Thursday, October 4, 2007

Autism Weekly News Articles September 30-October 4th 2007

The AFA will endeavour to post weekly..

Enjoy!


October
Is
Autism Awareness Month
Autism News Articles
September 30th–October 4th 2007


Visit
www.allianceforfamilieswithautism.blogspot.com

for vigil pictures updated regularly.

Reminder
September, the autism community lost a lovely person who was
instrumental in increasing awareness in her community. This individual
was only 28 years old and leaves behind her pride and joy, a 5 year old
son who has autism. She will be missed by many and thought of often.

A trust fund has been set up to help care for her son and we would like to
contribute. So, in addition to the portion that we donate to an autism
charity, we will also donate 10% of all sales from the month of October to
the trust fund.

Please feel free to pass this message on in your community.
Thank you for your support.

Andrew & Cynthia
www.autismawareness.ca
We love someone with autism too.
Together, we can increase awareness!


The Sudbury Star – October 2nd 2007
Autism awareness focus of vigil; Candlelight event kicks off month dedicated to ailment


Posted By Rachel Punch
Posted 1 day ago
Stephanie Dye planned to organize a candlelight vigil to raise awareness about autism in Espanola, an event held at 28 locations across the province Monday.
Instead, those at the Sudbury vigil were lighting a candle in her memory.
The 28-year-old died Sept. 9 after a blood clot travelled from her leg into a main artery, causing a large embolism.
Now, her five-year-old son Miles, who suffers from autism, is living with his grandmother in Espanola.
Dye's father and stepmother, Peter Dye and Maud Burton-Dye, joined about 20 people who lit candles during the vigil held outside Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci's office on Elm Street.
"I feel very honoured," Peter said, adding he was thankful for the support from the members of the autism community.
Peter said he was taken aback when he found out how much his daughter had been involved in raising awareness about the disability.
The second annual candlelight vigil hosted by the Alliance for Families with Autism was to kick off Autism Awareness Month, said local organizer Trish Kitching.
"Today is a bit more special because the autism community lost a mother. We're lighting a special candle for her," Kitching said.
While the vigil was held about a week before the provincial election, it was not meant to be political, Kitching said.
It is instead an opportunity to honour all individuals and families living with autism and related disorders.
"We're hoping that the community at large will become more sensitive to the disability and be kinder, especially children in schools. There is a lot of bullying," Kitching said.
Kitching has three children with autism: Veronica, 10, Liam, 8, and Morgan, 5.
"It took a long time for me to, first of all, digest the fact that my children had autism," Kitching said. "Then, I went through the grieving process with the diagnosis. Then, I became empowered when I started to do more research about it and what services were available."
According to Autism Ontario, Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It is the result of a neurological disorder that affects brain function.
It impacts the development of the brain in areas of social interaction and communication skills.
Kitching said the one of the biggest challenges is keeping the home running smoothly.
Changing a small part of the routine can throw behaviour for a loop. "It takes a lot of organization," Kitching said.
Another challenge is finding help.
"Parents of children with autism have a really tough time recruiting and retaining respite workers," Kitching said.
Parents are also fighting for greater access to Intensive Behavioural Intervention. About 1,000 children are on the waiting list in Ontario for the treatment.
For more information about autism, visit www.autismontario.com.
rpunch@thesudburystar.com
The Facts
Here are some of the difficulties those with autism may have:
difficulty communicating with others and relating to the outside world;
aggressive and/or self-injurious behaviour;
repeated body movements, unusual responses to people, attachments to objects and resistance to changes in routines;
sensitivities in sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.
Source: Autism Ontario




http://www.intelligencer.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=716639&auth=Henry+Bury
Parents create awareness for autism
Posted By Henry Bury
Posted 1 day ago | Updated 1 day ago
Andrea Quinn's five-year-old son has autism.
Yet, the Trenton mom said she feels extremely lucky because Jake received help within a few months of being diagnosed with the condition.
He's now attending junior kindergarten and does not require special assistance.
"He will have autism his whole life. But we consider Jake recovered from autism. He's now undistinguishable from his peers," said the 40-year-old mother.
Quinn founded and runs the Quinte Autism Parenting Network.
Monday night, she led a half dozen supporters on a half-hour candlelight vigil in front of the North Front Street campaign headquarters for local Liberal candidate Leona Dombrowsky.
The event was to celebrate October as Autism Awareness Month and bring public awareness to the obstacles facing autistic children. There are more than 20,000 people affected by autism in Ontario.
Early diagnosis of autism and treatment are crucial for these children, Quinn said.
In Quinn's case, Jake was 30 months old when he started the Intensive Behavioural Intervention program provided by Counselling Services of Belleville and District.
"He did it for 14 months and he did achieve his goals. He went as far as the program could take him and the result was that he was able to enter junior kindergarten on time," she said.
Quinn said the Ontario government is on the right track by increasing respite services, including the intensive behavioural intervention program.
However, she said more program therapists are needed to deal with the backlog of cases.
"The only problem is that in the Quinte area, we are facing approximately an 18 month wait period for the behaviour program. We could use more positions because every single day counts for these children," she said.
Verna McLellan, past president of the Autism Society of Ontario, has a 35-year-old autistic son.
"The government can certainly do more for autism, both children and adults," said the 66-year-old Belleville resident.
"There are no programs for adults," she said. "When our kids are ready to leave home, there is no supportive housing in Belleville for autistic adults."
She said the government should also provide more funding so that trained educational assistants can work with autistic children in the classrooms.
"The government should listen to parents and establish open communication so that together we can meet the needs of our children," said McLellan.

http://www.metronews.ca/story_local.aspx?id=80252&searchtype=1&fragment=False

Published October 2, 2007
Candles lit for autism


TIM WIECLAWSKI/METRO OTTAWA
Jocelyne Fabisiak, centre, attended the candlelight vigil organized by the Alliance for Families with Autism last night on Carling Avenue with Keelan Smith and her son Simon, left. Both boys are autistic. With an election looming, parents of autistic children are looking to political parties to assist with treatment of growing rates of child autism in Ontario.

A provincial election is a good time to shine light on an issue.

Parents of autistic children in Ottawa last night shed soft-glowing candlelight during a vigil outside of a provincial politician’s office, to illuminate the need for better support and treatment of rising child autism rates.

“We’d much rather be in a park where the kids can run around and interact socially with each other,” said Hazel Smith, whose son Keelan is autistic. “But we’re forced to do this out here so we could get more attention.”

The group held the vigil in front of Health Promotion Minister Jim Watson’s office on Carling Avenue. Smith said her family spends around $20,000 a year for needed behavioural therapy and supplements for her child.

“Every penny we have is spent getting him the treatment he needs,” she said.

Bonita Miedema, one of the organizers of the annual Alliance of Families with Autism vigil, said she hoped people become more aware of the disorder.

“We’re trying to make people aware that there are many phases to autism,” she said.
Tim Wieclawski/Metro Ottawa
And From Elliot Lake:








From a listmate
Newswatch Regional News

Autism Group
Oct, 02 2007 - 10:10 PM

IT'S A COMPLEX DISORDER CAUSED BY AN ABNORMALITY IN THE BRAIN.
IT'S CALLED AUTISM, AND IT AFFECTS MORE THAN 20 THOUSAND PEOPLE IN ONTARIO.
OCTOBER IS AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH.
NEWSWATCH'S ASHLEY MOLNAR HAS MORE ON WHAT ONE TRENTON WOMAN IS DOING -- TO EDUCATE OTHERS ABOUT THE CONDITION. WHEN FIVE YEAR OLD JAKE QUINN WAS BORN HIS MOTHER, ANDREA SAYS SHE NEW RIGHT AWAY THAT HE WAS DIFFERENT THAN OTHER CHILDREN.

ANDREA QUINN MOTHER/ FOUNDER QUINTE AUTISM PARENTING NETWORK:
"HE WOULD NOT EAT HE WOULD NOT SLEEP. I HAD TO NURSE HIM HOLDING HIM ON A PILLOW. HE DIDN'T WANT TO BE PUT DOWN, BUT HE DIDN'T WANT TO BE TOUCHED. BY THE TIME HE WAS 14 MONTHS OLD, THIS IS WHEN I NEW HE HAD AUTISM."

QUINN SAYS IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT TO GET A DOCTOR'S DIAGNOSES.

QUINN:
" EACH TIME I WAS TOLD, JUST GIVE IT A BIT LONGER, JUST WAIT, YOU'RE A FIRST TIME MOM DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT. YOU'RE JUST OVER ANXIOUS."

QUINN SAYS THIS CONTINUED FOR SIX MONTHS, AND THAN FINALLY SOME LIGHT SHONE THROUGH THE TUNNEL. HE WAS FINALLY DIAGNOSED WITH AUTISM. BUT THE STRUGGLE TO FIND TREATMENT WAS JUST BEGINNING.
QUINN:
" I HAD TO FIND EVERYTHING ON MY OWN. JAKE NEEDED OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY. HE NEEDED SPEECH AND LANGUAGE THERAPY. THERE WAS APPLICATIONS FOR ASSISTANCE FOR CHILDREN WITH SEVER DISABILITIES, SPECIAL SERVICES AT HOME. EVERYBODY HAS AN ACRONYM IT WAS SO COMPLICATED AND SO CONFUSING.

QUINN WANTED TO LEARN ALL SHE COULD ABOUT AUTISM.
SHE PUT HER SELF THROUGH COLLEGE TO BECOME DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICE WORKER, SO SHE COULD DO SOMETHING TO HELP OTHER PARENTS WHO ARE GOING THROUGH THE SAME CHALLENGES.

GAIL MASON, RESOURCE COUNCILLOR, FAMILY SPACE:
"THERE HAD BEEN OTHER ATTEMPTS TO START AUTISM NETWORK OR COMMITTEES SUPPORT GROUPS, AND THEY HADN'T WORKED."

GAIL MASON, A RESOURCE CONSULTANT WITH THE FAMILY SPACE EARLY YEARS CENTRE SAYS, WHEN QUINN BROUGHT FORWARD THE IDEA FOR THE "QUINTE AUTISM PARENTING NETWORK" THE CENTRE JUMPED AT THE CHANCE.

MASON:
"WE HAVE THE ACCESS TO THE PROFESSIONALS TO COME AND TALK TO THE FAMILIES. AND IT'S INFORMATION THAT'S VALUABLE TO FAMILIES THAT ARE STARTING OUT ON THIS ROAD CALLED AUTISM."

QUINN:
" IT GIVES THESE PARENTS HOPE. I CAN FIGHT JUST A LITTLE BIT LONGER, I CAN JUST TAKE A LITTLE BIT MORE. BECAUSE, NOTHING IS EASY WITH AUTISM. EVERY SINGLE THING IS HARD."
NOW FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE COMMUNITY, PARENTS WITH AUTISTIC CHILDREN HAVE A ONE STOP RESOURCE CENTRE, WHERE THEY CAN INTERACT WITH OTHERS, WHILE LEARNING ABOUT THEIR CHILD'S DISORDER, AND FIND WAYS TO ADAPT.
(STAND UP:
"QUINN SAYS THE FACE OF AUTISM IS ALWAYS CHANGING. SHE HOPES THE PARENTING NETWORK WILL HELP OTHERS FIND THEIR LIGHT THROUGH THE DARK TUNNEL OF AUTISM. ASHLEY MOLNAR CKWS NEWSWATCH. BELLEVILLE.")



Http://www.ckwstv.com/news/news_local.cfm?Cat=7428545912&rem=76066&red=80154523apbiny&wids=410&gi=1&gm=news_local.cfm

Shining a Light on Autism
Author: Laurie Watt
Date: Oct 02, 2007
Their fight has made it onto Ontario’s provincial election radar – and parents of children with autism lit candles Monday night to remind themselves to be vigilant in the fight to equip their children to shine.
Gathered outside MPP Joe Tascona’s downtown Barrie constituency office, the group included parents, siblings, friends and neighbours of families affected by autism, a complex neurological disorder that affects language, behaviour and social skills. Its incidence continues to rise, with one in every 150 children affected; a decade ago, incidence was pegged at one in 1,000.
“Every individual with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder has the right to shine,” said Tanya Stephenson, whose five-year-old son, Tyler, has autism.
“Each of you is making a difference. We are beginning to be seen. We’re being heard and we’re making sure those we love with autism will be seen and heard.”
Joining in the sunset vigil was Lynne Watt, a neighbour and friend of the DeCarlo family. Cindy and Sergio DeCarlo have a son, Mitchell, who has autism.
“There’s a gap that needs to be filled for care and services for these children,” said Watt.
“With the efforts of the DeCarlos, change has happened.”
On the provincial campaign trail, and even locally, candidates have sparred over the treatment of how both the Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments have treated children with autism. For years, access to an intensive behaviour program was limited to children ages six and under.
After court challenges, the government finally opened access to the therapy – which costs about $50,000 per year per child – to those over age six.
The specialized therapy has been shown to assist children with autism learn to talk and to gain social skills, regardless of their chronological age. The success of therapy most often relates to mental age, and many children with Autism Spectrum Disorders have mental
ages lower than six years, although they may be chronologically older.
http://www.simcoe.com/article/48887#wrapperHeaderRatingsComments
visit the website to click on the video
October 2, 2007 KINGSTON WHIG-STANDARD (ON) PAGE: 1 (FRONT)
candlelit crusade

PHOTO: Michael Lea/The Whig-Standard
ILLUS: Kristen French holds the hand of her autistic son Austen, six, during a candlelight rally outside MPP John Gerretsen's constituency office on Bagot Street last night, one of dozens held across the province by the Alliance For Families With Autism to call for more government support for autistic children. Gerretsen, Tory candidate Dr. John Rapin and NDP candidate Rick Downes were present to listen to the concerns of parents with autistic children. About 30 people stood on the steps of the La Salle Mews for half an hour holding candles and glow sticks in hope of sharing their message.


Post event article: Vigils planned at MPPs' offices to raise awareness of autism
Posting for archiving purposes..

WATERLOO REGION
October is autism awareness month and some local families will be marking it on Monday night by holding candlelight vigils in front of MPPs' offices.
John McVicar of Kitchener, a founding member of the Alliance for Families with Autism, is co-ordinating about 25 vigils around the province, including at the constituency offices of Kitchener Centre MPP John Milloy and Kitchener-Waterloo MPP Elizabeth Witmer.
McVicar also has tentative plans for a vigil at the office of Cambridge MPP Gerry Martiniuk.
The vigils will be "simply a quiet time for families who have children with autism to come together and reflect on the lives of their children," McVicar said. "It's not a rally, it's not a protest, it's a simple vigil."
Though the group is non-partisan, there are messages it wants to get across.
One is simply an awareness of autism, the incidence of which is on the rise, McVicar said. According to the Toronto-based Geneva Centre for Autism, one in 165 children has a form of it -- a sixfold increase in 10 years.
The candles symbolize that "individuals with autism should be given the opportunity to shine," said Pat LaLonde, another founding member of the alliance.
Children with autism still need more services, including eventually providing intensive behavioural intervention therapy in schools, LaLonde said. As an interim step, she'd like to see school boards allow therapists they don't necessarily employ into schools.
No matter who wins the Oct. 10 election, LaLonde said, her group will be asking for a "hand up so our kids and adults can contribute to society."
Monday's vigils start at 7 p.m. Milloy's office is at 1770 King St. E. No. 6C, Kitchener. Witmer's is at 375 University Ave. E., Waterloo. For more information, contact autismafa@yahoo.ca
Plight of autistic children resonates in campaign
KAREN HOWLETT
October 1, 2007
TORONTO -- When Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty wrote a letter in September of 2003 to Nancy Morrison, the mother of an autistic son, he had no way of knowing it would come back to haunt him four years later.
Ms. Morrison had asked all three political leaders during the 2003 election campaign for their party's position on funding the cost of therapy after autistic children reach age 6. She told the leaders she would e-mail their responses far and wide.
Mr. McGuinty promised in the letter to end the previous Progressive Conservative government's "unfair and discriminatory" practice of cutting off funding when children turned 6. "These children need - and deserve - our help and support," the letter says.
The problem for Mr. McGuinty is that Ms. Morrison kept her end of the bargain and he didn't.
It was not until two years after he was in office - when the courts ruled in July of 2005 that the province was violating the children's constitutional rights by denying them treatment - that Mr. McGuinty lived up to his promise.
He has the politically savvy activist to thank for the fact that his letter found its way to families as far away as Europe, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand, thrusting services for autistic children into the spotlight in the current election campaign. The topic has been embraced by both the New Democrats and the Progressive Conservatives.
The rising incidence of autism alone does not explain why the issue has been front and centre - the disease affects one in 165 children. It's also because the campaign has revolved around two issues - Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory's contentious plan to fund faith-based schools and Mr. McGuinty's broken promises. The one involving autism was considered so egregious because it involved vulnerable children.
"A lot of people in our community changed their vote to Liberal because of those promises," said Ms. Morrison, the New Democrat candidate in the riding of York-Simcoe. "This was one of his biggest broken promises."
Mary Anne Chambers, who served as the Liberal Minister of Children and Youth Services, said her party more than tripled annual spending on autism services to $140-million, doubled the number of children receiving intensive behavioural intervention therapy and dramatically reduced the waiting list for assessing children. There are 900 children on the waiting list.
The IBI therapy, a system of behaviour modification to teach autistic children language skills and how to play appropriately, costs an average of $70,000 a year for each child.
But even Ms. Chambers conceded that autism has generated more than its share of interest in the current campaign.
"It's a little bit of an interesting one, to say the least," she said in an interview. "It's one of those things that has a very political character to it."
Mr. McGuinty's letter has been quoted repeatedly by Ms. Morrison and other parents at rallies and at the provincial legislature, who have reminded politicians repeatedly of the emotional and financial toll autism takes on families.
Ms. Morrison said she and her husband have nearly gone broke refinancing their home in Bradford, Ont., to pay for treatment for their eight-year-old son, Sean, who spends mornings at home with his IBI therapist and afternoons in a Grade 4 classroom.
Sean is of average to above-average intelligence, Ms. Morrison said. "We just need to work at getting it out of him."

The Politics of Autism
Better access to therapy for autistic children has become an election issue in Ontario. Parents are angry and active. But not everyone agrees on the best approach

Roger Collier
The Ottawa Citizen

CREDIT: Bruno Schlumberger, the Ottawa Citizen
'There was a lot of tears. It was like a death in the family.' Robert Shalka on his son Philip's autism diagnosis

Saturday, September 29, 2007


CREDIT: Photos by Bruno Schlumberger, the Ottawa Citizen
Philip Shalka, 7, is one of an estimated 18,000 Ontario children who have been diagnosed with autism.



CREDIT: Bruno Schlumberger, Ottawa Citizen
Robert Shalka, right front, and Lena Gudyrenko, right back, with their children Roberta, left, Philip, centre, and their son's lead therapist, Katherine McConnell, centre back. Since Philip was discharged from a provincially funded program, the family has been paying for his autism therapy.


