03/26/2014 11:58 EDT | Updated 05/26/2014 05:59 EDT

Autism treatment needs ignored by politicians, parents say

Some Quebec parents say party leaders should be paying closer attention to the growing need for social services in the province, specifically the lack of support for children with developmental disabilities and their families.

Lynda Kachaami-Martin's son Gabriel was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder two and a half years ago.

She says it's imperative to act as soon as a child is diagnosed, an urgency that seems to be lost on politicians. 

Kachaami-Martin says the wait for her son’s treatment was agony.

“Nothing is available. We hit this wall and it's like ‘I'm sorry you're going to have to wait,’“ she said.

The family was forced to pay thousands of dollars for private therapy until a government-funded spot opened up last month at the West Montreal Readaptation Centre.

The centre works with 2,000 patients, but the wait list is long and growing.

The chair of the board for the West Montreal Readaptation Centre, Gary Whittaker, says the centre receives only 20 per cent of the funding allocated for treatment in the Montreal area, but it services 30 per cent of the total population in need. 

"The government needs to reallocate funds on a more intelligent basis," Whittaker said.

The centre's parents' committee has started to lobby politicians and plead for more funding. 

Parents' committee representative Carole Mercier, says it's hard to stand out from all the other issues at play during an election campaign. 

"[Politicians] think it's important, but there are a lot of other issues out there that are also vying for attention," she said. 

The need for improved health and social services hasn’t gone completely unnoticed during the election campaign.

The Parti Québécois has promised to tackle wait times for diagnosis and treatment.

The Coalition Avenier Québec says it would hire more specialists to work in daycares and help identify children with learning difficulties at an early age.

The Liberal party has not released a comprehensive platform, but Geoff Kelley, candidate for Jacques-Cartier, said his party will increase the overall health budget by four per cent.

For parents like Kachaami-Martin, the need for action only increases as more and more children are diagnosed with development disabilities every day.

"It's something that is growing and they're not prepared to handle it, and it's not going to go away. It's just going to get worse."