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Parents look for options to pay for autism therapy as Ford changes funding plan

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Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa


Published Thursday, February 21, 2019 5:04PM EST


Last Updated Thursday, February 21, 2019 5:06PM EST

Parents of children with autism say they’re considering their options as the date for funding changes fast approaches.  Some say they will refinance their houses in order to continue therapy for their kids.  One Ottawa father says he will decide between leaving the country and going on social assistance.  Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod was also talking options, suggesting to CTV News in an interview that parents could use government funding to buy technological devices such as an iPad to help their kids.  Today, Ottawa parents kept up their fight, protesting outside the office of the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, Merrilee Fullerton.

He listens well but 5-year-old Hassan El-Sarji isn’t able to respond.  Hassan is non-verbal but his father says 25 hours a week of intensive therapy, at $55 an hour, has helped tremendously.

“He’s come a long way,” says Ali El-Sarji, “He used to bite, scratch, hit every child in sight. He was uncontrollable.”

Hassan, who turns 6 in March, was diagnosed with autism when he was 2.  He started intensive behavioral intervention therapy, or IBI about eighteen months ago through a therapist based at CHEO.  But El-Sarji says his son’s therapist called recently to inform him that Hassan’s therapy plan ends April 22nd.  And El-Sarji has no idea how his son will fare under the Ford government’s new plan with just $5000 a year.

“I’m extremely worried,” he says, “I’ve thought about plan A,B,C,D and E; plans as extreme as selling my home and going abroad to find different services for him.”

They are options being considered by many parents as the funding options change and they face crippling debt to continue with the therapy they consider a life-line.

Christine Clayton’s 7-year-old son Miles has been receiving full therapy and says it has transformed their little boy.

“He couldn’t hold a pencil, couldn’t run, was still in diapers,” she says, describing life before therapy, “Now he’s potty-trained, he’s eating independently.  He tells me he loves me.  What parent doesn’t want that for their kids?”

She says her family is also considering their options, believing that their funding will be cut entirely, “There are options,” she says, “moving provinces, moving countries.  We don’t know.  We spent all Family Day in anxiety trying to figure it out.”

Stephanie Brousseau has a 4-year-old son in private therapy.  They are paying about $60,000 a year while they wait for Charles to be off the waitlist; he is currently about number 800.  Still, she adds, “I’d sooner wait another 2 or 3 years than have this thrown at me and have no help. I’m really hoping we’re able to get this changed.”

But today Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod put that notion to rest.

“We’ve made a decision,” she told reporters at Queen’s Park today, “the decision stands.”

And earlier in the Question Period, MacLeod was reacting to a CTV interview where she suggested how parents could spend government money to help their kids.

“Last night on CTV News,” Andrea Horwath, the Leader of the Official Opposition asked, “the Minister responded by suggesting they could use the woefully inadequate government support to buy an iPad. Is that the Ford government’s idea of a treatment plan?  An iPad?

“Our plan is built on choice,” replied Minister Lisa MacLeod, “and if parents think that a technological aid will help advance their child, then I want to support them in doing that.”

Ali El-Sarji says his choices appear slim:  either sell his house or go on social assistance.  What he won’t do, he says, is cut his son’s therapy.

“He deserves a fighting chance.  He doesn’t deserve to be cut off,” he says

Also today, the NDP introduced a private members’ bill to ensure continuous support for children with developmental disabilities, including autism after they turn 18.

More protests are planned in coming days by parents. They are back at Minister Lisa MacLeod’s office Friday and plan a bigger show on Saturday.

 

 

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Ottawa Book Expo 2020 – Authors, Publishers look forward to a top-notch Canadian book fair

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Diversity has always been a complex issue, no matter where you look.Case in point, world-famous writer, Stephen King, has recently come under criticism for his views on diversity. The best-selling author had stated, “I would never consider diversity in matters of art, only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.” Many criticized the novelist as being out of touch and “ignorant,” but one cannot deny that King’s opinions on diversity, mirror the thoughts of a whole lot of people in the creative industry.

The Toronto Book Expo is coming back in 2020, with a multi-cultural concept that aims to include marginalized authors.  The Expo intends to celebrate literary works of diverse cultural backgrounds, and the entire literary community in Canada is expectant. Book-lovers and writers alike, are invited to three days of uninhibited literary celebration where diverse cultural works will be prioritized. At the event, authors will be allowed to share their culture with a broad audience. The audience will be there specifically to purchase multi-cultural works.

Multicultural literary expos do not come every day. In Canada, there is a noticeable lack of literary events celebrating other cultures. This leads to a significantly lower amount of cultural diversity in the industry. The Toronto Book Expo would aim at giving more recognition to these marginalized voices. Understandably, more recognizable work will be prioritized.

The Toronto Book Expo is making a statement that diversity is needed in the literary community. The statement is truly motivating, especially if you consider the fact that this could mean more culturally diverse works of literature.

There is a lot of noticeable cultural ignorance in literature. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and books are one of the best means of improving multi-cultural diversity in literature. The Toronto Book Expo is going to fully utilize books to fight ignorance in the literary industry.

Real progress cannot be made if there is a substantial amount of ignorant people in the industry. In spite of advancements made in education in recent years, there is still a considerable percentage of adults who remain unable to read and write.The Toronto Book Expo aims to bring awareness to social literacy issues such as illiteracy.

It is important to uphold high literacy levels in the community and to support those who are uneducated. A thriving society cannot be achieved if the community is not able to read their civil liberties and write down their grievances.

The major foundation of a working and dynamic society is entrenched in literature. Literature offers us an understandingof the changes being made to our community.

The event would go on for three days at three different venues. Day 1 would hold at the York University Student & Convention Centre at 15 Library Lane on March 19. Day 2 would be held at the Bram and BlumaAppel Salon Facility on the second floor of the main Toronto Reference Library near Yonge and Bloor Streets in downtown Toronto on March 21 and day 3 of the expo would take place at the internationally famous Roy Thomson Hall.

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A Week In Ottawa, ON, On A $75,300 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.Attention, Canadians! We’re featuring Money Diaries from across Canada on a regular basis, and we want to hear from you. Submit your Money Diary here.Today: a biologist working in government who makes $75,300 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bathing suit. Occupation: Biologist
Industry: Government
Age: 27
Location: Ottawa, ON
Salary: $75,300
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $1,930
Gender Identity: Woman

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Ottawa doctor pens nursery rhyme to teach proper handwashing

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An Ottawa doctor has turned to song to teach kids — and adults, for that matter — how to wash their hands to prevent the spread of germs.

Dr. Nisha Thampi, an infectious disease physician at CHEO, the area’s children’s hospital, created a video set to the tune of Frère Jacques and featuring the six-step handwashing method recommended by the World Health Organization.

Thampi’s 25-second rendition, which was co-authored by her daughter and Dr. Yves Longtin, an infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, is featured in the December issue of The BMJ, or British Medical Journal. 

Thampi said as an infectious disease physician and a mother of two, she thinks a lot about germs at home and school.

“I was trying to find a fun way to remember the stuff,” she said. “There are six steps that have been codified by the World Health Organization, but they’re complex and hard to remember.” 

Thampi said she came up with the idea to rewrite the lyrics to the nursery rhyme on World Hand Hygiene Day in May, when she was thinking about how to help people remember the technique. 

She said studies have shown that handwashing is effective in reducing the risk of diarrhea-related illnesses and respiratory diseases. 

“So I’d say it’s one of the most important and easiest things we can do.”

The video includes such often-overlooked steps as “wash the back,” “twirl the tips around” and “thumb attack,” which pays special attention to the first digit.

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