He was the son they had been waiting for. Robert Shalka and Lena Gudyrenko already had a daughter, Roberta, and now here was Philip -- blue-eyed, dark-haired, a beautiful boy. When 18-month-old Roberta first saw her baby brother, she called him "lial'ka," a Ukrainian word she had learned from her mother. It means doll.
"We had a million-dollar family," says Shalka.
Philip was a quiet baby. At a year old, he showed little interest in toys and didn't respond when his parents said his name. He pushed away hugs. Months later, Roberta asked her parents why Philip didn't talk.
In October 2002, three months after Philip's second birthday, a neurologist diagnosed him with autism. The news blindsided his parents. When the shock faded, says Shalka, the grieving began.
"There were a lot of tears. It was like a death in the family."
Philip is one of about 18,000 autistic children in Ontario. Many parents feel the province is doing too little to improve access to a popular autism therapy called intensive behaviour intervention, or IBI. They're angry. And active. They've taken their pleas to the Internet, to the media and, on more than one occasion, to Ontario's streets. And autism has become an issue in the ongoing Ontario election campaign, with politicans trying to buy votes with offers of more money for treatment.
This isn't the first time the worlds of autism and politics have overlapped in Canada. In 1998, four families sued the British Columbia government, arguing that autism was a medical condition and the expense of treating it therefore fell to the province. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled in favour of the B.C. government in 2004.
Several Ontario families affected by autism recently launched a similar challenge, which came to a similar end: defeat. The loss inflamed an already hot situation -- just in time for the provincial election. The leaders of Ontario's Progressive Conservative and NDP parties haven't failed to take advantage.
Conservative leader John Tory has reminded voters, again and again, that the list of children waiting for autism services has grown at least 10-fold since the Liberals took office. Premier Dalton McGuinty, he says, has failed the autism community. If elected, Tory says he would commit an additional $75 million a year toward autism therapies and clear the waiting list.
Howard Hampton, leader of Ontario's NDP party, has promised that an NDP government would invest an additional $100 million to help autistic children. The new funding would be used to improve access to therapies, provide respite care and fund autism research.
So, which platform appeals most to those involved in the fight to improve Ontario's autism services? The answer, quite possibly, is neither.
"It's not about party platforms. It's more about a leader that we can trust, a leader with integrity who will implement what he promises," says Sam Yassine, an Ottawa father of an autistic child and member of the Ontario Autism Coalition. "Maybe John Tory or Howard Hampton will lie to us. But for sure, there is no doubt that Dalton McGuinty will lie again."
To understand why Yassine, and many other parents of autistic children, hold McGuinty in such low regard, one must look back four years, to the day when the soon-to-be premier wrote a letter that quickly came back to haunt him.
During the last provincial election campaign, in September 2003, McGuinty sent a letter to Nancy Morrison, the mother of an autistic child from Bradford, Ont. In the letter, he criticized the then-ruling Conservative party for only providing IBI funding for children between the ages of two and five. He called the policy unfair and discriminatory.
"The Ontario Liberals support extending autism treatment beyond the age of six," wrote McGuinty.
In April 2005, an Ontario court decided that refusing IBI for children based on age was, indeed, discriminatory. Ontario Superior Court Judge Frances Kiteley ordered the province to pay for therapy for all autistic school children. McGuinty, now premier, balked at the ruling.
Within days, the Liberal party launched an appeal. The government should decide how expensive therapies are funded, McGuinty said, not the courts. Some parents of autistic children were baffled, and outraged, by the premier's decision.
On July 7, 2006, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the government. Mary Anne Chambers, Ontario's minister of Children and Youth Services, was quick to assure parents of autistic children that the government, while now in control of funding decisions, had no intention of refusing therapy based on age.
But the parents who supported the original ruling claimed McGuinty had betrayed them. They held protests throughout the province and appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. This spring, however, the Supreme Court announced it would not consider the appeal.
Despite the court battle, and the ugly publicity it spawned, McGuinty insists he has done much to help the autistic community. The Liberals have overseen the creation of an IBI graduate course at Brock University, the only one of its kind in the province. They have also designated $140 million for autism services for 2007-08, more than triple the $44 million spent in 2003-04.
Ontario's autistic children are better off today, the premier says, than they were when he was elected. Yassine would beg to differ.
Yassine's seven-year-old son, Amjad, began government-funded IBI therapy three years ago. (IBI is based on the principles of applied behaviour analysis, or ABA, which is a process of observing and modifying behaviour.) The results, Yassine says, were amazing.
Amjad starting communicating, using a mix of short sentences and sign language. He interacted with his sister. When another child wanted to play with his cherished toy trains, Amjad no longer threw a tantrum.
After turning six, though, Amjad was discharged from the province's autism intervention program. Some children lose their funding because they fail to make sufficient progress. But not Amjad; he was discharged for making remarkable progress.
"Either way, they're doomed," says Yassine.
Not all autistic stakeholders, however, accept that autistic children are doomed if denied ABA-based therapies. Furthermore, some claim the politicization of autism is not only misguided, it may be hurting autistic people.
"What you see out there in those protests, it has never been about assistance," says Michelle Dawson, a developmental disorders researcher at Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies in Monteal. "It's not about helping autistic people succeed in society as autistic people. It's about making autistic people as normal as possible."
Dawson, herself autistic, says the rhetoric used in the autism debate portrays children as hopeless unless their autistic traits are quashed and replaced with everyday skills. She claims scientists have long known that how autistics act as children is a poor indicator of how successful they'll be as adults. Some of the most accomplished autistics she knows, says Dawson, displayed the most appalling behaviours as children.
Autism is a disability, says Dawson, not a disease -- ABA therapies, therefore, shouldn't be considered medical treatments. She is not for or against ABA, but believes that when people rush to take political positions on what's best for autistics, it detracts from more important issues, such as improving the science behind therapies and considering the ethics of applying them.
Good science means good therapies, says Dawson, and the goal of a good therapy should be to improve the lives of autistic people, not to pound autism into the ground.
Estee Klar-Wolfond, a Toronto writer and founder of The Autism Acceptance Project, also believes limiting the political debate about autism to funding IBI is short-sighted.
"We're sort of focusing so much on the children and getting rid of autism or fixing the child that we're ignoring that autism is lifelong, and that we need supports and services over the life span," says Klar-Wolfond. "We need to focus on all of it."
Klar-Wolfond has a five-year-old autistic son, Adam. When she enrolled him in an ABA-based therapy program, Adam's development didn't improve. In fact, she says, Adam regressed.
"Many ABA programs, not all, are administered in this really antiquated approach. If the child's not responding, it doesn't mean they don't know. So the kid gets held back. Awareness doesn't equal response."
Klar-Wolfond's year-old organization, which has 560 members, is preparing a document of recommendations to present to Ontario's next government. The suggestions will include encouraging the development of a mosaic of services and finding ways to reduce the stigma of autism.
Her message of accepting autism has proven divisive among parents of autistic children.
"It doesn't have to be a battle and a mud-slinging thing," she says. "Unfortunately, it tends to go that way. There are certain ABA advocates who really don't like me because I advocate the joy of autism, which is being misinterpreted as doing nothing."
Shalka probably wouldn't label himself as an ABA advocate. And he is certainly not opposed to the government introducing a variety of autism services. But when he and Gudyrenko explored the therapy options available for Philip in 2002, IBI seemed the best of the lot. (Although some researchers believe the studies supporting IBI are lacking, many autism experts consider ABA-based therapies the best available, though results vary widely from child to child.)
They applied to Ontario's autism intervention program, which is funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Autistic children are allowed into the program depending on the severity of their disorder, as determined by psychologists.
After an 11-month wait, Philip was accepted. His parents chose to receive funding for the therapy directly instead of taking him to a government-run treatment centre. A rotation of six therapists spent 40 hours a week with Philip at his home, leading him through a series of exercises designed to improve a host of skills: language, cognitive, social, self-help, fine- and coarse-motor control. Each exercise was broken down into small steps, which were repeated many times over.
Not long after beginning IBI, Philip began to respond if his name was called. When his parents asked him to do something, such as sit down, he no longer ignored them. His speech didn't develop much, but Shalka says IBI benefited his son in other ways. On a recent "receptive knowledge" test, Philip scored at the level of an 18-year-old.
"He's a bright little guy," says Shalka. "He's sort of locked in by a serious difficulty in communicating."
When Philip entered kindergarten in 2006, his funding was reduced to cover only 18 hours a week. When he turned six, a government of Ontario psychologist decided he was no longer making enough progress to justify the costs of his IBI sessions.
Soon after, the government discharged Philip from the intervention program. The psychologist recommended that Shalka and Gudyrenko explore alternative therapies for their son. When they asked her what the alternatives were, she said she didn't know.
"It's unfair and unjust that he was discharged, right in the middle of the school year, with two weeks notice," says Shalka. "He was essentially dumped."
Despite the psychologist's assessment, the
Orléans couple believes IBI can still help Philip, now seven, and has decided to continue the therapy at their own expense. Shalka, a public servant, estimates it will cost his family about $30,000 a year.
The inadequacy of the intervention program, however, is just one of the problems facing autistic children, says Shalka. There aren't enough properly trained therapists, he says. There is no IBI accreditation system, and autistic children don't receive IBI therapy in schools.
"The government has to get on with it and start doing something. That takes will and moral fibre," says Shalka. "I quite honestly doubt that McGuinty has this."
The Conservatives and NDP are making a lot of promises, says Shalka, but he doubts their sincerity. In his experience, politicians who aren't in power often talk big, but once in office, their memories suddenly grow short.
"I honestly don't know who I'm going to vote for," he says. "But I know who I'm not going to vote for."
See 'What Causes Autism?' in the Sunday Citizen as well as coverage of a weekend conference on autism.


Ask Lindsay Moir:
Shared Solutions from the Ministry of Education
Friday, September 28, 2007
Question:
This is an "alert" rather than a question.
The Ministry of Education has just released "Shared Solutions - a Guide to Preventing and Resolving Conflicts regarding Programs and Services for Students with Special Education Needs."
This document will be of great interest to families and community professional who support families.
This weeks "Answer" will be an explanation and critique of the document. The document is available at www.edu.gov.on.ca
Answer:
This document is a Resource Guide, therefore it is NOT mandatory for any board to follow. However, it is a compilation of strategies and good practices that would be very hard for senior administrators to ignore. I suspect that at the "board level" it will be well-received.
Special Education Advisory Committees should review it ASAP and consider recommending that be made Board Policy. They should consider recommending that all principals be given a copy and in-serviced on it this Fall.
Part 1: Introduction
• The guide focuses on "informal" conflict resolution
• "The Ministry of Education continues to encourage" the use of these strategies (not mandatory). This approach to Conflict Resolution comes from the Special Education Transformation document. There is no decision yet on the more formal mediation processes proposed in that document.
• Samples are based on real cases with names changed and are meant to illustrate the process-- not provide a specific solution.
Part 2: Overview of Special Education
• This section gives a quick overview of the system and the footnotes give some common references and resources for parental use.
• The section on Human Rights on page 9 is accurate, but stresses the "undue hardship" provision that is often used by schools as an excuse for failure to provide. While this is technically true - most of the services necessary to meet the needs of exceptional children, are not so onoreous as to create a real hardship! The OHRC has not used this section very often in Special Education cases.
Part 3: Understanding Conflict
• This section is a good "backgrounder" and should help parents, professionals and educators reach a common vocabulary and understanding of conflict issues. It is very basic and many people will be familiar with most of it . . . but again it is useful to get us all on the same page!
Part 4: Preventing Conflicts
• Again a good "backgrounder"
• Based on the Ottawa-Carleton DSB document "Positive School Climate Checklist" which can be downloaded in its entirety
• This is a fine THEORETICAL "motherhood" document that everyone can agree with. Moving the information from "paper to practice" is a real challenge. The Ottawa-Carleton DSB has a high number of Appeals and Tribunals pending, as well as a high number of OHRC complaints. Creating a "Positive School Climate" takes a lot more than an excellent document - it takes leadership, staff training . . . and time
Part 5: Resolving Conflicts
• Again, a good backgrounder and an easy to follow "Communication Protocol" of the order or steps in conflict resolution
• Much of this Protocol is based on the work of the SEAC of the York Region DSB
Part 6: Collaborative Approaches to Resolving Conflicts
• Three approaches "Problem-Solving", "Finding Common Ground" and "Using a facilitator" are explained.
• A case study is used to illustrate each approach
• Part 6 is self-explanatory
Part 7: Conclusion
• Self-explanatory
Appendix A: Roles & Responsibilities in Special Education
• A reprint directly from a Ministry publication
Appendix B: Shared Solutions on the Go
• A handy "tip sheet" to refer to in meetings
References
• A very complete listing of internet and print resources on the topic of Conflict Resolution in Special Education.
Overall, I have a positive view of this document and see it as a step towards a more collaborative dispute resolution system for Special Education. Certainly, the Special Education Appeal Board (SEAB) and Tribunal system (Reg 181) has been too slow and cumbersome for parents.
Hopefully, this "local" conflict resolution guide wil be the FIRST step in putting together an appeal process that works for exceptional students.
My caution is that simply putting this in print will NOT make it happen. I will be very interested in how the Ministry of Education will act in the IMPLEMENTATION and TRAINING stage - the emphasis they put there will indicate if they are serious about changing the conflict resolution approaches, or simply paying "lip-service" to this issue.
Lindsay Moir retired from the Ministry of Education in 1997 and has been assisting agencies, associations and parents in obtaining appropriate special education services for exceptional pupils.
Family Net welcomes your questions about special education in Ontario.
E-mail Lindsay at ask.questions@yahoo.ca He will answer as many questions as possible.

Family Wins Suit for Autistic Son's Health Care
by Larry Abramson


Enlarge
Courtesy Micheletti family
Jake Micheletti takes part in the first day of school. Autism therapy helped transform Jake into a gregarious little boy, his parents say, but they wrongly assumed the treatment was covered by their health insurance.




Enlarge
Larry Abramson, NPR
Jake with his two brothers Cole, 3, and Nickolas, 7, and his parents Elizabeth and Joe. Joe, an attorney, took his insurance company to court in order to get some of Jake's autism treatments covered.

***********

Fight for Greater Coverage
South Carolina recently began to allow increased coverage for autism therapies.
• Aug. 16, 2007
Read More
Morning Edition, September 26, 2007 • Two years ago, Jacob Micheletti was diagnosed with autism.
His parents say Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has transformed their son from a boy who was retreating into darkness into a precocious, gregarious kid.
Jake's father, Joe Micheletti, who works for the state of New Jersey, assumed the family's insurance company would cover the treatment costs. They were not, which came as a shock, Micheletti said. So he took the case to the state's highest court — facing off with fellow co-workers along the way — and won.
The Treatment
When autism therapist Kerrie Pawlikoski first met Jake, she says his language skills were limited.
"He would say 'Hello,' and you might say 'What's your name,' and sometimes he would say 'Jake,'" Pawlikoski says of Jake's first days in treatment. "Sometimes he'd say 'What's your name, Jake.' So, you know, a lot of repeating what the other person said."
Pawlikoski runs Child's Play, a therapy center in Branchburg, N.J. During the school year, Jake spends 5 1/2 hours a week working with her and therapist Daniella Simon. They work with Jake on skills he can only learn through intense repetition. Among other things, they spend hours practicing how to answer a question with an appropriate answer.
But despite the potential of the treatment, the insurance company said they would not cover the costs.
"What they said when they rejected me was that treatment was not restorative. It didn't restore a previously existing function," Micheletti says. "Jake was three and a half. He had never spoken before. [The insurance company thought], 'Why should we give him verbal behavior therapy to make him speak now.'"
The insurance company may not have known who they were tangling with.
The Battle Ahead
Micheletti is a deputy in the state attorney general's office. If he was to sue the state health plan, he knew he would have to fight his own boss in court.
"The office was very mixed. There are people there who have worked with me for a long time — career deputies — who were very supportive," Micheletti says. "There were administration officials who were not that supportive. They did not appreciate one of their own challenging them."
Micheletti lives with his wife and three kids in Milford, N.J., about an hour away from his Trenton office.
Elizabeth Micheletti, Jake's mother, is a stay-at-home mom who used to work as an attorney, too. When the family decided to launch the lawsuit, the couple turned into a crack legal team, and their writing styles and legal approaches meshed.
"Joe is so good with strategy, but I don't think he's as eloquent as I am," Elizabeth says, laughing.
The case dragged on. Even after the family won in the lower courts, the insurance company refused to pay. So before the New Jersey Supreme Court, Micheletti argued against one of his colleagues in the AG's office.
The court's justices were clearly peeved that the state-run insurance system continued to refuse to pay for Jake's therapy, even after a mandate from a lower court.
Assistant Attorney General Lewis A. Scheindlin told the court that the insurers just wanted to ensure that the therapy was legitimate.
"[That concern] is consistent with this general practice of checking who is providing therapies," Scheindlin told the court. "Give us your therapy notes, so we can check the patient's progress, [and] we can ensure that appropriate utilization and medical services is being provided."
When a decision came down earlier in September, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Michelettis. The judges ordered the insurance company to pay in full for all of Jake's therapy.
Growing Demands for Coverage
Many insurance companies say they will not cover ABA because they view it as experimental and unproven. The New Jersey State Health Benefits Commission declined to speak to NPR. NPR contacted a number of private insurance companies, such as CIGNA and AETNA. Those companies declined to be interviewed, but they did send regulations that state that they won't cover therapies considered experimental — including ABA.
Pamela Greenberg of the Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness says there just is not enough data on the effectiveness of ABA therapy.
"Yes, there are examples of where ABA has been very effective. And there are other examples of situations where it has been very harmful," Greenberg says. "Coverage decisions need to be made based on the best possible medical evidence and not just on the experience of a few cases."
The Michelettis' victory comes as parents of autistic children across the country are pushing for better coverage of this disorder. But better coverage for some families may mean higher premiums for everyone. That presents a dilemma for insurance companies, according to Mohit Ghose of America's Health Insurance Plans.
"The question then becomes: do you provide that through the healthcare setting, or do you provide that through the educational setting as many states have traditionally done?" Ghose says.
South Carolina and Texas have passed laws this year requiring some insurers to cover autism therapy, and the Pennsylvania House recently passed its own bill. When South Carolina's governor tried to veto his state's bill, he said one reason was that it would raise premiums by an estimated $48 a year. That veto was overturned. There's currently a bill before the New Jersey legislature that would mandate coverage for ABA. A state analysis concluded the bill would raise premium costs by less than 0.5 percent.
Jake's Progress with Therapy
Joe and Elizabeth Micheletti are overjoyed watching Jake play with his siblings. A year ago, they say, Jake largely ignored his brothers. Even though this affectionate five-year-old is making great progress, he still gets confused about how to phrase a question.
"What you can hug mommy," Jake asks his mother Elizabeth.
She quickly corrects him, "When can you hug mommy."
Like a lot of parents, the Michelettis desperately want Jake to succeed, not simply to get by. The Michelettis felt like they got adequate services from their school system. Jake has an aide in his kindergarten class. But their neurologist says Jacob would benefit from more intensive therapy. Elizabeth says her son has a right to thrive.
"The standard for a school to teach autistic children is … that they are making some progress," she says. "So their goal is not to recover or cure your child. Their goal is to show some educational progress."
"And schools are not medical professionals," Jake's father adds. "They are not doctors; they are not there to cure your child."
Therapists concede that some children won't flourish the way Jacob has — no matter how much therapy they get. So while the Michelettis' adventure is dramatic, it doesn't answer the toughest questions: What are these children entitled to? How much therapy should they get? And who should pay?
Radio piece produced by Marisa Penaloza

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• June 14, 2007
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• April 11, 2007
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• March 15, 2007
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What causes autism?
The answer is hotly debated -- scientists even disagree whether it's on the rise or not. With no agreement on what causes it, writes Tom Spears, doctors disagree on how to treat it

Tom Spears
The Ottawa Citizen

Sunday, September 30, 2007



CREDIT: Mike Carroccetto, The Ottawa Citizen
An autistic dchild plays after a demonstration for better treatment at Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty's Ottawa office last summer.

