower court judgment that found children who are denied the treatment upon entering school at age six are victims of discrimination based on age and disability.

The original suit, brought by 29 parents, sent shock waves through the provincial government because of the potential cost involved in extending the intensive one-on-one therapy that costs up to $60,000 annually per child. Some estimates suggest s many as one in 200 children are born with autism spectrum disorder.

Responding to the original decision back in April 2005, Premier Dalton McGuinty said he was concerned by a court ruling that requires a government to spend money it might not have.

The premier also said children with autism represent only a minority of youngsters with special needs.

“Do they then go to court on an ongoing basis for each and every one of their very special concerns and demand that the Province of Ontario be mandated to make certain expenditures to help out those families?”

When he was in opposition, McGuinty wrote to parents of autistic children promising to extend the intensive therapy to children six and older if he formed the next government.

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