Lila Berry of Miramichi attended Saturday's meeting and strongly supported the renewal of the autism society."We will lose what we have," she warned. "There will be cutbacks." "That will happen if there is no voice." But once a child with autism leaves school there is little assistance available to families.
"We have to address issues that just haven't been addressed, like the adult care issue," said Doherty.He said there was a case in 2005 in which a 13-year-old child with severe autism had to be placed in a visitor's apartment at the Miramichi Youth Centre, which is a correctional facility, because there was nowhere else to house the young person."We haven't done anything since 2005 since that story made us notorious across Canada," said Doherty. He said New Brunswick spends hundreds of thousands of dollars per person sending young people to a residential autism treatment facility in Maine. That money could be better spent on a residential treatment facility in this province, he said. But he also said he knows it will be a huge challenge to build an autism residential treatment facility during a time of budget restraint."
Dr. Tara Kennedy, the developmental pediatrician with the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation autism team, was present and was asked for her assessment of autism services in New Brunswick. She concluded her assessment with the following rating: Pre-school autism services - 2 thumbs up, School services - 1 thumb up and 1 thumb down, Adult autism services - 2 thumbs down.
Dr. Kennedy's assessment was, in the opinion of this autism dad and advocate, right on the money. We need to work hard to protect our pre-school autism services in difficult financial times. We have to improve our school autism services and we have to begin to build our non-existent adult autism care services.