As soon as doctors identified autism, back in the 1940s, they blamed the "cold" mothers of toddlers with the disorder.
Early theory said that these mothers -- doctors actually called them "refrigerator mothers" -- withheld affection from their babies with terrible results.
No one believes that today. But science is still struggling to narrow down the list of theories about what does cause this baffling disorder.
Just this summer, two Pittsburgh professors suggested the brain cells of people with autism aren't connected in the same way as everyone else's. While each area of an autistic brain looks normal, the Pittsburgh professors wrote in a journal called Brain, different areas are missing connections. They can't talk to each other. And that's a new possible biological basis for a disease whose cause -- or, more likely, causes -- are hotly debated.
"There's a lot of disagreement among autism practitioners and researchers about just what it is," says psychologist David Wilder of Florida Institute of Technology.
"The consensus would be that it's at least in part genetically determined. I think there's consensus on that. But beyond that -- no."
One theory, particularly widespread in Britain, but now fading, has been that a combined vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, or MMR, causes autism. (Tens of thousands of British parents wouldn't let their children get the MMR vaccine since the late-1990s. Now there are clusters of measles outbreaks in Britain. Measles in young children is sometimes fatal.)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. tells parents: "The weight of currently available scientific evidence does not support the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism." But it leaves the door open a crack by adding: "We recognize there is considerable public interest in this issue, and therefore support additional research regarding this hypothesis."
MMR just won't go away as a theory, Dr. Wilder notes. "As time goes on, people are less and less confident that that's a trigger, but ... some people still do advocate for it."
There's talk of water or air pollutants. (A cluster of autism cases in New Jersey seems to be centred in a region full of industrial toxins.)
As well, public health statistics in Texas show that the largest increase in rates of autism took place in counties that also have the largest discharges of industrial waste, mainly from refineries and petrochemicals. It's not proof, but it's a red flag.
The theory doesn't take away from the role of genetics. Rather, it suggests that genes make some children susceptible, and environmental chemicals trigger the genes to do something harmful.
Other factors come in, too. A 2006 study in Israel found that men over 40 are nearly six times as likely to father an autistic child as those under the age of 30.
Meanwhile, the number of children identified with the disorder is growing. Before 1990, the rate was believed to be about three or four in every 10,000 children.
Today's estimates run from one in 500 to one in 167. This sudden change sparks a debate all its own.
"Certainly, there are more kids being diagnosed ... than there were years ago. But we're not even sure that there are really more kids with the disorder now," Dr. Wilder says. "It may be a diagnosis issue.
"Certainly," he adds, "people would disagree on that."
Dr. Wilder's main business is treating children with autism. With no agreement on a cause of the disease, he says, it's hard to argue for or against various treatments.
Some people believe vitamins should be used, he notes. Some want pressurized oxygen chambers to push more oxygen into the children's brains. Some want chelation -- using chemicals to remove metals, such as lead and mercury, from the bloodstream.
"There's probably no one cause for this," he says. "In fact, I think we're going to find out that what we call autism is really a whole range of disorders." This would explain the "huge range of variability," from children with subtle gaps in their social skills to those who can't talk and injure themselves.
Patients (and drug makers) often hope to find The Gene -- one gene that's entirely responsible for a disease. But heart disease probably combines the effect of dozens of genes with diet, exercise and smoking. And autism is currently believed to involve from a dozen to as many as 100 genes, each with some effect, but none responsible alone.
This is a booming time for scientists tracking those genes, says Peter Szatmari, director of the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster University. He teaches psychiatry, behavioural neurosciences and pediatrics at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.
Three or four autism-related genes have been recently discovered and more are sure to come, he says. All of those found so far are involved in synapses -- the "architecture" of how neurons connect.
Nail down the responsible genes and diagnosis can take place years earlier than it does today. "The earlier the intervention, the better the outcome."
Others echo this need for faster identification.
"Introducing behavioural interventions even one year earlier can make a tremendous difference in the lives of children with autism, and their families," said Dr. Rebecca Landa, director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. "If we are able to educate professionals to identify red flags in development, we can then recognize and diagnose the disorder at one-and-a-half or two years of age, instead of three or four, allowing for earlier intervention and, ultimately, better outcomes."
Dr. Szatmari has seen the number of cases shoot upward, but doesn't believe a toxic environment is suddenly producing far more cases than in the past. He thinks they've always been there, undiagnosed.
"When I came to work here at Chedoke (Hospital, in Hamilton), there were like five kids who had a diagnosis of autism.
"I started to see other kids who had other diagnoses. But when I applied the more up-to-date criteria, all those kids had autism. In the old days, they had mental retardation, childhood schizophrenia, learning disabilities, obsessive-compulsive disorder. They just weren't being recognized as having autism. Now we've got 400 or 500 kids with the diagnosis."
But many researchers strongly believe autism is spreading at a rate higher than improved diagnosis alone can explain. These include Dr. Brian MacFabe of the University of Western Ontario.
"You're looking at increased incidence of the disease, particularly in the past 10 years," he says.
That's an indicator of difference in environmental conditions, he argues, because the human race's genes don't change that fast.
A clue that environment is part of the key to autism: Identical twins, born with the same genes, may have differences -- either one with autism and one without, or the two showing different levels of autism.
(In Hamilton, Dr. Szatmari uses the same example of twins to support the opposite argument -- that identical twins are more likely than non-identical twins to share autism, and that genetics is far more important than environmental effects.)
Dr. MacFabe's own route of inquiry focuses on what we eat, and especially what drugs we take as young children.
A major clue that popped out was that a sizeable minority of children seem fine for about two or three years. They're social, happy and learning language. Then their parents report a sudden change. The toddlers stop speaking, stop interacting with others, all in a matter of days or weeks.
Dr. MacFabe wonders if it's something that came from the doctor's office -- not likely MMR vaccine, but antibiotics for those endless childhood infections.
Antibiotics can dramatically change the balance of the "friendly" bacteria in the digestive system, which digest food and also balance the immune system. And autistic children often have digestive problems -- diarrhea or constipation.
"Some families also report their children (with autism) have weird food interests, craving carbohydrates." As well, some find that changing diet improves the system, often when they abandon milk products and wheat.
The link between the gut and the brain, he believes, could be a type of chemical that's produced by some intestinal bacteria as they break down carbohydrates, called a short-chain fatty acid. These compounds could represent a link, he believes, between the bacteria in the digestive system and what's happening in the brain.
He gave a common fatty acid to rats, and they quickly developed autistic symptoms.
"What we found that was interesting was that the behaviours only happened when the compound was in the rats." Once the rats burned up this compound, they went back to normal behaviour -- until the next injection. Then they became even more sensitive to the chemical.
"It may be a possible link." But the experiments are in adult rats only, not in human children. And medical research is full of drugs that cure or control cancer and other disease in lab animals, but not in people.
"It's such a loaded thing," he cautions. He doesn't want parents to withhold antibiotics from their children.
Autism is a complex disorder, he notes, "and you can have tunnel vision in only looking at one thing." But he feels his research is validation of the idea that some form of "gut problem" is involved in autism.
"These kids are, in the vernacular, sick. Their bodies are sick."
And if so, "then these diseases are potentially treatable or preventable."


Doctor says disorder must be seen 'as a medical illness'
Roger Collier, The Ottawa Citizen
Published:Â Sunday, September 30, 2007
When her son, Patrick, was diagnosed with autism more than four years ago, Wendy Edwards, a southern Ontario pediatrician, reviewed the science about the disorder, which seemed to indicate there was no treatment. Patrick, then three years old, would stare at toys for hours, ignoring the people around him, and sometimes flap his arms or walk in circles. At first, Dr. Edwards felt there was nothing she could do to help him.
"Then I let the mother in me take over," she said.
Dr. Edwards, along with Derrick MacFabe, director of an autism research group at the University of Western Ontario, and Martha Herbert, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, were the featured speakers at "Autism: A Medical Condition," a conference presented by the Autism Canada Foundation at the University of Ottawa yesterday. Their message: autism is a full-body condition, and not limited to the brain.
"The paradigm of autism is changing," said Dr. Edwards. "This needs to be viewed as a medical illness."
In additional to the popular behaviour therapies, such as IBI (intensive behaviour intervention), Dr. Edwards says people should consider biomedical treatments. When parents ask her to help their autistic children, Dr. Edwards' advice sometimes catches them by surprise.
"I insist that parents work on helping the gut first," she said.
Autistic children have "skewed" immune systems, Dr. Edwards said, which means that viruses and fungi in the stomach cannot be handled properly. This leads to inflammation in the digestive tract. As a result, the immune system releases chemicals called cytokines, which reach the brain and can affect mood, sleep, appetite, memory, learning and social interaction.
A gluten- and casein-free diet, said Dr. Edwards, may reduce immune system reactions that lead to inflammation. She also recommended ridding the digestive tract of unwanted bacteria, fungi and viruses by using supplements such as garlic, cranberry, oregano oil, grapefruit seed extract and olive leaf extract.
Dr. Edwards admitted that her approach to treating autism does not yet have solid scientific backing. But sometimes, she said, waiting for a conclusive study is not the best approach.
"Why not do what we feel is working while we wait for the study to prove or disprove it ... if we're not out there doing all these things and telling the researchers, 'What about this?' the research won't get done."
Dr. Edwards also recommended ridding the body of toxins with antioxidants like Vitamin C, taurine and carnosine. Parents of autistic children should also avoid using toxic cleaners in their homes, she said.
Autistic children also have trouble sleeping, said Dr. Edwards, which may be hurting their overall health. She recommended parents try melatonin to help their children sleep better and said that it may have other biochemical benefits, as it is also an antioxidant.
Dr. Edwards said her son, who is now seven, has improved remarkably since she adopted these practices. His verbal skills are excellent, he makes eye contact and last June he graduate at the top of his Grade 1 class.
"Not all children will recover all the way, but many, and in fact most, will improve to some degree with this treatment."
Ottawa Citizen
The Politics of Autism
Better access to therapy for autistic children has become an election issue in Ontario. Parents are angry and active. But not everyone agrees on the best approach
Roger Collier, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Saturday, September 29, 2007
He was the son they had been waiting for. Robert Shalka and Lena Gudyrenko already had a daughter, Roberta, and now here was Philip -- blue-eyed, dark-haired, a beautiful boy. When 18-month-old Roberta first saw her baby brother, she called him "lial'ka," a Ukrainian word she had learned from her mother. It means doll.
"We had a million-dollar family," says Shalka.
Philip was a quiet baby. At a year old, he showed little interest in toys and didn't respond when his parents said his name. He pushed away hugs. Months later, Roberta asked her parents why Philip didn't talk.
In October 2002, three months after Philip's second birthday, a neurologist diagnosed him with autism. The news blindsided his parents. When the shock faded, says Shalka, the grieving began.
"There were a lot of tears. It was like a death in the family."
Philip is one of about 18,000 autistic children in Ontario. Many parents feel the province is doing too little to improve access to a popular autism therapy called intensive behaviour intervention, or IBI. They're angry. And active. They've taken their pleas to the Internet, to the media and, on more than one occasion, to Ontario's streets. And autism has become an issue in the ongoing Ontario election campaign, with politicans trying to buy votes with offers of more money for treatment.
This isn't the first time the worlds of autism and politics have overlapped in Canada. In 1998, four families sued the British Columbia government, arguing that autism was a medical condition and the expense of treating it therefore fell to the province. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled in favour of the B.C. government in 2004.
Several Ontario families affected by autism recently launched a similar challenge, which came to a similar end: defeat. The loss inflamed an already hot situation -- just in time for the provincial election. The leaders of Ontario's Progressive Conservative and NDP parties haven't failed to take advantage.
Conservative leader John Tory has reminded voters, again and again, that the list of children waiting for autism services has grown at least 10-fold since the Liberals took office. Premier Dalton McGuinty, he says, has failed the autism community. If elected, Tory says he would commit an additional $75 million a year toward autism therapies and clear the waiting list.
Howard Hampton, leader of Ontario's NDP party, has promised that an NDP government would invest an additional $100 million to help autistic children. The new funding would be used to improve access to therapies, provide respite care and fund autism research.
So, which platform appeals most to those involved in the fight to improve Ontario's autism services? The answer, quite possibly, is neither.
"It's not about party platforms. It's more about a leader that we can trust, a leader with integrity who will implement what he promises," says Sam Yassine, an Ottawa father of an autistic child and member of the Ontario Autism Coalition. "Maybe John Tory or Howard Hampton will lie to us. But for sure, there is no doubt that Dalton McGuinty will lie again."
To understand why Yassine, and many other parents of autistic children, hold McGuinty in such low regard, one must look back four years, to the day when the soon-to-be premier wrote a letter that quickly came back to haunt him.
During the last provincial election campaign, in September 2003, McGuinty sent a letter to Nancy Morrison, the mother of an autistic child from Bradford, Ont. In the letter, he criticized the then-ruling Conservative party for only providing IBI funding for children between the ages of two and five. He called the policy unfair and discriminatory.
"The Ontario Liberals support extending autism treatment beyond the age of six," wrote McGuinty.
In April 2005, an Ontario court decided that refusing IBI for children based on age was, indeed, discriminatory. Ontario Superior Court Judge Frances Kiteley ordered the province to pay for therapy for all autistic school children. McGuinty, now premier, balked at the ruling.
Within days, the Liberal party launched an appeal. The government should decide how expensive therapies are funded, McGuinty said, not the courts. Some parents of autistic children were baffled, and outraged, by the premier's decision.
On July 7, 2006, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the government. Mary Anne Chambers, Ontario's minister of Children and Youth Services, was quick to assure parents of autistic children that the government, while now in control of funding decisions, had no intention of refusing therapy based on age.
But the parents who supported the original ruling claimed McGuinty had betrayed them. They held protests throughout the province and appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. This spring, however, the Supreme Court announced it would not consider the appeal.
Despite the court battle, and the ugly publicity it spawned, McGuinty insists he has done much to help the autistic community. The Liberals have overseen the creation of an IBI graduate course at Brock University, the only one of its kind in the province. They have also designated $140 million for autism services for 2007-08, more than triple the $44 million spent in 2003-04.
Ontario's autistic children are better off today, the premier says, than they were when he was elected. Yassine would beg to differ.
Yassine's seven-year-old son, Amjad, began government-funded IBI therapy three years ago. (IBI is based on the principles of applied behaviour analysis, or ABA, which is a process of observing and modifying behaviour.) The results, Yassine says, were amazing.
Amjad starting communicating, using a mix of short sentences and sign language. He interacted with his sister. When another child wanted to play with his cherished toy trains, Amjad no longer threw a tantrum.
After turning six, though, Amjad was discharged from the province's autism intervention program. Some children lose their funding because they fail to make sufficient progress. But not Amjad; he was discharged for making remarkable progress.
"Either way, they're doomed," says Yassine.
Not all autistic stakeholders, however, accept that autistic children are doomed if denied ABA-based therapies. Furthermore, some claim the politicization of autism is not only misguided, it may be hurting autistic people.
"What you see out there in those protests, it has never been about assistance," says Michelle Dawson, a developmental disorders researcher at Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies in Monteal. "It's not about helping autistic people succeed in society as autistic people. It's about making autistic people as normal as possible."
Dawson, herself autistic, says the rhetoric used in the autism debate portrays children as hopeless unless their autistic traits are quashed and replaced with everyday skills. She claims scientists have long known that how autistics act as children is a poor indicator of how successful they'll be as adults. Some of the most accomplished autistics she knows, says Dawson, displayed the most appalling behaviours as children.
Autism is a disability, says Dawson, not a disease -- ABA therapies, therefore, shouldn't be considered medical treatments. She is not for or against ABA, but believes that when people rush to take political positions on what's best for autistics, it detracts from more important issues, such as improving the science behind therapies and considering the ethics of applying them.
Good science means good therapies, says Dawson, and the goal of a good therapy should be to improve the lives of autistic people, not to pound autism into the ground.
Estee Klar-Wolfond, a Toronto writer and founder of The Autism Acceptance Project, also believes limiting the political debate about autism to funding IBI is short-sighted.
"We're sort of focusing so much on the children and getting rid of autism or fixing the child that we're ignoring that autism is lifelong, and that we need supports and services over the life span," says Klar-Wolfond. "We need to focus on all of it."
Klar-Wolfond has a five-year-old autistic son, Adam. When she enrolled him in an ABA-based therapy program, Adam's development didn't improve. In fact, she says, Adam regressed.
"Many ABA programs, not all, are administered in this really antiquated approach. If the child's not responding, it doesn't mean they don't know. So the kid gets held back. Awareness doesn't equal response."
Klar-Wolfond's year-old organization, which has 560 members, is preparing a document of recommendations to present to Ontario's next government. The suggestions will include encouraging the development of a mosaic of services and finding ways to reduce the stigma of autism.
Her message of accepting autism has proven divisive among parents of autistic children.
"It doesn't have to be a battle and a mud-slinging thing," she says. "Unfortunately, it tends to go that way. There are certain ABA advocates who really don't like me because I advocate the joy of autism, which is being misinterpreted as doing nothing."
Shalka probably wouldn't label himself as an ABA advocate. And he is certainly not opposed to the government introducing a variety of autism services. But when he and Gudyrenko explored the therapy options available for Philip in 2002, IBI seemed the best of the lot. (Although some researchers believe the studies supporting IBI are lacking, many autism experts consider ABA-based therapies the best available, though results vary widely from child to child.)
They applied to Ontario's autism intervention program, which is funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Autistic children are allowed into the program depending on the severity of their disorder, as determined by psychologists.
After an 11-month wait, Philip was accepted. His parents chose to receive funding for the therapy directly instead of taking him to a government-run treatment centre. A rotation of six therapists spent 40 hours a week with Philip at his home, leading him through a series of exercises designed to improve a host of skills: language, cognitive, social, self-help, fine- and coarse-motor control. Each exercise was broken down into small steps, which were repeated many times over.
Not long after beginning IBI, Philip began to respond if his name was called. When his parents asked him to do something, such as sit down, he no longer ignored them. His speech didn't develop much, but Shalka says IBI benefited his son in other ways. On a recent "receptive knowledge" test, Philip scored at the level of an 18-year-old.
"He's a bright little guy," says Shalka. "He's sort of locked in by a serious difficulty in communicating."
When Philip entered kindergarten in 2006, his funding was reduced to cover only 18 hours a week. When he turned six, a government of Ontario psychologist decided he was no longer making enough progress to justify the costs of his IBI sessions.
Soon after, the government discharged Philip from the intervention program. The psychologist recommended that Shalka and Gudyrenko explore alternative therapies for their son. When they asked her what the alternatives were, she said she didn't know.
"It's unfair and unjust that he was discharged, right in the middle of the school year, with two weeks notice," says Shalka. "He was essentially dumped."
Despite the psychologist's assessment, the
Orléans couple believes IBI can still help Philip, now seven, and has decided to continue the therapy at their own expense. Shalka, a public servant, estimates it will cost his family about $30,000 a year.
The inadequacy of the intervention program, however, is just one of the problems facing autistic children, says Shalka. There aren't enough properly trained therapists, he says. There is no IBI accreditation system, and autistic children don't receive IBI therapy in schools.
"The government has to get on with it and start doing something. That takes will and moral fibre," says Shalka. "I quite honestly doubt that McGuinty has this."
The Conservatives and NDP are making a lot of promises, says Shalka, but he doubts their sincerity. In his experience, politicians who aren't in power often talk big, but once in office, their memories suddenly grow short.
"I honestly don't know who I'm going to vote for," he says. "But I know who I'm not going to vote for."
See 'What Causes Autism?' in the Sunday Citizen as well as coverage of a weekend conference on autism.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Globe
Plight of autistic children resonates in campaign
KAREN HOWLETT
October 1, 2007
TORONTO -- When Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty wrote a letter in September of 2003 to Nancy Morrison, the mother of an autistic son, he had no way of knowing it would come back to haunt him four years later.
Ms. Morrison had asked all three political leaders during the 2003 election campaign for their party's position on funding the cost of therapy after autistic children reach age 6. She told the leaders she would e-mail their responses far and wide.
Mr. McGuinty promised in the letter to end the previous Progressive Conservative government's "unfair and discriminatory" practice of cutting off funding when children turned 6. "These children need - and deserve - our help and support," the letter says.
The problem for Mr. McGuinty is that Ms. Morrison kept her end of the bargain and he didn't.
It was not until two years after he was in office - when the courts ruled in July of 2005 that the province was violating the children's constitutional rights by denying them treatment - that Mr. McGuinty lived up to his promise.
He has the politically savvy activist to thank for the fact that his letter found its way to families as far away as Europe, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand, thrusting services for autistic children into the spotlight in the current election campaign. The topic has been embraced by both the New Democrats and the Progressive Conservatives.
The rising incidence of autism alone does not explain why the issue has been front and centre - the disease affects one in 165 children. It's also because the campaign has revolved around two issues - Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory's contentious plan to fund faith-based schools and Mr. McGuinty's broken promises. The one involving autism was considered so egregious because it involved vulnerable children.
"A lot of people in our community changed their vote to Liberal because of those promises," said Ms. Morrison, the New Democrat candidate in the riding of York-Simcoe. "This was one of his biggest broken promises."
Mary Anne Chambers, who served as the Liberal Minister of Children and Youth Services, said her party more than tripled annual spending on autism services to $140-million, doubled the number of children receiving intensive behavioural intervention therapy and dramatically reduced the waiting list for assessing children. There are 900 children on the waiting list.
The IBI therapy, a system of behaviour modification to teach autistic children language skills and how to play appropriately, costs an average of $70,000 a year for each child.
But even Ms. Chambers conceded that autism has generated more than its share of interest in the current campaign.
"It's a little bit of an interesting one, to say the least," she said in an interview. "It's one of those things that has a very political character to it."
Mr. McGuinty's letter has been quoted repeatedly by Ms. Morrison and other parents at rallies and at the provincial legislature, who have reminded politicians repeatedly of the emotional and financial toll autism takes on families.
Ms. Morrison said she and her husband have nearly gone broke refinancing their home in Bradford, Ont., to pay for treatment for their eight-year-old son, Sean, who spends mornings at home with his IBI therapist and afternoons in a Grade 4 classroom.
Sean is of average to above-average intelligence, Ms. Morrison said. "We just need to work at getting it out of him."
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
National Post
New Attack Ads Target McGuinty
Tories On Offensive
Mary Vallis, National Post
Published: Monday, October 01, 2007
Ontario's Progressive Conservatives are releasing a new wave of attack ads today as polls suggest Dalton Mc-Guinty's Liberals could win another majority government.
The television spots do not mention John Tory's controversial position on religious schools, which has been singled out as the sole reason his party is trailing its main rival.
The party says the ads "provide a contrast between the weak leadership of Dalton Mc-Guinty and the leadership that John Tory will demonstrate," underscoring the theme of the Tory campaign, "leadership matters."
The spots begin with average Ontarians complaining about how Mr. McGuinty has handled crime, health care and the economy, then show Mr. Tory in a blue shirt with rolled-up sleeves talking over a meeting of campaign workers.
"I'm finding it really hard to raise my kids properly with these new taxes in Ontario," a man tells an off-camera interviewer.
"Dalton McGuinty sure hasn't been living in my world these past four years."
The camera then switches to Mr. Tory, who pledges to "scrap the unfair McGuinty health tax" if elected, beginning with low-income Ontarians.
"By the end of four years, the tax will be gone for everyone," Mr. Tory says.
"We need to restore Ontario's reputation as the leading province in which to work, and to prosper and to support our families."
The ads are designed to make Mr. McGuinty's broken promises the defining election issue, rather than faith-based schools.
Mr. Tory has been struggling to shift the focus of his campaign to other planks of his platform ever since August, when the Liberals began attacking his plan to offer funding to faith-based schools that are currently operating outside the public system.
But the issue has dogged him ever since. It remained front and centre yesterday during Mr. Tory's debate with Kathleen Wynne, his rival candidate in Don Valley West, who is also the Liberals' Education Minister.
The new television ads revisit issues Mr. Tory addressed on the campaign trail last week, including his promises to provide an additional $75-million a year for children's autism treatment and hire 50 new Crown attorneys.
"I just don't feel safe when I hear that in Toronto last year, seven out of 10 murders were committed by people out on bail or probation," a young woman in a residential neighbourhood tells the camera.
"Why hasn't Dalton Mc-Guinty done anything about this? He's had four years!"
Then Mr. Tory repeats his pledge to end the "catch-andrelease? bail and sentencing deals" and double the amount the province spends to keep repeat offenders off the streets.
"I'll get started Week One," Mr. Tory says. "It's time for action. It's time for real leadership."
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Star
The YouTube campaign



