Friday, 5 December 2014

Cracks In the System and Waitlists

I came across this article yesterday about an autistic boy in Gloucester who is somehow considered "high functioning" enough not to qualify for help within the school board but still needs assistance.  His parents have been told he doesn't qualify for the autism class within his school and is only being permitted to go to school part time because of behaviour issues.

What really caught my attention was the statements from the school board at the end of the article:

"Is there a waiting list at any school?

As a result of our move to a geographic model for autism classes, there are currently no children on the waitlist for ASD. There are no children on the waitlist for DD classes."

That statement is, I suspect, the reason why this boy is not receiving help.  A few years ago, there was much ado about waitlists and the government and other organizations promised to eliminate waitlists.

Unfortunately the strategy seems to be to deny people entry into the waitlist rather than expand services to meet the need.  I've heard of several families being discouraged from going on the waitlist for services with OCTC, even though that denies them access to different services which require them to be on the waitlist.  The school board seems to be taking a similar approach, insisting that children don't need special help, it's just a matter of discipline from the parents and teachers.

For the record, I think the teachers in the school board do amazing work.  They struggle among so many handicaps and regulations to find ways to help their students.  The problem is with the board and with managing perceptions.  They want to be seen as proactive and supportive but don't want to allocate more resources or risk being accused of favoritism.  So they refine the problem to make it seem better than it is.

Rather like saying that we don't have a homeless population, instead we have a community of "outdoor enthusiasts". 

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