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Toronto, June 10 (Canadian-Media): The launch of new autism program, this week, by Liberal government was expected to run more smoothly than last attempt which had created outrage and protests among thousands of families, media reports said.
Direct involvement of families and advocates, this time, during the process of developing the program and inclusion of many elements families have been urging for 12 years, were the key factors in the expected smooth running of the program, said Ontario Autism Coalition president Bruce McIntosh.
"Twelve years is a hell of a long time to be yelling about something," said McIntosh, CBCNews reports said.
Another positive factor of the new program was the absence of the severity of diagnosis as a limiting factor, enabling availability of intensive services to previously rejected kids anywhere on the spectrum.
Children would begin moving into the new program and intensive therapy will not be limited to children under five, said Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services and Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism, announced regulation of applied behavioural analysis practitioners.
"Ontario's behaviour analysts are optimistic about the impact this commitment can have on the lives of individuals receiving behaviour analytic services," Louis Busch, president of the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis, said in a statement.
The government’s announcement of merging Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) and Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) into a service to tailor the intensity of therapy to a child's individual needs had received a very positive response.
This was in contrast to the government’s announcement, last year, that during the rollout of the program for two years, it would stop funding IBI for kids over four, forcing them to pay $8,000 for private therapy during the transition.
The parents, of hundreds of children, were agitated when they learnt, after waiting two or three years on the IBI wait list, that they were removed from the list in exchange for a small amount of money to cover a few months of therapy.
After assuming his new job, Coteau announced these families would get successive payments of $10,000 for private therapy until the new program was up and running and he moved up the start date for the program to 2017.
Although the newly designed $533-million Ontario Autism Program still does not distinguish between ABA and IBI, but it is reported to be open to all an estimated 40,000 children and youth in Ontario under 18 with a diagnosis anywhere on the autism spectrum.
It was reported that a 1-800 number will provide a single point of contact for information and referral, and each family will have a service co-ordinator and will get a family services plan that will be updated based on need.
The families, through this new program, would also have the option of a direct funding allowing families to either receive funds to pay for private therapy or use government-funded services.
A new review mechanism is also being designed to enable these families to challenge a treatment decision.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)