Oct 01, 2007 01:28 PM
thestar.com staff
The rise of Internet video-sharing sites like YouTube have opened new opportunities for parties, interest groups and citizens alike to try to get their point across - or ambush their opponents.
The relative anonymity of the Internet can make it difficult to pin down who is who, making the online campaign the place for partisan shenanigans and negative campaigning - so you have to take much of what's out there with a grain of salt. Some are nasty, brutish and short; others are slick, well-produced and surprisingly thoughtful. Most don't get a lot of eyeballs.
We've tried to skim some of the more interesting bits from this "YouTube campaign" below. The views expressed are not ours and we present these links without vouching for the originator's true identities. We'll add to this list over the final days of the campaign.
Issues

The Ontario Autism Coalition has posted 15 videos on the issue of funding for autism treatment in Ontario, including snippets from the leaders TV debate, the candidates answering questions about the issue, footage from the Ontario Autism Coalition Day of Action on Sept. 15 - and a digitally-modified version of Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues video that makes a pointed case for more autism treatment funding.

Moment of YOUth (www.momentofyouth.org), a group that purports to explain the Canadian political process to young people, has posted a series of videos reminiscent of Rick Mercer's walking rants, including clips on poverty and minimum wage.


Electoral Reform Referendum and MMP

Someone going by the handle simpleMMP has posted a decidedly pro-MMP video called "Understand MMP in 2 Minutes." It's actually 1 minute and 51 seconds, features good graphics and has a great soundtrack. Nicely done.
A 22-year-old student with the moniker BeachofDreams presents the case for MMP in a Norman-McLaren-meets-Soviet-propaganda animated video.

A Hamilton-based group called the Women and Minorities Project has posted several videos from an Electoral Reform Information Forum it held on Sept. 8, which addressed such questions as: How minorities can benefit from MMP and Does MMP provide better representation?
A user named VoteforMMPvideos posts several clips of experts, including Conservative Sen. Hugh Segal, speaking in favour of MMP at a forum in Kingston, Ont.
At an all-candidates meeting local candidates from the NDP, Communist, Family Coalition, Conservative, Green and Liberal parties answer the question: Where do you and your party stand on MMP?
And York U. prof. Dennis Raphael chooses his backyard chair as platform from which to talk about Proportional Representation in Ontario Elections.
Even Elections Ontario, the non-partisan agency tasked with making Ontarians aware that there is a referendum on Oct. 10 and what it means, gets in on the YouTube act, posting its cheeky TV ads as well as a 4-minute explainer video.
And the Ontario Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform, a citizen's group appointed by the Ontario Legislature to study Ontario's electoral system and which ultimately recommended a new mixed-member proportional system, explains itself here.

Parties
The smaller political parties can't afford to run TV ads - but it doesn't mean they can't good ones, like this Green Party ad.
The Freedom Party of Ontario has posted 47 videos by last count, many of party leader Paul McKeever's appearances across the province.

The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) has posted videos by four of their candidates.

The videos for individuals can get pretty slick, like this video for Dwight Duncan's campaign, which features the Fatboy Slim song "Praise You" (wonder if they paid the royalties?).

We don't know what to make of this, the Ontario Young Liberals of the James Bay Region's "What's Sexy to You?"

The partisans

YouTube is something of the wild west of politics, since anyone can hoist a camera or edit some video and upload it for the world to see. And sometimes, they do, like this video shot by someone later revealed to be a Liberal supporter catching John Tory's now-infamous "U of Zero" remark.

This guy, going by the handle ToryTube, is dogging PC Leader John Tory on the campaign trail and posting the results.

26-year-old Leslie Coulter is doing the same to Dalton McGuinty.

"Rupertrich" critiques the McGuinty government record with three well-edited video "report cards," with archive footage and some good interviews with activists and journalists.

User premierpinnochio edits a press conference by Premier Dalton McGuinty (photo at left) to add a laugh track and inter-titles to make his or her partisan point on crime - one that hews very closely to official Progressive Conservative attack ads.

NEWS RELEASE:
For Immediate Release - October 1, 2007
Urine Testing Confirms Autism is Mercury Poisoning

WASHINGTON, DC - A new peer-reviewed scientific/medical case study confirms that many children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) suffer from mercury poisoning. The new study, "A Prospective Study of Mercury Toxicity Biomarkers in Autistic Spectrum Disorders" by Mr. David A. Geier and Dr. Mark R. Geier has been published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A (volume 70, issue 20, pgs 1723-1730).
This study utilized urinary porphyrin profile analysis (UPPA) to assess body-burden and physiological effects of mercury in children diagnosed with ASDs.
Using UPPA, Geier and Geier (2007) examined 71 children diagnosed with ASDs, neurotypical siblings, and general population controls. The researchers studied urinary porphyrin patterns using results reported both by the US Laboratory Corporation of America (LabCorp) and the French Laboratoire Philippe Auguste.
Their findings demonstrated that:
* Only the non-chelated patients diagnosed with ASDs had porphyrin patterns indicative of clinical mercury toxicity.
* Treating ASD diagnosed patients with chelating agents resulted in lower mercury-specific urinary porphyrins.
* The UPPA patterns reported were consistent between the two labs used.
The results of the present study confirm and extend previous observations by Nataf et al. (2006) and Geier and Geier (2006) on the use of UPPA profiling to establish the causal role for mercury in ASDs. Additionally, the current findings are consistent with those observed by many other physicians who treat patients diagnosed with both ASDs and mercury toxicity.
Thus, urinary porphyrin profile testing is being successfully used to:
* Demonstrate the role of mercury in ASD populations,
* Identify those children and adults who are mercury poisoned, and
* Track mercury excretion from affected children undergoing treatment.
For the past several years there has been a raging controversy as to whether or not mercury in medicines, especially in vaccines, has caused a dramatic rise in the rate of children diagnosed with an ASD. Many experts have insisted ASDs are caused by some yet-to-be-identified genetic cause. A paper recently published in Nature Genetics described the results of multi-million-dollar genetics study (which studied a thousand-plus families with at least two children diagnosed with an ASD using in-depth genetic screening). Tellingly, the authors reported, "None of our linkage results can be interpreted as 'statistically significant'."(The Autism Genome Project Consortium 2007).
With the current study's results, public health officials should now publicly admit what they have been saying in their private transcripts and memos: Mercury from Thimerosal-containing vaccines and other medicines has been a major cause of ASD cases, which, based on recent CDC estimates (CDC 2007), may exceed a rate of one in 100 children.
Today, any parent, physician, or healthcare provider can easily confirm whether a non-chelated child with an ASD diagnosis is mercury poisoned by having UPPA testing run at either laboratory.
CoMeD's web site, http://www.Mercury-freeDrugs.org contains:
* Further information on how to order these tests,
* Full copies of the Nataf et al. (2006), Geier and Geier (2006), & Geier and Geier (2007), and
* Some of the many published papers validating the UPPA test.
Contact:
CoMeD President [Rev. Lisa K. Sykes (Richmond, VA) 804-364-8426]
CoMeD Sci. Advisor [Dr. King (Lake Hiawatha, NJ) 973-997-1321]
________________________________________
Click here to read"A Prospective Study of Mercury Toxicity Biomarkers in Autistic Spectrum Disorders," David A. Geier, Institute of Chronic Illnesses, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, Mark R. Geier, MD, PhD, Genetic Centers of America, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
Summary
Porphyrins are derivatives formed in the heme synthesis pathway and porphyrins afford a measure of xenobiotic exposure. The steps in the heme pathway most vulnerable to heavy metal inhibition are uroporphyrin decarboxylase (UROD) and coproporphyrinogen oxidase (CPOX) reactions. Mercury toxicity was associated with elevations in urinary coproporphyrin (cP), pentacarboxyporphyrin (5cxP), and precoproporphyrin (prcP) (also known as keto-isocoproporphyrin) levels. Two cohorts of autistic patients in the United States and France had urine porphyrin levels associated with mercury toxicity. A prospective study of urinary porphyrin testing at LabCorp (United States) and the Laboratoire Philippe Auguste (France) involving 71 autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients, neurotypical sibling controls, and general population controls was undertaken. ASD patients had significant elevations in urinary levels of cP, 5cxP, and prcP relative to controls, and > 50% of ASD patients had urinary cP levels more than 2 standard deviations above the mean values for neurotypical sibling controls. Significant reductions in urinary 5cxP and cP levels were observed in ASD patients following chelation. A significant correlation was found between urinary porphyrins measured at LabCorp and those measured at the Laboratoire Philippe Auguste on individual ASD patients. The established developmental neurotoxicity attributed to mercury and biochemical/genomic evidence for mercury susceptibility/ toxicity in ASDs indicates a causal role for mercury. Urinary porphyrin testing is clinically available, relatively inexpensive, and noninvasive. Porphyrins need to be routinely measured in ASDs to establish if mercury toxicity is a causative factor and to evaluate the effectiveness of chelation therapy.

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http://www.midnorthmonitor.com/webapp/sitepages/content.asp?contentid=708260&catname=Local%20News&classif=News%20Alert
Senator proposes national autism funding program

by ROSALIND RABY
Local News - Tuesday, September 25, 2007 Updated @ 1:52:11 PM

A well-known Senator is proposing the federal government put a national funding program in place for autism. Senator Jim Munson told the Mid-North Monitor that despite health care being a provincial mandate, that a national program is vital to assist those afflicted with autism and their families.

Munson is a well-respected Canadian journalist. He also recently served as the Director of Communications to the Prime Minister. He has had an extensive career in journalism both in Canada and abroad. He previously served as a television correspondent for CTV reporting on national events in the public and political arena. He was CTV’s Bureau Chief in Beijing from 1987 to 1992 reporting on events in China such as the Tiananmen Massacre of June 4, 1989. He also served as Bureau Chief and senior correspondent in Halifax, Nova Scotia and London, England. He has covered the Iran-Iraq war, the Gulf war and the Philippines.

Munson has twice been nominated for a Gemini Award in recognition of excellence in journalism.

Munson was in Espanola and Elliot Lake earlier this month as a guest of federal Liberal Member of Parliament, Brent St. Denis, to meet with affected stakeholders, as well as Special Olympians from Elliot Lake. He admitted he has personal reasons to be involved in both issues.
“My wife, Ginette, and I live in Ottawa with our two sons, but we lost another son at a very early age,” explained Munson. “Timothy was born with Downs Syndrome and lived less than a year, but he is what motivates me to work on issues involving children, especially Special Olympians and those with autism.

“I became actively involved in the fight for autism support when I was walking on Parliament Hill some two years ago.

There was a lone father, Andrew Kavehak, dressed in suit and tie, protesting with a placard and begging for support for his child with autism. Here was a civil servant, a successful individual, spending his time trying to win support for his and other families affected by the affliction. It broke my heart. I knew this was a cause worth fighting.”

Munson helped the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology develop a public inquiry and report, Pay Now or Pay Later, that clearly outlines a strategy to assist autism families. It is the final result of a two-year enquiry on the funding for the treatment of autism.

“Autism is a crisis in Canada; it’s an epidemic,” he said. “It is not just a provincial issue. However, since health is a provincial mandate, there is a hodgepodge of policies that differ between the provinces. Alberta has an excellent funding program to help families with autism, but Ontario doesn’t.

“The strategy calls on federal Health Minister, Tony Clement, to have all the stakeholders come together to develop a national strategy on autism, including his provincial counterparts, develop funding for every province, to break down the provincial barriers and to come up with a unified plan that provides fair, equal funding, treatment and services to every person with autism and their families.

“We have to think outside the box and get on with the job. We have to put a new system in place. Families are isolated and feel so alone. Some are breaking up. Some have no choice, but to move so their child can get the help they need. They should not have to do that. They’re crying for help and we have to answer that call.”

The report was released in March of this year. Munson said he would now be pushing for his fellow senators to keep the issue and the strategy on the front burner.

“We have to start putting pressure on the federal government to implement the strategy, to provide targeted funding for autism. That is already in place with other health needs. For example, the federal government will provide targeted funding to the provinces for specific pieces of equipment, such as MRIs. That money must be spent on that equipment. The same can be applied to autism funding.

“We have to eliminate waiting lists for the programming that will help the children, put a certified training program in place, create a centre where autistic families can source funding and information, and provide the funding so each and every autistic person gets the help they need.

“We have a national strategy for mental health. Why shouldn’t there be one for autism? It is a special need like any other and the federal government, as well as all provincial governments, has the responsibility to meet those needs,” emphasized Munson.

Munson said he plans to continue travelling across the country to gain support for the strategy. He encourages the public to write letters to MP Brent St. Denis and other members of Parliament to ask for the strategy to be put in place.

“These individuals, the families, need help now. The public can play their part by supporting the strategy. It only takes a moment of their time to do so. We have to keep pushing for this,” concluded Munson.



