ASAT Responds to Canadian CBC's "N.B. Can Be a Leader in Autism Services
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I read with great interest your recent article about the state of services in New Brunswick (“N.B. Can Be a Leader in Autism Services," September 14, 2010). I do beg to differ about the title of the piece. New Brunswick is already a leader. To have amassed 800 trained agents of change in six years is nothing short of incredible and inspiring, particularly given the diversity of your province with respect to geography and language. Other Canadian provinces can look to New Brunswick for an exemplary model of how things could and should be for children with autism and their families.
There is a misconception that services in the United States are superior to that of our neighbors to the north. I can assure you that children with autism in rural areas and in economically depressed areas of the U.S. do not always access state of the art, science-based treatment such as those based on applied behavior analysis. In many cases throughout the US, children with autism receive poor quality behavior analytic services that may be lessened if providers were able to access more intensive training and networking opportunities similar to what is being offered in your province. Part of the Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT)'s mission is to help close that gap through information dissemination, and we are keenly interested in the efforts of leaders like yourself developing, implementing, and evaluating systems.
And like other true leaders, you have looked critically at your accomplishments with an eye toward making every year of service delivery better than the previous year. We applaud your recognition that treatment parameters such as intensity need to be tailored to each child to maximize gains. When resources are scarce, this individualization can be an arduous task, but nonetheless critically important. Equally important is the need to communicate to government officials, tax payers and other stakeholders that immense financial savings are attached to doing right by our children when they are young.
It is unfortunate that funding for parent training is not more abundant. Optimal outcomes for children with autism are predicated on the support of educated, informed and skillful parents. Promoting carryover, ensuring consistency, and enhancing skill development across all environments are crucial roles for parents, but parents require support and training to assume these crucial roles. Your stated concerns and insights about the dearth of services for adults are much appreciated, and reflect the challenges that we have here in the U.S as well.
Families of children with autism in New Brunswick are blessed. Keep fighting the good fight.
David Celiberti, Ph.D., BCBA-D, President
Association for Science in Autism Treatment
Although much work remains to be done here in New Brunswick much has been accomplished. There are many reasons why this small relatively poor province has achieved some good results. A strong parent advocacy movement has been critically important along with the involvement of well informed, conscientious professionals. At the end of the day though programs have been put in place by government and therein is one of the important elements in New Brunswick's autism success to date. Our provincial autism strategy has been a non-partisan effort with both governing parties contributing significantly.
New Brunswick's dominant political parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, have both been actively involved in improving autism services. Many of our autism services began during the Conservative government of Premier Bernard Lord. They were improved upon during the Liberal government of Premier Shawn Graham. Autism in New Brunswick was taken seriously by both of our governing parties over the last 10 years.
Federally however only the NDP and the Liberal party have shown an inclination to move toward a REAL National Autism Strategy. The sovereignist Bloc Quebecois will not accept any federal role in setting national health care priorities. They are joined by the Conservatives, currently our governing party, who are fundamentally opposed to our national medicare system. I wish it were not so but the ideological opposition of the Harper Conservatives towards our national health care system leaves absolutely no room for a REAL National Autism Strategy.