Thursday, April 05, 2007

More Autism In The News

This news item is not only exciting for its content, but I was excited to look it up online and see Will's image on the screen. It seems that Global and CTV news are still using Owen and Will's film coverage from back when we did the press conference:

Senate committee urges national autism plan
Updated Fri. Mar. 30 2007 9:10 AM ET

Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- Canada should develop a national plan to deal with autism, including new measures to help families saddled with huge bills for therapy, a Senate committee said Thursday.

A report of the upper chamber's social affairs committee said Ottawa should convene a federal-provincial-territorial conference to produce a national plan to deal with autism and to decide how much money Ottawa should contribute to the campaign.

The plan should include a public awareness and educational campaign, money for a national research network and tax breaks and other help for families.

"We feel it is time for the federal government to move on this issue," said Senator Art Eggleton, the committee chairman.

He said there are almost 50,000 children and 150,000 adults with autism in Canada.

"This is simply too many people to ignore."

The report said the families of children with autism especially need help because medicare doesn't pay for the intensive therapy used to treat the problem.

"The behavioural therapy for autism is very expensive but the results can be significant, particularly if the treatment is available at an early age and is intensive," Eggleton said. "This comes, however, with a considerable price tag.

"We must do something to relieve the financial burden which this places on families."

The report said families may end up paying as much as $60,000 a year for therapy. Some lose their houses as they struggle to foot the bills.

The most intensive therapy goes well beyond normal health care to include medical practitioners, psychologists, psychiatrists, speech -language pathologists, occupational therapists and special education providers.

To help with that burden, the report said, autism should be classed as a disability for the purpose of tax breaks and federal aid.

The committee heard testimony from health professionals, researchers, advocacy groups, families and autism sufferers themselves.

Eggleton said the latter group offered "profoundly moving" testimony.

The report says autism is a troubling condition because there are disagreements over how to define it, how to treat it and how prevalent it is.

"This highlights the need for a strong foundation of autism research," said Senator Wilbert Keon, deputy chairman of the committee.

He said there are many questions still to be answered.

"Has there been an increase in the rate of its appearance?" asked . "We're not quite sure whether there's just better diagnosis or an increase in prevalance.

"As well, the cause or more likely the causes, of autism remain unclear. Although we have identified a genetic component, this is clearly not the end of the story. A lot more research is needed."

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