VOTE NDP TO MAKE SURE DALTON MCGUINTY DOESN’T LET DOWN WORKING FAMILIES AGAIN, SAYS HAMPTON
location: Hanmer
date: October 2, 2007 - 8:00am
body:
Ontario NDP Leader Howard Hampton and outgoing NDP Nickel Belt MPP Shelley Martel hosted a high-energy momentum breakfast with NDP Candidates France Gélinas (Nickel Belt) and Dave Battaino (Sudbury) this morning. With just eight days to go, Hampton is visiting two more ridings in Northern Ontario today, including Gilles Bisson’s campaign in Kapuskasing and John Vanthof’s campaign in Kirkland Lake.
“When Dalton McGuinty promises and says anything to get people’s votes, and then breaks all his promises, he’s letting down working families. If you want to make sure Dalton McGuinty doesn’t let you down again, vote NDP,” said Hampton.
“New Democrats represent the interests of hard-working families. We have thoughtful and practical ideas to make peoples’ lives better and more affordable. We don’t sell out our principles on fundamental priorities like keeping health care public and making sure our children get the education they deserve,” he said.
Highlighting McGuinty’s broken promise to provide autism services to Ontario children who need it, Hampton recognized Martel’s outstanding accomplishments in ending government discrimination against children with autism over age six, and highlighting the desperate need to fund Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) treatment.
“Every child who needs IBI autism therapy should have access to it. That’s the only fair thing to do. The NDP will put children and families first by providing publicly funded IBI services in classrooms for all children with autism, and clear the waiting list for autism services,” said Hampton.
As of March 31, 2007, 1,100 children were languishing on waiting lists for autism services. That’s an increase of 1,200 per cent from when the McGuinty Liberals took office. McGuinty even wasted $2.4 million of public money fighting parents in the courts for the right to break his promise.
New Democrats will increase investment in autism by $100 million to provide respite care, to conduct research into the causes of autism and to completely eliminate the waiting list for IBI treatment. No more broken promises. With the NDP, children with autism will finally get the respect and treatment they deserve.
http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/October2007/02/c7570.html
Attention News Editors:
New study shows funding for EAs short $189M - McGuinty's band-aid fix short-changes special needs children
TORONTO, Oct. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - Ontario's faulty school funding formula
resulted in an estimated $189 million funding shortfall for Educational
Assistants (EAs) for the 2006-2007 year, according to a new study by economist
Hugh Mackenzie. Furthermore, the report demonstrates that $20 million in funds
announced by the McGuinty government this past August for improvements in
salary benchmarks has had virtually no impact on the layoffs of Educational
Assistants sweeping boards across the province.
"While the government claimed that its August funding increased salary
benchmarks by 22 per cent, the reality is that EA funding increased by only
2.4 per cent," said Mackenzie, who conducted the study for the Canadian Union
of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, that represents educational support staff
in schools. "To back up its claim, the government would have needed to invest
between $143 million to $183 million, not $20 million, to fix the problem it
said it was fixing," stated Mackenzie.
Mackenzie says the data highlights the parallel universe between the
formula and the reality at the school board level. The funding formula
suggests that there should be nearly 28,000 EA positions in school boards, yet
in 2006-2007, there were barely more than 21,000. Nearly 24% of EAs
contemplated by the funding formula aren't present in the system, says
Mackenzie, because the salaries set by the funding formula are short by 22%
and boards have made up the difference by employing fewer EAs.
"What this study underlines is that, while the Conservatives and
Liberals-the two parties responsible for the state of education funding in
Ontario-carry on a debate about funding religious schools, the faulty funding
formula for which they are both responsible continues to short-change the most
vulnerable students in the province," said Fred Hahn, Secretary-Treasurer of
CUPE Ontario. "Every missing EA is a missed opportunity to make a difference
for students who need extra support." Only the NDP has said they will fix the
funding formula, he added.
This past July, CUPE Ontario released statistics showing that 60 per cent
of school boards were planning to cut jobs, including at least 300 EAs. The
widespread coverage generated by that announcement helped push McGuinty into
an August statement on funding, said Hahn.
"While Mr. McGuinty may have hoped that his August funding announcement
would appease voters, the research presented today shows just how ineffectual
these band-aid solutions are," said Hahn. "The only real solution is to fix
the funding formula, something neither McGuinty nor Tory are prepared to do.
And let's not forget that it was Tory's party that brought in the faulty
formula 10 years ago. That represented an immediate cut of $500 million to the
system in 1997, and shortfalls have continued to get worse over the years."

The EA report presented today is drawn from the results of a forthcoming
broader study of funding for support staff under Ontario's education funding
formula being prepared by Mackenzie for CUPE Ontario.

<<
Backgrounder:
Summary Points in Study

History of Underfunding

- It was 10 years ago that the Conservative government brought in a new
funding formula for schools. It instituted a province-wide cut of
approximately $500 million.
- At that time, special education was funded at a level substantially
below the amount identified by an expert panel as the actual amount
spent by boards in 1997.
- Because funding benchmarks were not generally increased to match
increases in costs, the effective amount of the cut in overall funding
represented by the funding formula increased steadily.
- The McGuinty government has focused on reductions in class sizes and
capital investment to address maintenance backlogs, rather than on
redressing the base funding formula.
- Where the basics of the formula were changed by the Liberals, the
impact was generally revenue-neutral. For example, when benchmark
salaries for teachers were upwardly adjusted, these costs were offset
by reducing funding for students at risk through the Learning
Opportunities Grant, and by eliminating the Local Priorities Amount of
$200 per student.


Funding Shortfalls: Educational Assistants (EAs)

Educational Assistants' Funding vs Actual -- $ Million
------------------------------------------------------
Boards with funding Count of Boards
Year shortfalls for EAs All Boards with shortfalls
2003-4 $ -5.7 50.9 12
2004-5 $ -4.9 40.9 18
2005-6 $ -12.9 23.3 26
2006-7 $ -25.6 -16.9 47

- Funding per EA provided under the funding formula is substantially
below the actual amounts paid by boards to these support staff
personnel.

- The government calculates that its annual funding covers 27,813.6
positions. However, its own Education Finance Information System
(EFIS) shows that boards actually employ 21,091 positions. The reason
is that the salary benchmarks are too low compared to actual costs for
EAs.

- In August 2007, the government claimed that $20 million in increased
funding would fund a 22% increase in salary benchmarks for EAs,
thereby bringing it in line with what school boards actually pay.

- In reality, the Mackenzie study shows that the new funding would
provide a benchmark increase for only 2,943.7 positions.

- To achieve its 22% increase in salary benchmarks for EAs, the McGuinty
government would have had to invest the following:
- $183.5 million, (vs $20 million announced) to cover the government-
funded 27,813 positions
- $143.2 million for 21,091 EAs actually employed by schools
>>


For further information: Valerie Dugale, CUPE Communications, (647)
225-3685; Fred Hahn, CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer, (416) 540-3979; Hugh
Mackenzie, Hugh Mackenzie and Associates, (416) 884-5378
Hampton vows to give autistic kids help they need
The Canadian Press
HANMER, Ont. — The parents of autistic children overwhelmingly supported the Liberals in the 2003 election but after years of broken promises and growing waiting lists for treatment those same voters will be shifting their support elsewhere, New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton said Tuesday.
Hampton was spending the day travelling through northern Ontario and met a group of supporters in Hanmer, about 20 kilometres north of Sudbury, where his wife Shelley Martel has been the provincial representative since 1999.
Martel has been the most outspoken advocate for families struggling to receive the expensive intensive behavioural intervention treatment for autism and has made the NDP synonymous with the cause, Hampton said.
The Liberals, on the other hand, have simply developed a reputation for failing to deliver on promises and letting kids go without the help they desperately need, Hampton said.
"These desperate parents and these vulnerable kids have been among the most deceived and manipulated by Dalton McGuinty of anybody in the province,'' Hampton said.
"People want to know what this election is about? It's about getting justice for these parents and these kids.''
Better access to autism treatment is among Hampton's six major commitments leading up to the Oct. 10 election.
While Martel is not running again for office, she said the NDP caucus is committed to taking on her cause.
Autism was one of several issues Hampton was expected to address while visiting three of the 11 northern ridings on Tuesday.

Plight of autistic children resonates in campaign
KAREN HOWLETT
From Monday's Globe and Mail
October 1, 2007 at 6:06 AM EDT
TORONTO — When Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty wrote a letter in September of 2003 to Nancy Morrison, the mother of an autistic son, he had no way of knowing it would come back to haunt him four years later.
Ms. Morrison had asked all three political leaders during the 2003 election campaign for their party's position on funding the cost of therapy after autistic children reach age 6. She told the leaders she would e-mail their responses far and wide.
Mr. McGuinty promised in the letter to end the previous Progressive Conservative government's "unfair and discriminatory" practice of cutting off funding when children turned 6. "These children need - and deserve - our help and support," the letter says.
The problem for Mr. McGuinty is that Ms. Morrison kept her end of the bargain and he didn't.
Related Articles
Recent
• Tory pledges to break autism treatment logjam
From the archives
• McGuinty's integrity focus of debate
• Hampton pledges to treat all autistic pupils
It was not until two years after he was in office - when the courts ruled in July of 2005 that the province was violating the children's constitutional rights by denying them treatment - that Mr. McGuinty lived up to his promise.
He has the politically savvy activist to thank for the fact that his letter found its way to families as far away as Europe, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand, thrusting services for autistic children into the spotlight in the current election campaign. The topic has been embraced by both the New Democrats and the Progressive Conservatives.
The rising incidence of autism alone does not explain why the issue has been front and centre - the disease affects one in 165 children. It's also because the campaign has revolved around two issues - Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory's contentious plan to fund faith-based schools and Mr. McGuinty's broken promises. The one involving autism was considered so egregious because it involved vulnerable children.
"A lot of people in our community changed their vote to Liberal because of those promises," said Ms. Morrison, the New Democrat candidate in the riding of York-Simcoe. "This was one of his biggest broken promises."
Mary Anne Chambers, who served as the Liberal Minister of Children and Youth Services, said her party more than tripled annual spending on autism services to $140-million, doubled the number of children receiving intensive behavioural intervention therapy and dramatically reduced the waiting list for assessing children. There are 900 children on the waiting list.
The IBI therapy, a system of behaviour modification to teach autistic children language skills and how to play appropriately, costs an average of $70,000 a year for each child.
But even Ms. Chambers conceded that autism has generated more than its share of interest in the current campaign.
"It's a little bit of an interesting one, to say the least," she said in an interview. "It's one of those things that has a very political character to it."
Mr. McGuinty's letter has been quoted repeatedly by Ms. Morrison and other parents at rallies and at the provincial legislature, who have reminded politicians repeatedly of the emotional and financial toll autism takes on families.
Ms. Morrison said she and her husband have nearly gone broke refinancing their home in Bradford, Ont., to pay for treatment for their eight-year-old son, Sean, who spends mornings at home with his IBI therapist and afternoons in a Grade 4 classroom.
Sean is of average to above-average intelligence, Ms. Morrison said. "We just need to work at getting it out of him."

VOTE NDP TO MAKE SURE DALTON MCGUINTY DOESN’T LET DOWN WORKING FAMILIES AGAIN, SAYS HAMPTON
location: Hanmer
date: October 2, 2007 - 8:00am
body:
Ontario NDP Leader Howard Hampton and outgoing NDP Nickel Belt MPP Shelley Martel hosted a high-energy momentum breakfast with NDP Candidates France Gélinas (Nickel Belt) and Dave Battaino (Sudbury) this morning. With just eight days to go, Hampton is visiting two more ridings in Northern Ontario today, including Gilles Bisson’s campaign in Kapuskasing and John Vanthof’s campaign in Kirkland Lake.
“When Dalton McGuinty promises and says anything to get people’s votes, and then breaks all his promises, he’s letting down working families. If you want to make sure Dalton McGuinty doesn’t let you down again, vote NDP,” said Hampton.
“New Democrats represent the interests of hard-working families. We have thoughtful and practical ideas to make peoples’ lives better and more affordable. We don’t sell out our principles on fundamental priorities like keeping health care public and making sure our children get the education they deserve,” he said.
Highlighting McGuinty’s broken promise to provide autism services to Ontario children who need it, Hampton recognized Martel’s outstanding accomplishments in ending government discrimination against children with autism over age six, and highlighting the desperate need to fund Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) treatment.
“Every child who needs IBI autism therapy should have access to it. That’s the only fair thing to do. The NDP will put children and families first by providing publicly funded IBI services in classrooms for all children with autism, and clear the waiting list for autism services,” said Hampton.
As of March 31, 2007, 1,100 children were languishing on waiting lists for autism services. That’s an increase of 1,200 per cent from when the McGuinty Liberals took office. McGuinty even wasted $2.4 million of public money fighting parents in the courts for the right to break his promise.
New Democrats will increase investment in autism by $100 million to provide respite care, to conduct research into the causes of autism and to completely eliminate the waiting list for IBI treatment. No more broken promises. With the NDP, children with autism will finally get the respect and treatment they deserve.
Google alert
http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070927/autism_diet_070927/20070928?hub=Health
Experts suggest link between autism and diet
Updated Fri. Sep. 28 2007 10:31 AM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Autism experts descended upon Parliament Hill Thursday, calling for more research to be conducted into the possible link between a specialized diet and the developmental disability.
Many parents have reported anecdotal evidence suggesting that a dairy and gluten-free diet may reduce the symptoms of autism.
Fannie Decaria says at one point her son, Guilio could hardly speak. Then she cut wheat protein and dairy out of his diet and she saw improvement within days.
"I swear, within a week my son started to speak more," she told CTV News.
Actress Jenny McCarthy wrote a book discussing the success she's having in feeding her autistic son a diet free of gluten, wheat and dairy products.
Critics say stories such as McCarthy's amount to nothing more than anecdotal evidence, and aren't backed by any credible scientific evidence. But some experts took their message to Parliament Hill on Thursday, arguing that autism is a public health crisis that deserves more study.
"I think what we are looking at is a transition from a behaviour disorder and brain disorder to a whole body condition," Dr. Martha Herbert of the Harvard Medical School told a press conference.
Herbert and some experts say it's time to conduct scientific research into finding out if there's something more to the anecdotal evidence. They want more money to study the link between processes in the gastro-intestinal system and behaviour.
It's research that Derek McFabe of the University of Western Ontario has already started. He says that his studies of rats suggest that there may be an indirect link between some food and autism.
Officials with Autism Canada say that with an increasing number of children are diagnosed with autism, studying diet and the disease is crucial.
Researchers hope that more research will give parents of autistic children more information to decide if they should switch their child's diet.
McCarthy said she noticed that her son's eye contact and vocabulary noticeably improved within weeks as a result of being on the wheat and gluten-free diet. The children's cartoon "SpongeBob SquarePants" did not usually connect with her son Evan, but when he laughed at something "very abstract and funny" while watching it, McCarthy said she knew it was important.
"That was my big moment ... I call it kind of opening the window and pulling him out of the world of autism," McCarthy told CTV's Canada AM.
With a report from CTV's Genevieve Beauchemin
Nancy Morrison will be Howard's guest on his talk show TODAY at noon on CFRB (not tomorrow), simulcast on St Catharines CKTB and CJBK in London.

Sam Yassine will be interviewed on a radio news show TODAY. The station is http://www.570news.com/shows/jeffallan.jsp f you scroll down the page a little you will see the announcement for the interview. Listeners are encouraged to call at 10:30 am to participate 519-570-2545 or Free: 1-800-570-5715 On Your Cell: *570


------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Globe

Autism treatment delay will cost votes, says Hampton
Globe and Mail Update
October 2, 2007 at 12:08 PM EDT
HANMER, Ont. — New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton says a broken promise regarding treatment for autistic children will cost the Liberals votes in the election.
Speaking today in Hanmer, about 20 kilometres north of Sudbury, Mr. Hampton said desperate parents voted for the Liberals in 2003 based solely on promises to improve access to expensive treatment.
But the NDP leader said parents were left disappointed as waiting lists for the treatments grew and hundreds of kids went without help.
Better access to autism treatment is among Mr. Hampton's six major commitments leading up to the Oct. 10 election.
He says the work of his wife and fellow New Democrat Shelley Martel in raising awareness of autism issues will convince parents to shift their support to his party and away from the Liberals.
While Ms. Martel is not running again for office, she says the NDP caucus is committed to taking on her cause.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CTV.CA

Angry voter confronts Tory for backtracking
toronto.ctv.ca
A day after he softened his controversial stance on funding religious schools, Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory got an earful from a Conservative voter who was angered by the sudden backtracking.
Jim Devine confronted Tory on Tuesday morning during a campaign stop in Toronto, where the leader was speaking about phasing out the province's unpopular health tax.
"You also had said that you believe in segregating schools, then halfway through that you suddenly changed and said, 'No, we'll have a free vote,'" Devine charged inside a suburban grocery store.
Tory took exception to the "segregation" claim, and said he changed his tune after listening to constituents.
"Allowing for the free vote and talking about it before the election is exactly what (Liberal Leader Dalton) McGuinty did not do (before raising taxes)," he said.
On Monday, Tory announced he would, if elected premier, allow a free vote in the legislature on his funding proposal for faith-based schools.
Tory said his plan to spend $400 million to bring private religious schools into the public education system will only proceed after extensive public consultation.
The about-face came nine days before the Oct. 10 election. Tory's election campaign has been hindered by the proposal, which has been widely unpopular among voters and even created divisions within his own party.
Tory says he is going to spend the remaining week talking about issues such as taxes, jobs and health care.
At a campaign stop in Goderich, McGuinty questioned Tory's leadership.
"Now what he lacks the courage to do immediately, he plans to do by stealth. Just like he's demonstrated bad judgment in the past, he continues to show bad judgment," McGuinty said.
NDP Leader Howard Hampton said it's a shame so much attention has been paid to the religious schools issue when the province has other serious concerns.
"I think it's a travesty in Ontario that we've become the child poverty capital of Canada and the issue hardly gets raised, hardly gets any attention," he said in Hanmer, in northern Ontario.
McGuinty touts health care record
McGuinty spent Tuesday touting his party's health care record, and vowed more Ontario residents will have a family doctor if he is re-elected.
He said 500,000 more people have a family doctor now since he came into power in 2003. McGuinty says he could double that number with another term in office.
The Liberal leader also pledged to add 50 family health teams to provide a range of services -- many of them in rural areas. He said 150 such teams have been created during his mandate.
McGuinty said his health-care premium, which costs residents up to $900 a year, is the sacrifice taxpayers have made to guarantee a strong medical system.
"The reasons again that we've got all those nurses, all those doctors, that we're building hospitals, is because (Ontarians) are making sacrifices," he said.
Hampton vows to better autistic treatment
Hampton, meanwhile, promised parents of autistic children his party will help families struggling to receive the expensive intensive behavioural intervention treatment.
He said McGuinty has failed to deliver on promises he made for autism care four years ago.
"These desperate parents and these vulnerable kids have been among the most deceived and manipulated by Dalton McGuinty of anybody in the province,'' Hampton said.
"People want to know what this election is about? It's about getting justice for these parents and these kids.''
The NDP leader promises to spend $100 million annually for children with autism and clear the wait period for treatment. The plank is one of his six major commitments leading up to the election.
With a report from CTV's Paul Bliss and files from The Canadian Press

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Star

Hampton attacks bank tax breaks

Oct 02, 2007 10:08 AM
Richard Brennan
STAFF REPORTER

SUDBURY - NDP Leader Howard Hampton turned his guns on big banks and insurance companies today, saying it's “deplorable” that they don't pay their fair share of taxes while working families are hit hard.
In a vintage early morning breakfast speech, Hampton accused Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government of handing out tax breaks to big business, yet single mothers have to dig deep into their pockets to pay the health tax.
Hampton spent the day campaigning in northern Ontario where the NDP holds three of the 11 seats.
Speaking to about 100 party faithful near Sudbury, Hampton emphasized that McGuinty didn't raise taxes on banks and insurance companies, which he says are already getting multi-million dollar tax cuts from the Liberals.
“Those poor impoverished banks, they only had $18.2 billion in profit last year. They need a tax cut from Dalton McGuinty," he said sarcastically, referring to the capital tax that is being phased out.
But Hampton noted that a single-parent mother with two children and an income of $30,000 a year had her income tax increased by 24 per cent because of the controversial so-called health tax the Liberal government imposed.
"Banks and insurance companies should stop whining and start paying some taxes so single-parent moms won't have to carry the weight for them," he said. “I think it is deplorable.”
Knowing that he is not going to form a government, Hampton told reporters his job in this election campaign is to raise the “real issues.”
“Under Dalton McGuinty, Ontario has become the child poverty capital of Canada while at the same time banks and insurance companies are getting multi-million tax breaks. Under Dalton McGuinty, children with autism and their parents have been deceived and manipulated and the McGuinty government still treats them with disdain. I think those are some of the real issues.”
Before the 2003 provincial election, McGuinty, who was then opposition leader, promised parents to dramatically improve treatment but after the election broke that promise and then spent $2.4 million to fight a lawsuit launched by parents.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All autistic kids in Ont. should receive treatment: Hampton
By THE CANADIAN PRESS
2007-10-02
HANMER, Ont. - The parents of autistic children overwhelmingly supported the Liberals in the 2003 election but after years of broken promises and growing waiting lists for treatment those same voters will be shifting their support elsewhere, New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton said Tuesday.
Hampton was spending the day travelling through northern Ontario and met a group of supporters in Hanmer, about 20 kilometres north of Sudbury, where his wife Shelley Martel has been the provincial representative since 1999.
Martel has been the most outspoken advocate for families struggling to receive the expensive intensive behavioural intervention treatment for autism and has made the NDP synonymous with the cause, Hampton said.
The Liberals, on the other hand, have simply developed a reputation for failing to deliver on promises and letting kids go without the help they desperately need, Hampton said.
"These desperate parents and these vulnerable kids have been among the most deceived and manipulated by Dalton McGuinty of anybody in the province," Hampton said.
"People want to know what this election is about? It's about getting justice for these parents and these kids."
Better access to autism treatment is among Hampton's six major commitments leading up to the Oct. 10 election.
While Martel is not running again for office, she said the NDP caucus is committed to taking on her cause.
Autism was one of several issues Hampton was expected to address while visiting three of the 11 northern ridings on Tuesday.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ottawa Citizen

