A new American study has confirmed what every autism family has heard anecdotally: Accidental death by drowning is a significant risk for kids with autism. Researchers at the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University looked at more than 39 million death records over a 16-year period (up to 2014) to determine the relationship between autism and death by injury.
As Canadians, we are proud of our universal health care system, which provides publicly-funded essential doctor and hospital care based on need and not ability to pay. Unfortunately, our health system falls short when it comes to prescription medication.
Our son, Casey, has autism, a neuro-developmental disorder that is often characterized by rigid and repetitive behaviours, difficulty with social communication and uneven intellectual development, among many other challenges. Regular participation in an integrated public school has not always been easy for him.
My husband and I recently received a note home from the school teacher of our eight-year-old son, Casey. She wanted to inform us that Casey had been caught lying about a misdeed, and that this wasn't the first time. Our response? We whooped and high fived. Yes, that's right -- we gave each other a high five. Why?
As Canadians we like to take pride in our publicly funded healthcare system, but the truth is many of us -- especially those with or caring for someone with disabilities or chronic conditions -- pay out of pocket for a wide range of essential health services. Studies show Canadians pay as much as 30 per cent of our health needs privately.
I'm not entirely sure why I write about my personal experiences parenting a child with autism for the mainstream media. Mostly I hope my own experiences may help someone else on their autism journey -- and they won't stumble through, as I have done in the early days. But what I'm never quite prepared for are the letters I get whenever I publish something about autism in the mainstream press. Here are a few responses that never fail to happen.
It's not an exaggeration to say we have an autism services crisis in Canada. Evidence shows that proper health and educational supports for those affected by autism pay off. Early intervention is key and heads off more expensive and extensive supports that are needed later in life if early intervention is not provided.
The Registered Disability Savings Plan is a savings plan that helps parents and caretakers of those with a disability save for their loved one's long-term financial future with some financial contributions coming directly from the government -- free money, in other words. So why are so few using the RDSP?
Think tanks, politicos and pundits regularly weigh in with how to improve Canadian healthcare. Such media coverage is often weighted. And journalists covering the issue often struggle on short timelines to gain enough knowledge to ask the critical questions. But that's about to change.
Many organizations and affected families across the country have been calling for a national autism strategy. The wide range in disparity of publicly funded services for autism across the country has even generated a kind of "medical migration" with several published accounts of families leaving their home provinces (most commonly, Atlantic provinces, Ontario and Quebec) to move to Alberta or British Columbia where autism services are more readily available and/or more flexible. It is also no longer uncommon to find Canadian families using crowdsourcing campaigns to fund their children's autism and related therapies.
For the last 30 years or so, Canadians have repeatedly flagged healthcare as the most important national concern and the issue they want their political leaders to prioritize. Surveys and studies and polls and panels -- there have been plenty -- all come up with the same finding: Canadians care about healthcare.
Kids with autism are also often singular in their attention to the things they love and the things that give them pleasure; this sometimes makes them wholly present and pure receptacles of joy. In my son Casey's case, he dreamt of city buses.
"It is with sadness that we will have to decline the birthday party invitation for your son," one mother wrote me, "as such short notice was given." I felt like I had been punched in the gut. Again. You see, my son Casey has autism, and I had been busily planning all the arrangements for his seventh birthday party for weeks. I wanted to tell her, in earnest, that I had tried, I really tried, to get it right this time.
A case emerged in response to an audit of Cambie Surgeries, a private for-profit corporation by the B.C. Medical Services Commission. The audit found from a sample of Cambie's billing that it (and another private clinic) had charged patients hundreds of thousands of dollars more for health services covered by medicare than is permitted by law. Dr. Day and Cambie Surgeries claim that the law preventing a doctor charging patients more is unconstitutional.
It was an ordinary summer day. People were milling on the main thoroughfare, bikes zig-zagging through traffic, cafés and pubs spilling onto the sidewalk, patrons sipping their way through a lazy Friday afternoon. We were ordinary that day too. Just another family, managing the hectic jumble of kids' lessons, bills, our careers, endless streams of birthday parties, too little sleep and the occasional date night out. But it was all shattered with a single word: autism.
A recent court challenge before the British Columbia Supreme Court threatened to change the rules of the game for the Canadian healthcare system -- should the challenge have made its way to the Supreme Court of Canada and found success there. How our health system should be reformed, and in what measures, is nothing short of a national pastime in Canada. Too bad many get the facts wrong. Here are a few basics everyone should know.
April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day, and April is World Autism Awareness month. Unfortunately, it's no longer uncommon for most of us to know families struggling just to keep up with the day-to-day tasks required of them because they have a child with autism. Here's how you -- as a family member, friend, neighbour or even just as a friendly acquaintance or concerned citizen -- can help families affected by autism.
Contrary to popular belief, most kids with autism are not anti-social. Yet, many 'neurotypicals' still struggle when it comes to including a child with autism in the conversation. Those that do try, often fail because they don't know a few essential rules that can help make the interaction possible.