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MFEAT Welcomes Nova Scotia Family Forced to Relocate to Manitoba to Access Pre-School Autism Treatment Program

Posted Aug 23 2008 11:30pm





28 July 2008


MFEAT welcomes to Manitoba Dr. Leif Sigurdson and his wife Dr. Leanne

van Amstel, parents of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and

medical migrants from Nova Scotia. As reported by CTV News last Sunday

the family made the drastic decision to leave their careers in Halifax

to access treatment for their three-year-old son, who was diagnosed

with ASD a year ago. Their son will receive 35 hours of therapy per

week in St. Amant's Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) program. It is

unfortunate the family felt forced to relocate for sake of their

child, but as Manitoba residents they will finally have access to the

treatment their child needs to develop, while the province also gains

two highly specialized medical professionals.

The disruption in the lives of this new Manitoba family is the reality

facing many families caring for a child with ASD across Canada. While

ASD is a serious neurologic condition of unknown cause, decades of

studies have demonstrated that 25-35 hours of ABA per week

significantly improves the cognitive and communicative function of

children receiving it. The American Academy of Pediatrics, in its 2007

Clinical Report on managing ASD has written, "The effectiveness of

ABA-based intervention in ASDs has been well documented through 5

decades of research ... Children who receive early intensive behavioral

treatment have been shown to make substantial, sustained gains in IQ,

language, academic performance ...".

Jamie Rogers, MFEAT's Director of Communications can relate to the

cross-country move made by the family, "When our two boys were

diagnosed with ASD in BC in 2005 we were facing a debt of $80,000 per

year to secure 35 hours of ABA per week. So we decided to move to

Winnipeg to enrol in St Amant's program. We learned of other

out-of-province families in the program who waited tens of months

without services following diagnosis or who were offered nothing at

all. We are grateful to MFEAT for fighting to get the St Amant

Pre-School ABA program in place, which has paid off enormously for our

kids. No parent of a child with another serious medical condition has

to move provinces or go bankrupt to obtain treatments that are proven

effective, so why those with ASD? There is a Senate Standing Committee

Report telling the government that families with an ASD child in this

country are in a crisis that needs a national response, but it

collects dust while our children and families endure major hardships."

Founded in 1997, MFEAT is an advocacy and support group for families

with a child, sibling, or loved one diagnosed with Autism Spectrum

Disorder - a neurological condition that affects 1 in 150 children and

has no known cure. Following years of negotiation with MFEAT, in 2002

Manitoba introduced a permanent pre-school ABA program for Manitoba

families, the only one of its kind in Canada. MFEAT successfully

convinced the Manitoba Government to implement a school-age ABA

program, which was announced in June.

Media enquiries please contact:

Kevin Augustine, President MFEAT: 204-444-4169

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