Hampton targets Liberals in battle for Toronto
NDP leader focuses on building on party's gains with urban voters
James Cowan, The National Post
Published: Tuesday, October 02, 2007
TORONTO - Ontario NDP leader Howard Hampton pushed across Toronto on yesterday, staging a string of events in the city that has become his party's stronghold.
"This election is about fairness for cities like Toronto," Mr. Hampton told a crowd at an uptown coffee shop during his second stop in an 11-hour blitz across the city.
Mr. Hampton had nothing new to say to Toronto voters as he returned to familiar themes like hiking the minimum wage and providing more money for children with autism.
But the leader's continued focus on Toronto highlights how important the city is to his party. While the Liberals control the vast majority of Toronto seats, half of Mr. Hampton's 10-member caucus represents ridings within the city's limits.
Furthermore, the NDP has been emboldened by a string of byelection victories since the 2003 vote, including an upset win in York-South Weston. The NDP claimed the seat in February after the retirement of Joe Cordiano, a former Liberal cabinet minister.
The NDP now contends there is no such thing as a safe Liberal seat in Toronto and has begun a push to turn its byelection momentum into long-term growth.
Mr. Hampton said the Liberals have failed to support Toronto's low-income families. He used his first campaign stop yesterday to trumpet his party's plan to hike the minimum wage to $10 per hour, a promise the NDP believes helped them win York-South Weston.
In February, the Liberal government increased the minimum wage to $8 per hour, up from $7.75. It also promised to continue hiking the wage by 75 cents each year until the minimum wage reaches $10.25 in 2010. But Mr. Hampton said the Liberals are making low-income families wait for relief while also voting to increase MPPs' salaries by more than $22,000 annually and the premier's salary by more than $37,000 each year.
"Dalton McGuinty's pay hike alone was almost twice as much as the average Ontario woman gets paid in a whole year," Mr. Hampton said.
--------------------------------------------------------
Windsor Star
Make McGuinty answer for promises unkept
Letter
Published: Monday, October 01, 2007
If Dalton McGuinty has proven anything over the past four years, it's that his word means nothing. From his promise to support children with autism and his promises not to raise taxes and to close coal-fired power plants by this year, McGuinty has continually shown that what he says and what he does are two different things. Enough is enough. It is about time that we show Dalton McGuinty that the citizens of Ontario will not tolerate being lied to. We expect a leader to keep the promises he makes.
Brian Cowell
Tecumseh
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Simcoe News
Shining a Light on Autism
October 02, 2007
Their fight has made it onto Ontario’s provincial election radar – and parents of children with autism lit candles Monday night to remind themselves to be vigilant in the fight to equip their children to shine.
Gathered outside MPP Joe Tascona’s downtown Barrie constituency office, the group included parents, siblings, friends and neighbours of families affected by autism, a complex neurological disorder that affects language, behaviour and social skills. Its incidence continues to rise, with one in every 150 children affected; a decade ago, incidence was pegged at one in 1,000.
“Every individual with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder has the right to shine,” said Tanya Stephenson, whose five-year-old son, Tyler, has autism.
“Each of you is making a difference. We are beginning to be seen. We’re being heard and we’re making sure those we love with autism will be seen and heard.”
Joining in the sunset vigil was Lynne Watt, a neighbour and friend of the DeCarlo family. Cindy and Sergio DeCarlo have a son, Mitchell, who has autism.
“There’s a gap that needs to be filled for care and services for these children,” said Watt.
“With the efforts of the DeCarlos, change has happened.”
On the provincial campaign trail, and even locally, candidates have sparred over the treatment of how both the Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments have treated children with autism. For years, access to an intensive behaviour program was limited to children ages six and under.
After court challenges, the government finally opened access to the therapy – which costs about $50,000 per year per child – to those over age six.
The specialized therapy has been shown to assist children with autism learn to talk and to gain social skills, regardless of their chronological age. The success of therapy most often relates to mental age, and many children with Autism Spectrum Disorders have mental ages lower than six years, although they may be chronologically older.

The AFA’s volunteer in Ottawa’s posting to her group.


A special thank you to those who participated and/or were present at last nights province wide Candle Light Vigil on behalf of children and adults living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It was a night of Autism Awareness for the month of October. It was also a time to celebrate those special people who bring such joy and responsibility in our lives.

The media took pictures of the group and I was interviewed by the A channel and Metro Ottawa. Nepean This Week will have an article as well. Check out the coverage. The Metro had a full page picture.

MPP Jim Watson's office had a candle in their office window for us and their representatives were present.

I give thanks that these days I can mention the word Autism to the general public and many people now know what it is and can understand - so different from 5 years ago. More professionals and parents are increasingly aware of the signs and symptoms of autism and thus early intervention can be started.

Warmest Regards,

Bonita Miedema

*********
One mom's anguish; 'I thought I put him in a place where he would be safe'
Posted By TRACY McLAUGHLIN
Posted 15 hours ago
It broke her heart when she had to leave her autistic son in a group home. But when she learned that one year later he was sexually molested while he was there, it crushed her.
"I thought I put him in a place where he would be safe," said the mother, who can not be identified to protect the identity of her son.
This week, following a three-week trial, a jury found a night worker at the group home guilty of 14 counts of sexual assault after molesting, or anally raping 11 victims who lived in group homes run by the Barrie and District Association for People with Special Needs .
Joseph Cross, 37, will be sentenced Dec. 10 for his crimes. During his trial, the mother sat with a broken heart as she watched a two-hour video tape of Cross offering up a full confession to police. He told how he would creep into the bedrooms at night and remove the pajama bottoms and diapers of his victims and rape them when he worked there in 1997 and 1998.
"I can't live with the guilt anymore," he told the police officer. Cross had come straight from the psychiatric ward where he was a voluntary patient being treated for depression when he gave that confession. But, soon after his arrest, he had a change of heart and told police it wasn't true.
He told them it was "voices" in his head that ordered him to make the false confession. He told them the voice made him do it so he would have to go to prison where he would be killed.
But the jury didn't buy his story. Neither did the mothers of his victims.
"It was a crock," said the mother, holding her son's first pair of baby booties.
She remembers how hard it was to give her child up to the group home. Autistic and mentally handicapped, he was prone to bouts of violence and tantrums.
"He would go to his room and knock the dresser over. Smash things. Pull my hair."
At 13, he was getting leaner and stronger, although mentally he was at the level of a four-year-old.
She remembers the day she dropped him off at the group home.
"It was horrible. Horrible," she said. "It broke my heart and it broke his."
But he learned to adjust to his new surroundings and slowly learned to trust his group home counselors. Until the following year when things started to go wrong in the night.
"I knew something was wrong," says the mother. "A mother has a gut feeling."
But her son, sometimes verbal but who can not carry on a two-way conversation, couldn't tell her that he was afraid of the man in the dark.
There were other victims far more helpless. Some were in wheelchairs, unable to speak or even turn away from the man in the dark. In the video, Cross tells how he would talk to his victims - tell them how his stepfather did the same to him.
In court this week, as the jury foreman read out the guilty verdict, the mothers of the victims broke down and wept in court.
"It was like it meant it was really true," said another mother. "We knew, but hearing the verdict just put the reality in black and white. It burdens you with guilt."
Guilt, mixed with anger after learning that Cross, his wife, and his mother-in-law, jointly launched a $2.5-million lawsuit against Soldiers' Memorial Hospital in Orillia for allowing Cross off the psychiatric ward to go to police.
Hospital officials were unable to comment on the pending lawsuit, yesterday.
"With the guilty verdict, I would hope it will be dropped," said the mother.
Now they wait for the sentencing day to find out what the justice system will do.
"Let him fry," said mom. "You don't hurt my child and get away with it."

From Autism Ontario.


>Ontario Election 2007
>
>It's not too late to find out your candidates' viewpoints on autism.
>First, check out website (www.autismontario.com
> ) to see if your candidates have
already
>responded. If they haven't, use the sample email provided (under
>Additional Election Resources on the bottom of the main Elections
page)
>to ask them to respond. We are keeping a running tally of responses so
>be sure to check back to our Election section often. Lastly, don't
>forget to vote. Advance polls are open now.
>
>
>
>2007 Summer Camp Support Fund
>
>The program for 2007 is now closed and we are no longer receiving
>applications. By extending the application deadline to September 30,
>2007, many more families were able to complete the necessary
paperwork.
>Thank you for your assistance in getting the word out to as many
>families as possible.
>
>
>
>A Letter from the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL)
>
>Dear Parent / Guardian
>
>In November 2007, the Canadian Association for Community Living (CACL)
>will be releasing a national Report Card on Inclusion - a report that
>will comment on how well we are doing, as a country, with respect to
>inclusion in the areas of Deinstitutionalization, Disability Supports,
>Family Supports, and Education. In November 2008, at the 50th
>anniversary of our national association, we will be releasing a more
>comprehensive report that will speak to our national performance in
each
>of the 10 Goals in our 10 Year Agenda.
>
>
>
>We want to make sure the report card is accurate and reflective of the
>voices of people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
In
>order to do this we need your help. Access to accurate, reliable and
>comparable information on the education of students with intellectual
>disabilities is extremely difficult. In order to obtain reliable and
up
>to date information on the educational experiences of children and
youth
>with disabilities and their families, a survey has been developed and
is
>available for completion on-line. This survey is short (can be
completed
>in less than 10 minutes) and is completely anonymous.
>
>
>
>The data obtained from the survey will be critical in painting a
picture
>on the national status of education for students with intellectual
>disabilities, the extent to which it presents as an inclusive
>experience, and the extent to which families are satisfied with this
>experience.
>
>
>
>The survey can be accessed at:
>http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=PBiTxo3P0ApmO3aHwpXaVA_3d_3d
>
>
>
>If your son / daughter is of school age we would ask that you take a
few
>minutes to complete this survey. Your participation in this survey is
>critical to ensuring that our report on Education is based on real and
>up to date experiences of children and their families. If you know of
>other families who have school aged children with disabilities please
>feel free to share with request with them also.
>
>
>
>We thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter. If you
>should have any questions regarding the survey please contact Anna
>MacQuarrie at amacquarrie@cacl.ca.
>
>
>
>Again our thanks.
>
>
>
>Tell Us Your Story! The Canadian Association for Community Living
would
>like to hear from you. We are developing a National Report Card on
the
>status of people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
As
>part of CACL's 10-year, 10 goal agenda, our first National Report Card
>will be issued in November 2007 and will focus on four key areas:
>deinstitutionalization, disability supports, family supports and
>inclusive education.
>
>
>
>The stories will be highlighted in our on-line National Report Card
and
>may also be profiled in the printed version issued in November 2007.
We
>are looking for stories that reflect your experience with one of these
>four areas.
>
>
>
>We want stories from a range of people that illustrate the successes
and
>challenges of inclusion in these four areas. We want to hear from
>people with an intellectual disability, family members, teachers,
>employers, community members etc. Inclusion touches all of us and we
>want stories to give us as many perspectives on inclusion as possible.
>
>
>
>To help you get started here are some ideas for sharing your story:
>
>* Introduce yourself and tell us a bit about who you are and
>what your connection to inclusion is
>
>* Tell us how you feel about one (or more) of the four key
>areas:
>
>o Deinstitutionalization
>
>o Disability Supports
>
>o Family Supports
>
>o Inclusive Education
>
>* Share your successes and accomplishments as they relate to
one
>(or more) of the four key areas
>
>* Tell us about the struggles, obstacles or barriers that you
>have faced that relate to one (or more) of the four key areas
>
>* Let us know what changes you would make to ensure inclusion
is
>a reality for all people with an intellectual disability.
>
>How to Share Your Story - To be part of providing a voice to our
>National Report Card on Inclusion, email your story to Anna
MacQuarrie,
>amacquarrie@cacl.ca before October 31, 2007.
>
>
>
>Research Study Looking for Participants
>
>Dr. Rutherford and Brenda Johanson are involved in a study at McMaster
>University to find an early diagnostic tool for autism based on social
>cognitive and social perceptual skill development. We are using
>eyetracker technology to measure the interest displayed by babies
>with/without a family history of autism when shown pictures and videos
>of social stimuli. Similar studies are being conducted at Yale child
>Study Centre. The study is noninvasive, less than 20 minutes in length
>and the parents are with their children at all times. (Full letter
>attached.)
>
>
>
>


From a support group member-from another E-List
Merrill's Fund
Raising awareness for Autism Service Dogs.
« The first trips in public. | Main | About Autism »
About Autism Assistance Dogs
We realize that Autism in general and Autism Assistance Dogs in particular are so new to the general community knowledge, and hopefully we answer some of your questions as to what these dogs do. A dog that passes the Canine Good Citizenship testing may be trained to accompany a handicapped person into public places. To become Street Certified means that they are able to assist their human in public without commotion, and with safety of their human in mind.
While similar to a seeing eye dog, Autism Assistance Dogs differ in that they are mainly for emotional support - by simply being there, a solid, never faltering companion, they can help ease Sensory Overload, which is very common for those with Autism. Autistic people are often unable to filter out sensory input - they hear everything, feel everything, smell everything, all at once and are unable to "ignore" or "let it go" those stimuli. By simply walking next to a child, an Autism Assistance Dog can help by giving them a focal point, or a way to ground their random, unceasing environmental experiences.
Another aspect that makes an Autism Assistance Dog so very special is the ability to tether a child's harness to the dog's harness to prevent the child from bolting in public. Most Autistic children have no concept of personal safety, and will often wander outdoors and into traffic. This is a trained ability that starts with simply wearing a cape, then a harness, then a harness with a handle that the child holds while walking, and finally a tether that prevents the child from slipping away. Often the dog may turn 5 years old before entrusted to be tethered, and there is always an adult holding another leash.
Most of an Autism Assistance Dog's life is about just being there - being tolerant of a child that never "grows up," makes crazy noises, may not speak, and may prefer to watch the same video 47 times in a row every morning before breakfast.
This is not to say that an Autism Assistance Dog does nothing but work - there is a lot of free time, play time, and down time. All the training is based on rewards and food treats, and there are very specific cues. When the vest (or harness) goes on, it's time to work. When it comes off, it's ok to be a dog who drools and chases a ball. There are people in the community that will stop you to pet your head every morning, and others that will come over to throw the ball for you in the evening. There is a warm bed with your favorite Autistic child to sleep at the foot of (or on the pillows!) every night. It does take hard work, but there are many rewards in terms of food, toys, attention, and love.
Trained Assistance Dogs can be the link between an Autistic child and the world around them. Instead of stares and mutters of a spoiled child, a service dog can alert the public that this child is a little different. By showing that interactions with other people are a positive thing, a service dog can help with the gross delays many Autistic children have being in public or crowds. Just being there all day, in all places with the child, an assistance dog can lend far more support that any one person or parent can offer by themselves.
Posted on July 24, 2007 3:47 PM | Permalink

From a listmate’s E-list

Attention News/Assignment Editors:

MEDIA ADVISORY-- ONTARIO AUTISM COALITION TO REVEAL ELECTION REPORT
CARD

TORONTO, Oct. 3 / - Tomorrow, the Ontario Autism Coalition ('OAC")
will release a report card evaluating the performance of Ontario's
major political parties in relation to autism services. The OAC will be
joined by the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis, and by the
Campaign for Public Education.


WHO: Laura Kirby-McIntosh, co-founder, Ontario Autism Coalition
Dr. James Porter, President, ONTABA
Chris Glover, Campaign for Public Education

WHEN: Thursday, October 4, 2007 - 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: Delta Chelsea Hotel, Whistler Room, 3rd Floor
33 Gerrard Street West, Toronto
(use the "Red Bank" elevators)


The Ontario Autism Coalition ('OAC') is a grassroots parent
advocacy group, dedicated to improving the quality of services available to
children with autism. Formed in 2005, the OAC has organized over 20
rallies to draw public attention to the need for publicly funded programs
that effectively meet the needs of individuals in the Autism community.
We have met with countless government policy advisors, senior
provincial Cabinet Ministers and M.P.P.'s to make our case. The OAC has made a
concerted effort to make autism a key part of this election campaign.
We held a Day of Action on September 15th, with rallies in six
different cities, and representatives from the OAC have attended several
campaign events throughout the election. We have over 15 videos posted on
our website, www.ontarioautismcoalition.com.

For further information, contact:

Laura Kirby-McIntosh, co-founder
416-315-7939 (cell)

-30-
By CHRISTINA BLIZZARD
October 4, 2007
Howard Hampton is that quintessential all-Canadian combination of brains and brawn. He has a law degree -- and gritty hockey-player tenacity.
The New Democratic Party leader is the scrappy kid from Fort Frances -- a hardscrabble mill town in northwestern Ontario -- who put himself through Ivy League's Dartmouth College on a scholarship by playing hockey. His brother still works in the mill.
Hampton's debating skills are legendary. He runs rings around the other leaders when he talks issues.
Hampton dropped by Sun Media's editorial board yesterday and was, as usual, passionate and driven in his beliefs. In a frank and wide-ranging exchange, Hampton displayed resigned disbelief that voters may be poised to give the Liberals another majority government and wry frustration with Progressive Conservative leader John Tory. In exasperation he even suggested he may not be the person with the answers on how to pull the NDP out of the political doldrums.
You always run a good campaign, we pointed out.

