Owen and Ben's Journey Through Autism

Owen and Ben's Journey Through Autism

Monday, October 1, 2012

Update; not cool Niagara Region, not cool.

I would like to first of all thank the Mayor of Niagara Falls for writing a letter on our families behalf in regards to Resource Teacher Funding for our Co-Op Preschool here in Niagara Falls.

I am going to post the letter that I received this afternoon from the Mayor, and just put in short form what issues I will be discussing when the Commissioner calls me back, hopefully tomorrow.

Here is the letter; I have highlighted my "favourite" parts.

September 27, 2012

via e-mail
Dear Mayor Diodati,

Thank you for your email of September 19, 2012 that you forwarded on behalf of Vanessa Coens. I would like to start by providing a brief overview of the systems that are in place to provide some context. Niagara Region Children’s Services funds a number of agencies to provide Resource Consultant services to licensed child care centres in Niagara, including Niagara Support Services. The system management of these services is coordinated through Children’s Services in consultation with the Inclusive Child Care Supports Committee, which is a collaborative group of service providers who employ Resource Consultants in Niagara.

Through this committee, the development of a Level of Service tool has been developed to ensure that a consistent and equitable approach to the provision of services is applied across Niagara. The Resource Consultant model that is used by all agencies is a consultative model to the child care staff and not a hands-on approach, although many times when a Resource Consultant is in a child care centre, they will assist in the program. The Resource Consultants role in a program is the development of an individual plan which identifies areas of need and a plan to implement and work on developmental outcomes for the child. Additionally, each Resource Consultant agency that works with child care programs has a signed Memorandum of Understanding, which articulates the responsibilities of the
various agencies.

Specific to the situation identified by Ms. Coens, there is a Resource Consultant who is currently servicing Kid’s Kastle Coop. When new children are enrolled in any program, such as is the case with her child, there is a process which is followed by every Resource Consultant which is:

1. Children are given the opportunity to get used to a new situation and environment for a
number of weeks. This is done to determine how they are settling into the program. All
children are screened using a Developmental Screening Tool to determine if there are any
developmental lags. Dependent upon the outcome of the screening a referral is made for
Resource Consultant supports to Children’s Services. Upon receipt of the referral, Children’s Services forwards the referral to the appropriate Resource Consultant agency. Please be advised that Children’s Services only received the referral on September 21, 2012. Since the child has just started at Kid’s Kastle in September, the referral is certainly within the expected time lines of the processes that are used.

2. The number of hours that a child care centre would receive Resource Consultation is based on a score which is determined through the Level of Service Tool. Since the referral has just been forwarded, it can be assumed that the tool will be completed within the next few weeks. In receiving a score using this tool, the score also incorporates administration and travel time of the resource consultant. When children only attend a program for short amounts of time, as is the case with this child, the Level of Service Tool is adjusted since the child is not in attendance full time.

It must be noted that the child is attending a Cooperative Nursery School, where there is one Registered Early Childhood Educator and 2 parent volunteers. In full day child care programs, there would be 2 educators in the group of children. Having a Resource Consultant in attendance at any child care program for the entire time the child is in attendance is not the model that is or has been used throughout the community.

Resource Consultants serve a multitude of child care programs and with the growing number of children who are referred for service, there is an extreme pressure on the system to support the number of referrals and in some communities, children have been placed on waitlists. There have been no funding increases to Resource Consultant agencies for 2 years and through the Inclusive Child Care Supports Committee, realignments of service and the optimal use of all resources has been exhausted.

In closing, since the referral has just been received, please be assured that the referral process is being followed. Children’s Services Manager, Darlene Edgar, who is responsible for systems oversight of services for special needs children and who is Chair of the Inclusive Child Care Supports Committee,

can be contacted at 905-984-6900 ext. 3876 should you or Ms. Coens wish to discuss the situation


BACK. OK I am going to address all my points that piss me off.

1) Ben is not some "fly by night" child, they had no idea was coming and we just made the choice to begin this September. I have been at this school for 2 years, Ben's older AUTISTIC brother Owen was here, and had the SAME resource teacher that Ben has. I had Ben signed up for the Monday/Wednesday/Friday morning group in May of 2012. The Resource Teacher knew he was beginning school and on the days I have specified.

2)I have a letter, written the DAY Benjamin was diagnosed by Dr. Synder. As a normal parent would believe, I thought this would be, "sufficient" as a referral. This letter was given to the Resource teacher in June 2012 as well, here is what the letter stated on June 6, 2012.

To Whom It May Concern:
I have assessed Ben and given him a diagnosis of Autism in the moderately severe range. Please accommodate him accordingly at your facility. He will need as much individual attention as possible.

Yours sincerely, Donna Snyder M.D., F.R.C.P.
Silly me to think this would be enough.

3) Short amount of time in this program. Ben is attending 3 mornings a week, for 2 1/2 hours per morning, with 1 day of Resource Teacher assistance, and not even to himself. The ratio is 1:3 as of right now for the class. Owen attended afternoons at this school, 1:2 ratio, she was there both days a week, as he was only there Tues/Thurs... interesting.

4) The teacher, has 16 children in her class, 3 (kind of 4) with some sort of need, ASD or not. PLUS 12 other children that need to learn, listen, and have time with her as well. There are also 2 Duty Day parents (these are parents of other children, like me) that majority have "typical" children. I REFUSE to make any parent uncomfortable, and feel like they have to monitor, distract or redirect my child. These parents are there to help, not to teach the child with ASD when (in most cases) have no clue. I am not, "that"  parent that will have just anyone teach Ben or Owen, they deserve more than that, and it is NOT fair to the other parents to be put in that position either. Also, they say if Ben has "too much" support, he wont be able to function in the community, are you kidding me? Having SUPPORT NOW would benefit him for JK/SK, teach him NOW how to sit in circle, how to transition, he is friggin 2 1/2 years old! Remember that old saying, "EARLY INTERVENTION IS THE KEY TO OPTIMAL SUCCESS?!?!" This is the time to act on it! Seriously.

5) Then OF COURSE, it has to come down to funding, that in 2 years there have been no funding increases. I am sorry, I understand, I am in the same BOAT where I work, but as a parent, COME ON. Find another excuse. I pay taxes like everybody else, where is my child's support! I am not say8ing my child needs more than others, believe me, but when one day is allotted out of 3! and they try and use every excuse in the book, but then it just comes down to funding and we can rely on the other parents there. Nope, not happening. That is something I will fight tooth and nail for. How about instead of building ANOTHER arena, how about we look at the children with Special Needs that are being left behind?! not only support wise, HEALTHCARE wise. I have friends (INCLUDING MYSELF) who have had to fund raise like shit to get (support, therapy, mini vans for their children in wheelchairs, at home care etc) This is horrible! What happens to parents who just think this is all there is?!

So, next update will be what I hear back, I left a message on her voicemail today. You want to wake the bear? You seriously want to see some advocacy at it's best? This is what it is. When you are so hurt, and so angry all in one, you would do ANYTHING to make it better. You would email the Mayor and our MPP without hesitation, you would take on the Niagara Region when it gets in your way, this is for my CHILD. Just like Owen with the DSBN, there is always a way to get your voice heard, and you will NOT take what they tell you is the final say. When it comes to my children, I will leap mountains for them and their safety, their education, and to give THEM a fighting chance when the world says no.

I am not happy, but man do I love those 3 kids right now asleep in their beds.

-Momma Bear

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