It was an eye catching display dedicated to locally produced goods at the Ladies Who Lunch event at the NAC. Several booths in the upper foyer got my attention. Especially the one displaying local eggs. Behind it, sitting on a bale of hay sat a woman watching the crowd of mostly women mill around, chatting while enjoying a beverage.
I glanced at her, then stopped. Something was wrong. I suspected she was holding back tears. When I approached, her face crumpled and she began to cry. This woman needed a hug and I felt compelled to give her one, which she readily accepted. When she was able to compose herself Tanya Corey told me her heartbreaking story.
Tanya says she has been crying ever since the changes to the Ontario Autism program were announced late last month. Starting in May children five and older will no longer be eligible for Intensive Behavioural Intervention, which costs about 50 thousand dollars. Her son Lucas has been on the government wait list since he was diagnosed, in the fall of 2014. The promise of IBI she says was like a beacon of hope for their family. During the months of waiting, Lucas has been receiving partial IBI treatment, at cost of a thousand dollars a month, paid for through fundraising by family and friends. Tanya says it is working. Watch the videos blow. The first shows Lucas - unable to communicate...the second was taken a year after he started therapy.
Lucas parents worry without full time IBI he will never reach his full potential. It's a concern shared by the parents of more than 2 thousand autistic kids in Ontario . The opposition has taken up their cause.
The Wynne Government is standing its ground. Children and Youth Minister Tracy MacCharles maintains new research shows children over five don't benefit from IBI. Families kicked off the wait list will instead receive 8 thousand dollars, which they can use for autism treatment. Families say that's like a slap in the face, and argue that kids over five treatment definately do improve with therapy. And they're prepared to fight.
The Families are urging everyone to support their cause, saying if the government doesn't invest in their kids today - everyone will pay in the future. You will find a link to their petition below. Tanya is urging as many people as possible to print it, sign it and mail it to the government. Isn't it the least we can do? Be part of this story - don't just forget it and move on.