"Yeah and so what?" he responded, with a shrug. It still doesn't win him support in the polls.
Recent polls show voter support moving to Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty.
"What do you say to those voters," we asked.
"What do I say? I say people get the government they deserve," Hampton said, and pointed out in the last election, he'd raised the issue that holding McGuinty accountable was like nailing Jell-O to the wall. It turned out he was right.
New Democrats have been collateral damage in a campaign that has largely been dominated by the religious school issue. Hampton said in the first two weeks of the campaign, both the Tories and the Liberals were happy to talk about that issue because it helped them avoid the real issue of fixing the school funding formula.
"It meant John Tory didn't have to address the issue of school funding, which he doesn't want to talk about because they messed it up in the first place.
"And Dalton McGuinty didn't have to talk about it because he hasn't fixed it," he said. And he joked it's led him to consider extreme measures
"What can I say? I tried in the leaders' debate to get on to the real issues. I have tried since day one to get on to the real issues. It hasn't worked.
"I don't know what else I can do. Walk naked down Yonge St.?"
And he expressed stunned disbelief at the PC campaign platform. When there were so many issues around promise-breaking and the so-called Slushgate grants scandal, Hampton can't fathom why Tory put faith-school funding in his platform.
"I will never understand who is giving John Tory advice. There were a lot of good issues to raise in the election. I will never understand why Mr. Tory wanted to make himself the issue in the election.
"I just don't get it, but it's given Dalton McGuinty a free ride."
Hampton pointed out provincial Ombudsman Andre Marin has raked the government over the coals over mismanagement -- and voters seem to have forgotten issues like the lottery scandal, the property tax assessment boondoggle and a scathing report on children's aid societies.
"You can hand out $1 million to a cricket club at the same time that the waiting list for children for autism skyrockets through the roof. You can have a minister responsible for lotteries who says, 'I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing and I never ask even a dumb question,' and all that goes by the wayside," he said.
"It is a government that has tried every which way it could to avoid dealing with issues that needed to be dealt with."
Hampton saved his most scathing condemnation for the way McGuinty has mismanaged the economy in northwestern Ontario.
Thunder Bay has been hard hit with the loss of several mills and 43,000 direct and indirect jobs in the forest sector have been destroyed -- largely as a result of the Liberals' hydro policy that sets the price of electricity at 7c a kilowatt hour, twice what it is in Manitoba and Quebec.
Yet ironically, northern Ontario has a surplus of some of the cheapest electricity in the world.
"Kenora is drowning in the lowest cost electricity in the world," Hampton pointed out, yet companies like Abitibi moved out because just down the river in Manitoba, costs are cheaper.
"Workers in Kenora could have worked for free and they still wouldn't have been able to make up that difference."
On municipal issues, Hampton says court security costs and transit costs should be uploaded to the province.
"You can't fund transit off the property tax and the fare box. Property tax doesn't have the resources and if you do it off the fare box you will force up the cost so high you will lose a whole lot of the riders that you want and need to use it," he said.
As for his future and that of the party, Hampton was characteristically frank.
"Maybe I am the wrong person, I don't know. I have racked my brain," he said.
Bold statements from a painfully honest man. When was the last time you heard that in politics?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
On the outside looking in
Oct 04, 2007 04:30 AM
________________________________________
Campaign snapshot
Photo, Oct. 1
________________________________________
The Star published a picture of people with disabilities who were denied access to a Sept. 30 political debate in Don Valley West, which was held in a high school. Who notices that students with disabilities are excluded every day of the year? Ironically, politicians inside that school were defending educational inclusion and fairness, but they were only talking about religious schools.
Effective, inclusive education is about a lot more than wheelchair access. The Star's Oct. 1 summary of special education issues mentioned only a controversial treatment relating to a small number of young children with autism. This distracts us from the much greater problem.
Last year, the Ministry of Education looked at samples of individual education plans (IEPs) hand-picked by every school board in Ontario. Serious deficiencies were discovered – many of the same problems they found five years earlier. About 14 per cent of Ontario's kids – almost 300,000 students – have IEPs but still might not receive the accommodations and modifications to which they are entitled.
Education funding is set by the province. School boards say there is never enough special education money. The students caught in the middle may be scarred for life. Successive Ontario governments have promised us that educational opportunities will be the same no matter where we live in Ontario. Which political party will ensure that all school boards obey the law and implement provincial policy?
We need leadership to ensure access and promote success – now – for every young Ontario citizen in our publicly funded schools.
Marilyn Dolmage, Toronto
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Star

Limelight not the spot for Tory

Oct 03, 2007 04:30 AM
Conservative Leader John Tory has become the focal point of the provincial election campaign, and this is worrisome for him.
Opposition leaders do not usually command centre stage in elections, which more commonly revolve around the premier of the day and his government's record.
Even Mike Harris avoided the spotlight in the 1995 election until very near the end of the campaign.
Notwithstanding Harris's radical platform (the "common sense revolution"), the focus stayed on then-premier Bob Rae and the "social contract" imposed on public sector unions by his NDP government.
In his memoir, From Protest to Power, Rae reports his frustration at trying to get erstwhile union allies to stop attacking him, given that Harris was winning the election and was likely to implement an anti-labour agenda.
Rae called Leah Casselman, then president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, to ask her to call off the OPSEU hecklers who were dogging his every campaign appearance.
"You're the government now," Rae reports Casselman as saying, "You'll have to live with the consequences."
"No, actually, Leah, you will," responded Rae.
Sixteen thousand cashiered civil servants later, Rae's forecast was proven to be accurate.
I digress.
In this campaign, one might presume that Premier Dalton McGuinty would be facing most of the fire over his broken promises – whether from outraged taxpayers or parents of autistic children or drivers on the 407. But it isn't so. Rather, it is Tory who is on the firing line, with his proposal to extend public funding to "faith-based" schools.
Tory attempted earlier this week to escape the spotlight by saying he would allow a free vote on the schools issue in the Legislature, but that simply increased the intensity of the media coverage.
This sort of attention is not helpful for an opposition leader.
Recall the 2004 federal election, during which Stephen Harper and his "hidden agenda" became the focal point, not then-prime minister Paul Martin and Liberal scandals. Harper lost, although he reduced Martin to a minority.
And recall the 2000 federal election, when Stockwell Day was leader of the opposition and became an object of ridicule. ("The Flintstones was a cartoon.") Day lost, badly, to Jean Chrétien's Liberals.
This is not to suggest that Tory is Harper or Day, although he might be a reincarnation of Bob Stanfield, the opposition leader who fell in the 1974 federal election when his proposal for wage-and-price controls became the central issue. Then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau effectively mocked that policy with the memorable line, "Zap, you're frozen."
Like Stanfield, Tory is a thoroughly decent man who combines compassion for the disadvantaged with a managerial approach to problem-solving.
Yesterday, Tory became the first provincial Conservative leader in two decades to appear before the Star's editorial board during an election campaign – and he delivered a bravura performance.
Speaking of his concern for the disadvantaged in society, Tory said: "I don't think my mission in life is to come here and help people who are comfortable."
Of the attention garnered by his faith-based schools proposal, Tory said: "You're assuming that I made it a big issue. Every single day I talked about other issues."
Unfortunately for Tory, however, when the opposition leader is the story in an election campaign, it is usually not good news.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Globe
Hampton eyes a northern swing
MICHAEL OLIVEIRA
Canadian Press
October 2, 2007 at 3:47 PM EDT
KAPUSKASING, Ont. — New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton says his party is poised to make gains in northern Ontario because he's the only party leader talking to average people in working-class communities.
Mr. Hampton spent Tuesday hopping from plane to plane to visit three of the province's 11 northern ridings.
The vast, isolated region covers 90 per cent of the province but houses only 6 per cent of the population.
It's Mr. Hampton's fourth visit to northern Ontario, and he says the other parties are paying only cursory attention to northern issues.
Mr. Hampton says he's meeting directly with some of the tens of thousands of people who have lost their jobs in the region while the premier seems afraid of confrontation.
He challenged the other leaders to a debate on northern issues, but Liberal Leader Dalton McGuinty immediately declined.
“I challenged Mr. McGuinty to a debate on northern issues, but since there wasn't a photo-op in the debate he ducked,” Mr. Hampton said at his own photo-op outside the Tembec paper mill in Kapuskasing.
Mr. McGuinty has also been invited to meet with laid-off workers but has repeatedly turned them down, Mr. Hampton said.
“He was invited last summer and the summer before, as saw mill after saw mill, paper mill after paper mill, and pulp mill after pulp mill were closing down,” Mr. Hampton said.
“We believe that workers like these who care about their community and want to continue to work and contribute ... are going to work for somebody who's prepared to work with them, and that's the NDP.”
Earlier Tuesday, Mr. Hampton spoke about autism to a group of supporters in Hanmer, about 20 kilometres north of Sudbury, where his wife Shelley Martel has been the provincial representative since 1999.
Ms. Martel has been the most outspoken advocate for families struggling to receive expensive autism treatment and has made the NDP synonymous with the cause, Mr. Hampton said.
The Liberals, on the other hand, have simply developed a reputation for failing to deliver on promises and letting kids go without the help they desperately need, he said.
“These desperate parents and these vulnerable kids have been among the most deceived and manipulated by Dalton McGuinty of anybody in the province,” Mr. Hampton said.
“People want to know what this election is about. It's about getting justice for these parents and these kids.”
He said the parents of autistic children overwhelmingly supported the Liberals in the 2003 election, but after years of broken promises and growing waiting lists for treatment, those same voters will be shifting their support elsewhere.
Better access to autism treatment is one of Mr. Hampton's six major commitments leading up to the Oct. 10 election.
While Ms. Martel is not running again for office, she said the NDP caucus is committed to taking on her cause.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ottawa Citizen
Premier hammers Tory over faith-based schools flip-flop
Lee Greenberg and Craig Pearson, CanWest News Service
Published: Tuesday, October 02, 2007
GODERICH, Ont. - One day after Ontario's Conservative leader all but dropped a proposal to fund faith-based schools, the issue still dogged John Tory on the campaign trail Tuesday.
Premier Dalton McGuinty launched into an unprompted tirade against Tory in a bid to keep the unpopular issue alive.
"I think Mr. Tory continues to demonstrate bad judgment," McGuinty told reporters at a health clinic in southern Ontario. "He's demonstrated bad judgment in the past. He continues to show bad judgment."
And at a Toronto grocery store Tory - who had hoped to talk about McGuinty's controversial health premium - was forced to defend the controversial schools plan to an irate shopper.
Tory said if elected premier he would eliminate the health tax for one million Ontarians, those earning between $20,000 and $30,000 a year, starting Jan. 1. He stood in front of several carts of groceries worth $900 to illustrate what some families lose to the much-maligned tax.
"What's really important is that people focus on the really important hot issues in the next eight days," Tory said. "And that includes things like the doctor shortage, why kids with autism aren't getting treated, why the economy is languishing on Dalton McGuinty's watch, why millions and billions of our dollars are being wasted and spent improperly."
That's when 64-year-old Scarborough resident Jim Devine cut in from the sidelines at Sun Valley Grocery Store.
"What about the education, sir?" an obviously irritated Devine said, with a security official making sure he didn't approach.
When Tory noted that a Conservative government plans to invest $1 billion in education in the first year and $2.4 billion the second year, Devine - who claims he normally votes PC - kept pushing, criticizing Tory for changing his faith-based stance and calling for a free vote.
Tory's plan to fund faith-based schools dominated debate during the first 21 days of the provincial election campaign.
On Monday, however, Tory climbed down from what he termed his "principled position" by allowing his caucus a free vote on the issue. Observers, including high-ranking Conservatives, say the move all but kills the unpopular proposal, which was hurting them at the polls.
Liberals disagree, however.
McGuinty on Tuesday evoked the possibility of a three-year debate on school funding if Tory is elected.
"Instead of dealing with this matter in an upfront, transparent way, he is now saying that he wants to plunge this province into three years of destruction and distraction," he said. "And now what he lacks the courage to do immediately, he plans to do by stealth."
The comments represent a change in tone from McGuinty, who initially took the high road in responding to the Conservative shift.
On Monday he said he'd "let Ontarians draw their own conclusions about Tory and his judgment."
Conservative campaign officials wonder why McGuinty is now insisting on reviving an issue they had hoped to scuttle. His strongly worded attack was unprompted and came at the end of a scrum where the funding issue was not raised once.
"Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals clearly don't want the campaign spotlight to shine on them, because their record of broken promises looks pretty shabby to voters," said Conservative spokeswoman Ingrid Thompson. "They're desperately trying to keep the focus elsewhere."
McGuinty spent the day on a trip through southern Ontario touting his health care record in several bellwether ridings.
At an afternoon stop in Kitchener he announced a plan to reduce emergency room wait times that will first involve measuring them.
Also on Tuesday, a feud erupted between Ontario's third and fourth-placed parties as the Greens and the NDP scrapped over environmentally friendly voters.
Green Leader Frank de Jong accused the NDP of misrepresenting his party's platform in a bid to retain supporters.
NDP Leader Howard Hampton has repeatedly distorted the Green position on health, electricity, and infrastructure, according to de Jong.
"You would think he is purposefully misinformed," he said in an interview. "It's disingenuous at best and malicious at worst."
Hampton denies he has twisted the Green party's positions.
"I have not mischaracterized their platform one bit," he said during an early morning campaign stop in Sudbury. "I encourage people to read their platform and think about the implications of private water, private electricity and private roads and think about what that would mean for average working people."
De Jong said he has no interest in privatizing public services. He said the Green platform does call for new water levies, but said that does not equate with privatization.
The NDP currently has the support of 17 per cent of voters while the Green party is backed by six per cent, according to a poll conducted late last week on behalf of CanWest News Service.
The Ipsos-Reid survey support for both parties has been stagnant since the start of the election campaign.
According to the survey, McGuinty's Liberals have the support of 43 per cent of decided voters, compared to 33 per cent for Tory's Conservatives.
In the final days of the election, Hampton is clearly trying to focus the debate on issues such as poverty and therapy for children with autism.
The NDP leader made a swing through northern Ontario on Tuesday, promising support for the troubled pulp and paper industry if elected on Oct. 10. He said the NDP would offer cut electricity rates for mills and forestry companies.

******************
From a listmate
Ontario needs 6,000 more to serve disabled, CUPE report says
Oct 04, 2007 04:30 AM
Louise Brown
EDUCATION REPORTER
Ontario schools have 6,000 fewer education assistants than they need to help the province's most needy children, the physically disabled, autistic and students with extreme behavioural problems, according to a report released yesterday by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Despite a $20 million boost in August from Queen's Park to hike the salaries of education assistants, it would take $189 million more for schools to hire the education assistants the funding formula is supposed to provide, said CUPE vice-president Fred Hahn at a news conference in Toronto yesterday.
Only the New Democratic Party has pledged an immediate review of the school funding formula that is short-changing the province's most vulnerable children, he said. The Liberals have promised a review by 2010 and the Progressive Conservatives, who designed the formula, have not set a date for an overhaul.
"The government announced a whole bunch of money for education assistants this summer, which was welcome and it sounded really good, but in reality, it's a fraction of what we need to stem the layoffs of hundreds of education assistants," said Hahn.
A report prepared for CUPE by economist Hugh Mackenzie said Premier Dalton McGuinty pledged $20 million in August to boost the salaries of the education assistants across the province who work with often severely disabled children, as well as kindergarten students in large inner-city classrooms.
"While the funding formula suggests there should be nearly 28,000 education assistants in schools, there are barely 21,000," said Mackenzie, because the province gives school boards much less to pay the workers than the boards actually pay, so school boards make up the difference with layoffs.
CUPE estimates up to 300 educational assistants have been laid off or had their hours reduced in the past year.
"The government claimed it was increasing salary benchmarks by 22 per cent, but it actually works out to only about 2.4 per cent more, which leaves school boards without the funding to actually hire the number they need," said McKenzie.
At Toronto's Beverly School for the disabled, education assistant Bonnie Dineen often is bitten or hit as she works to help students struggling with physical and behavioural challenges. "Many are non-verbal, and our jobs are so important to helping these little kids try to learn in very different ways."
Because of funding cuts, Dineen only works half-time with a class that she used to assist each day.
Said Nancy Arnott, education assistance at Toronto's Sunny View School: "I used to be able to work with (children) on math and academics full-time, but now many education assistants run from class to class helping unload children from buses and juggling academic and personal care."
From a listmate

Campaign snapshot
Photo, Oct. 1
________________________________________
The Star published a picture of people with disabilities who were denied access to a Sept. 30 political debate in Don Valley West, which was held in a high school. Who notices that students with disabilities are excluded every day of the year? Ironically, politicians inside that school were defending educational inclusion and fairness, but they were only talking about religious schools.
Effective, inclusive education is about a lot more than wheelchair access. The Star's Oct. 1 summary of special education issues mentioned only a controversial treatment relating to a small number of young children with autism. This distracts us from the much greater problem.
Last year, the Ministry of Education looked at samples of individual education plans (IEPs) hand-picked by every school board in Ontario. Serious deficiencies were discovered – many of the same problems they found five years earlier. About 14 per cent of Ontario's kids – almost 300,000 students – have IEPs but still might not receive the accommodations and modifications to which they are entitled.
Education funding is set by the province. School boards say there is never enough special education money. The students caught in the middle may be scarred for life. Successive Ontario governments have promised us that educational opportunities will be the same no matter where we live in Ontario. Which political party will ensure that all school boards obey the law and implement provincial policy?
We need leadership to ensure access and promote success – now – for every young Ontario citizen in our publicly funded schools.
Hello, Please find the enclosed info about the international music therapy/music education conference we are organizing next summer. Dr. Amelia Oldfield, our keynote speaker from UK, is specialized with music therapy with autistic children. I hope you can attend this initiative. Heidi

Dr. Heidi Ahonen-Eerikainen,
Associate Professor of Music Therapy,
Director of the Laurier Centre for Music
Therapy Research
International Conference 2008
June 13-15, 2008

Making Connections:
Exploring the relationship between music therapy and music education

MUSIC THERAPY KEYNOTE SPEAKER:
AMELIA OLDFIELD Ph.D.

Dr. Amelia Oldfield has over 27 years' experience as a music therapist. She currently works at the Croft Unit for Child and Family Psychiatry and at the Child Development Centre, Addenbrookes, Cambridge. She was the joint initiator of the two year MA Music Therapy course at Anglia Ruskin University, where she has been a part-time lecturer for the past 13 years. She has completed four research investigations and a PhD. She has written three books as well as a wide range of articles and chapters on various aspects of music therapy. She has also produced six music therapy training videos. She has run workshops and given papers all over Europe and in the USA. She is married, has four children and plays the clarinet in local chamber music groups in Cambridge.

MUSIC EDUCATION KEYNOTE SPEAKER:
LEE BARTEL Ph.D.
Dr. Lee Bartel, University of Toronto, ON. He teaches research methods, music and the brain, evaluation, social psychology, choral music, and alternative methods in secondary music, but he also has expertise in vocal technique, violin & viola techniques, class guitar, and therapeutic use of music. He initiated and directs the Canadian Music Education Research Centre and the Sonic B.R.A.I.N. Laboratory. He is the Chair of the Research Commission of the Canadian Music Educators' Association and senior editor of the CMEA Research to Practice: biennial book series and also edits the monograph series, Research Perspectives in Music Education, produced by the Canadian Music Education Research Centre. He has presented many academic papers and workshops around the world. His varied publications include research articles on music response, curriculum, and pedagogy; edited books on philosophy of music and curriculum; and a guitar text, Get into Guitar, and 35 cd’s in several series including Music for your Health, SonicAid, and Fisher Price. He is anchor for evaluation for a major international educational reform project in Central Asia, under the United Nations. Current research includes the “Face the Music” project focused on music, dance, and artistic gymnastics, and several music and brain studies.
Sponsored and chaired by

Wilfrid Laurier University, Laurier Centre for Music Therapy Research
Dr. Heidi Ahonen-Eerikäinen & Kerry L. Byers

Conference Location
WLU, Faculty of Music, John Aird Building

TARGET AUDIENCE
Researchers in music therapy and music education


FOCUS
This conference will explore the relationship between music therapy and music education from joint collaborative research perspectives.


CALL FOR PAPERS
DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: January 10, 2008.

Making Connections:
Exploring the relationship between music therapy and music education
International Conference

Presented by The Laurier Centre for Music Therapy Research, Wilfrid Laurier University
Co-Chairs: Dr. Heidi Ahonen-Eerikäinen and Kerry L. Byers

WHEN June 13 - 15, 2008 Pre-Conference workshop June 12, 2008

TARGET AUDIENCE
• Researchers in music therapy and music education, teachers and music therapists. Keynote presentation and other presentations have a research focus with practical implications. One hour presentation followed by one hour discussion. Invited haf-day workshops (Sunday) have practical focus.

WHERE The Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

FOCUS It was E.T Gaston (1968) who first stated that the good music educator follows many of the principles and processes of music therapy and the good music therapist follows many of the practices of music education. This conference will explore the relationship between music therapy and music education from joint collaborative research perspectives. Aspects of education can occur in the music therapy process and music educators should be aware of the interpersonal and therapeutic processes that occur in education. Therapy and education lie on a continuum that would suggest each discipline could be affected by each others theoretical and philosophical histories. There has been little evidence to support the notion that formal research initiatives could benefit each profession. The questions become:
• How does each discipline inform the other?
• What are the shared research questions?
• What are the implications of one discipline's research on the other?
• What are the contradictions, and how should they be resolved?
Through key-note presentations, concurrent papers and open discussions similarities and differences will be explored. Future research possibilities will provide a forum for more formal initiatives that could result in future projects for both disciplines.

HOW Submit your proposals, including the information detailed below, to:
hahonen@wlu.ca and Kerry L. Byers at kbyers@uwo.ca
Include:
• Title
• 250 word abstract plus 5-6 discussion questions
• contact name and information (e-mail address, mailing address, phone number)


2008 LCMTR Symposium REGISTRATION FORM for the Symposium Presenters
Name___________________ Degree/profession _____________________
Organization ___________________
Address_________________________
City_______________ State/province____________ ZIP ______________
Phone _____________________(home) Phone _______________________(work)
Fax_____________________ E-mail_____________________

Title of my presentation:

My audiovisual needs:

CONFERENCE FEES for the symposium presenters

Please note that there will be a discounted early registration fee for the SYMPOSIUM PRESENTERS (received prior to Feb 28th, 2008). Conference fee includes coffee, refreshments + reception.

Yes, Register me for the 2008 Symposium:




$200 fee for the Symposium presenters (received prior to Feb 28th, 2008)
$20 Pre-Symposium Tour (Mennonite country farmers market, St. Jacobs) on Thursday, June 12th, 2008
$45 Dinner on Sunday, June 15th
FREE reception on Friday, June 13h.



TOTAL:
$200 (Symposium fee only)
$220 (Symposium fee + Pre-Symposium Tour)
$265 (Symposium fee+ Pre-Symposium Tour+ Dinner)
$245 (Symposium fee+ Dinner)

I will enclose the money order (canadian funds payable to WLU/LCMTR)


Please, charge my Visa



Account# ___________________ Expiration Date: ___________

Signature: __________________

Please, fax this form to Debra Martz-Melanson, Music Therapy Department
fax: 1-519-747-9129. Mailing address: Wilfrid Laurier University, Music Faculty, LCMTR, Debra Martz-Melanson, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3C5
CONFERENCE FEES for non-presenters:
$300 Early Registration (received prior to March 30, 2008)
$270 Full-time students (received prior to March 30, 2008)


$350 Registration after April 1st, 2008
$125 Daily Rate (Day(s): _____________________)

REFUND +CANCELLATION POLICY:
Activities are planned in advance based on the number of registrants. Full refunds cannot be made. 80% of fees will be refunded if the request is postmarked no later than April 25, 2008. No refunds will be made after May 8, 2008, so please plan ahead. Refunds are processed 45 days after the conclusion of the Symposium.

LOCATION+ HOTELS
The symposium will be held at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. www.wlu.ca
Address: 75 University Avenue. John Aird Building, Maureen Forrester Recital Hall.

Symposium attendees may stay at the following hotels, with varying prices. It is advised to book your room as soon as possible.



Comfort Inn, 190 Weber Street, North, Waterloo, 1-800-228-5150, www.choicehotels.ca (Price: $86+/ night)
Waterloo Inn, 475 King Street, North, Waterloo, 1-800-361-4708, www.waterlooinn.com (Price: $169+/ night)
Best Western, 50 Benjamin Road, East, Waterloo, 1-800-528-123, www.stjacobs countryinn.com (Price: $169+/night)
Hotel Laurier, WLU, 75 University Avenue, West, Waterloo, tel: 1-519-884-1970, x2771#, www.wlu.ca (Price $40 +/night. Also apartments (4 people) $120+/night. Please ask blocked bookings for LCMTR Symposium.

AIRPORT TRANSPORTATION

For air travel to Toronto, Pearson International Airport, Ontario, Canada, contact your preferred travel professional.

Driving directions from Airport:

From Toronto Pearson-International airport: Exit airport to expressway 401 West. Then turn Highway #8 Kitchener-Waterloo. Waterloo is about 90 kilometres from the Airport.



Airport Transportation:

Transportation to and from Waterloo and the Toronto, Pearson International Airport is available on www.airwaystransit.com or call 1-519-8862121. You need your flight numbers when booking the transportation. The costs are about $80 per person one- way. There will be group discounts. Service is available 24-hours a day. You may pay with cash or any major credit card.

Tourist attractions:

Toronto, Niagara Falls, St.Jacobs, Mennonite country.


For symposium information and updates send an email to dmartzme@wlu.ca or hahonen@wlu.ca, or call LCMTR 1-519-884-0710, ext. 2658, Debra Martz Melanson,

PLERIMINARY PROGRAMME




Thursday, June 12, 2008

10 am – 5 pm Pre-Conference Workshop

by Dr. Amelia Oldfield
Topic: Music Therapy Assessment with Children with Special Needs
(Extra fee)

10 am – 5 pm Pre-Conference Tour: Mennonite Country Farmers Market, St. Jacobs
(Extra fee)

Friday, June 13, 2008

9:00-10:00 Registration. Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, John Aird Building

8:00-9:00 Coffee + Registration

9:00-10:15 Opening Ceremony (Recital Hall)
Chair: Dr. Heidi Ahonen-Eerikainen, director, LCMTR
Speakers: Dr. Charles Morrison, Dean, Faculty of Music,
WLU representatives (Dr. Blouw, President; Dr.Horton, Vice-President: Academic; Dr. Maxim, Vice-President: Research)
Dr. Heidi Ahonen-Eerikainen, Director of Laurier Centre for Music Therapy Research.
Music:

10:30-11:30 Recital Hall, Foyer:
1. Keynote: Dr. Amelia Oldfield, UK
11:30-12:30 Discussion Chair: Dr. Heidi Ahonen-Eerikainen

Lunch

13:30-14:30 1. Presentation: TBA
14:30-15:30 Discussion Chair: Dr. Colin Lee

Coffee

15:45-16:45 2. Presentation
16:45-17:45 Discussion Chair: Dr. Lee Willingham

18:00- Reception. (Foyer) …Music + finger food…


Saturday, June 14, 2008

8:30-9:00 Registration

9:00-10:15 2. Keynote: Dr. Lee Bartel, Canada
10:15-11:15 Discussion Chair: Dr. Willingham

Lunch

12:45-13:45 3. Presentation:TBA
13:45-14:45 Discussion Chair: Dr. Lee

Coffee

15:15-16:15 4. Presentation: TBA
16:15-17:15 Discussion Chair: Dr. Ahonen-Eerikainen

17:45-18:45 5. Presentation:TBA
18:45-19:45 Discussion Chair: K.L. Byers



Sunday, June 15, 2008

8:30-9:00 Registration

Parallel Sessions (Recital Hall Foyer or Room A221 (2nd floor, right) :

9:00-10:00 Room A221: 6. Presentation: TBA
10:00-11:00 Discussion Chair: Michelle Song

9:00-10:00 Recital Hall Foyer: 7. Presentation
10:00-11:00 Discussion Chair: Liz Mitchell

11:15-12:15 Room A221: 8. Presentation: TBA
12:15-13:15 Discussion Chair: Marc Houde

11:15-12:15 Recital Hall Foyer: 9. Presentation:TBA
12:15-13:15 Discussion Chair: Kerry L. Byers

Lunch

Half-Day Workshops:
14:45-15:45 Room A221: Invited Workshop 1: TBA
15:45-17:45 Discussion Chair: Dr. Willingham

14:45-15:45 Recital Hall Foyer: Invited Workshop 2: Dr. Amelia Oldfield
15:45-17:45 Discussion Chair: Dr. Colin Lee

Coffee

18:00-18:30 Recital Hall Foyer: Closing Ceremony
Closing Discussion Chair: Dr. Ahonen-Eerikainen, K. L. Byers, and
Dr. Willingham
Music: Wilfrid Laurier University MMT students

19:00 Dinner (extra fee $45.00) Restaurant “Kings Trio” 65 University Avenue, East. (Within walking distance. Turn right in front of John Aird Building, two blocks away. )

2008 - Making Connections:
Exploring the relationship between music therapy and music education
LCMTR
REGISTRATION FORM

Name____________________________Degree/profession_______________________
Organization ____________________________________________________________
Address________________________________________________________________
City_______________ State/Province____________ ZIP/Postal Code ______________
Phone _____________________(home) Phone ___________________________(work)
Fax_________________________ E-mail_______________________________

SYMPOSIUM FEES


Conference fee includes coffee, refreshments + reception on Thursday, June 12th!


Yes, Register me for the 2008 Conference:




$300 Early Registration (received prior to March 30, 2008), includes reception on Friday, June 13th.


$270 Full-time students (received prior to March 30, 2008) includes reception on Thursday, June 12th.
$350 Registration after April 1st, 2008. Includes reception on Thursday, June 12th.


$125 Daily Rate (Day(s): _____________________)
$20 Pre-Symposium Tour (Mennonite country farmers market, St. Jacobs) on Thursday, June 12th
$45 Dinner on Sunday, June 15th



TOTAL:
$300 (Symposium fee only if received prior to March 30, 2008)
$320 (Symposium fee + Pre-Symposium Tour)
$365 (Symposium fee+ Pre-Symposium Tour+ Dinner)
$345 (Symposium fee+ Dinner)


Other amount: $ ___________


I will enclose the money order (Canadian funds payable to WLU/LCMTR)


Please, charge my Visa



Account# Expiration Date:
Signature: __________________________________

Please, fax this form to Debra Martz Melanson, Music Therapy Department
fax: 1-519-747-9129. Mailing address: Wilfrid Laurier University, Music Faculty, LCMTR, Debra Martz-Melanson, 75 University Avenue, West, Waterloo, ON Canada N2L 3C5



REFUND +CANCELLATION POLICY:

Activities are planned in advance based on the number of registrants. Full refunds cannot be made. 80% of fees will be refunded if the request is postmarked no later than April 25, 2008. No refunds will be made after May 8, 2008, so please plan ahead. Refunds are processed 45 days after the conclusion of the Symposium.

LOCATION+ HOTELS

The symposium will be held at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. www.wlu.ca
Address: 75 University Avenue. John Aird Building, Maureen Forrester Recital Hall.

Symposium attendees may stay at the following hotels, with varying prices. It is advised to book your room as soon as possible.

Comfort Inn, 190 Weber Street, North, Waterloo, 1-800-228-5150, www.choicehotels.ca (Price: $86+/ night)
Waterloo Inn, 475 King Street, North, Waterloo, 1-800-361-4708, www.waterlooinn.com (Price: $169+/ night)
Best Western, 50 Benjamin Road, East, Waterloo, 1-800-528-1234, www.stjacobs countryinn.com (Price: $169+/night)
Hotel Laurier, WLU, 75 University Avenue, West, Waterloo, tel: 1-519-884-1970, x2771#, www.wlu.ca (Price $40 +/night. Also apartments (4 people) $120+/night. Please ask blocked bookings for LCMTR Symposium.

TRANSPORTATION

For air travel to Toronto, Pearson International Airport, Ontario, Canada, contact your preferred travel professional.

Driving directions from Airport:

From Toronto Pearson-International airport: Exit airport to expressway 401 West. Then turn Highway #8 Kitchener-Waterloo. Waterloo is about 90 kilometres from the Airport.

Airport Transportation:

Transportation to and from Waterloo and the Toronto, Pearson International Airport is available on www.airwaystransit.com or call 1-519-886-2121. You need your flight numbers when booking the transportation. The costs are about $80 per person one- way. There will be group discounts. Service is available 24-hours a day. You may pay with cash or any major credit card.

Tourist attractions:

Toronto, Niagara Falls, St.Jacobs, Mennonite Country.

For symposium information and updates send an email to dmartzme@wlu.ca or hahonen@wlu.ca, or call LCMTR 1-519-884-0710, ext. 2658, Debra Martz Melanson,

Star
York-Simcoe

Candidates champion diverse passions in placid campaign on the shores of Lake Simcoe
Oct 04, 2007 04:30 AM
Andrea Gordon
STAFF REPORTER
John Gilbank opens his eyes each morning to the blue expanse of Lake Simcoe. It's a daily reminder of what lured the former businessman into running as Liberal candidate in York-Simcoe.
New Democrat Nancy Morrison of Bradford is inspired by looking into the eyes of her 8-year-old twins, one of whom has autism. She has spent five years fighting for services for children with autism and making it a political issue in Ontario.
Jim Reeves of the Green party grew up playing on the rugged coast of Ireland and now roams the trails and forests around Lake Simcoe. The Sutton resident and former Canadian Tire dealer wants to jump-start the major parties out of their "inertia" on environmental issues.
The three are vying to unseat Conservative Julia Munro, MPP for the past 12 years. Munro, 65, previously represented York North, one of the three ridings included in the new constituency of York-Simcoe.
So far, the campaign has been so low-key that a recent headline in a local newspaper proclaimed "Sparks don't fly in subdued candidates meeting." The civility might be disappointing to reporters looking for fireworks, laughs Munro, but it means the discourse is focused where it should be – on the issues.
While the candidates have much in common – all are middle-aged, have kids involved in the campaign and live in the sprawling riding – they have distinct interests.
Gilbank, 60, and wife Lynn have two sons in university and run a bed and breakfast at Jackson's Point. Lynn is "an artist in the kitchen," says Gilbank. But at least he's up each morning at 5:30 to make the coffee.
Morrison, 48, who studied haute cuisine and has worked for police services for 21 years, says juggling a career, kids and activism proves she has what it takes to be an MPP. Husband Phil is a hands-on dad. "When I get to Queen's Park, maybe we can have a nanny."
Reeves, 64, got a degree as a mechanical engineer and loves restoring classic cars. But his first passion is protecting the nature around the lake. "I'd hate to see it ruined."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Too many reasons not to vote for McGuinty
Oct 04, 2007 04:30 AM
McGuinty best to lead Ontario
Editorial, Oct. 3
The Star would prefer to have a government that will promise anything to get elected? A government that will give very substantial tax dollars to those with Liberal ties without any documentation or follow-up? A government that would rather take parents of autistic children to court rather than fulfill a financial commitment made previously? Poor choice, in my opinion.
Doug Lippay, Sunderland, Ont.
------------------------------------------------------------------
PC media release
Attention News Editors:
On this date in history....
TORONTO, Oct. 4 /CNW/ -

October 4, 1957: The space age begins as the Soviet Union launches
Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite.

October 4, 1982: Laurie Skreslet becomes the first Canadian to climb to
the top of Mount Everest.

And now...today's Dalton McGuinty Do-Over:

In 2003, Dalton McGuinty promised to find a "feasible way in which
autistic children...can get the support and treatment they need."

In April 2005, Dalton McGuinty chose to appeal a ruling of the Ontario
Superior Court that the age cut off for IBI treatment violated the
constitutional rights of children with autism (Woodstock Sentinel-Review,
April 6, 2005).

Dalton McGuinty then took NDP MPP Shelley Martel to court when she tried
to find out how much the Ontario government spent on the court case. This was
after Dalton McGuinty fought Martel's freedom of information request and was
told by the Information and Privacy Commissioner that he had to release the
information (Globe and Mail, March 14, 2007).

And if all of that wasn't bad enough, Dalton McGuinty tried to force the
parents of children with autism to pay for the government's $85,000 legal bill
for the court case that he chose to continue in April 2005 (Toronto Star, June
11, 2007).

Meanwhile, the waiting list for autism treatment has grown from 89 in
early 2004 to nearly 1,100 children as of August 2007 (Toronto Star, January
19, 2007, Timmins Daily Press, August 18, 2007).

Now it's 2007 and Dalton McGuinty is making another autism promise:

<<
"Provide $10 million to prepare schools to deliver IBI therapy
on-site for the first time...."

But a March 1, 2007 memo from Deputy Minister of Education Ben Levin makes
it very clear that Dalton McGuinty isn't going to be providing IBI therapy in
schools.

"Based upon your work and in support of the recommendations of the
reference group the Ministry will soon release a PPM on the use of
Applied Behavioural analysis (ABA) in schools. The focus of this PPM
will be ABA teaching practices and not Intensive Behavioural
Intervention (IBI)...."
>>

If you couldn't believe Dalton McGuinty in 2003 why would believe him
now?

Leadership Matters.



For further information: Mike Van Soelen, (647) 722-1760
------------------------------------------------------------------------
CTV.CA
Ontario Votes 2007- Where they stand
Examining where Ontario's main political leaders stand on key issues in the 2007 provincial election.
TAXES
Dalton McGuinty: Vows not to implement new taxes or tax increases, which he promised in 2003. After that election, he introduced the health premium, saying it was needed to improve health care services and because the previous Conservative government hid a $5.6 billion deficit. McGuinty says he won't roll back the health premium, saying if it was removed it would leave a "multi-billion-hole in the budget" and lead to service cutbacks. Pledges low- and middle-income seniors a property tax grant of up to $500 a year, and says he will extend the land transfer rebate of up to $2,000 to all first-time homebuyers.
John Tory: Says he will repeal the $2.6-billion health premium over four years, but those earning less than $30,000 a year will see the cuts begin on Jan. 1, 2008. Since the government is in a surplus position, he says he can lower taxes. Also pledges a five per cent cap on annual property assessments and a review of the current system.
Howard Hampton: Promises to phase out the health tax for some low and middle-income taxpayers over four years. Says he will create a new tax bracket for the wealthy and increase corporate taxes for banks and insurance companies. Pledges to cap residential property tax assessments.
EDUCATION

McGuinty: Wants to be known was "the education premier." He opposes Tory's idea to fund private religious schools, saying it threatens the public education system because it would take $500 million a year out of public education and segregate students. Says he will increase education funding by $3.1 billion a year by 2011, expand junior kindergarten and kindergarten to full time starting in 2010 (which he promised in 2003), hire 1,200 new elementary teachers in 2007-08, establish a $42-million program to help kids with homework, ban trans fats from all school cafeterias, and continue to lower class sizes in primary grades and boost student test scores. For post-secondary students, he vows to implement a $300 textbook grant and increase the number of apprenticeship programs by 25 per cent, but he is not going to freeze or roll back tuition fees. He also says he will review the education funding formula by 2010.
Tory: Promises to give private religious schools $400 million if they opt into the public system. Ten days before the election, he softened his stance on the issue, saying he will allow a free vote in the Legislature and hold extensive public consultations. Says he will increase education spending by $800 million in 2006/07, and bring that annual figure up to $2.4 billion over four years. Vows to review the funding formula, reduce class sizes and expand standardized testing.
Hampton: Opposes Tory's idea to fund private religious schools. Pledges to roll back college and university tuition fees to 2003 levels and maintain them for four years. Says he will invest an additional $100 million through a grant to give school boards $200 per student to fund essentials and unique priorities. Promises to review the funding formula.
GOVERNMENT GRANTS

McGuinty: Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Mike Colle resigned in July after an auditor general's report deemed the Liberals did not provide an accountable and transparent process for awarding $32-million in year-end grants to various multicultural organizations. McGuinty apologized to Ontarians for not respecting their tax dollars.
Tory and Hampton: Both Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats criticized the questionable spending, accusing the Liberals of having a "slush fund." They jumped on the fact the Ontario Cricket Association received $1 million in funding after they had requested only $150,000. Both parties joined forces in calling for the attorney general to request a criminal probe into how the millions were handed out.
HEALTH CARE

McGuinty: Promises to hire 9,000 new nurses, hire more doctors, introduce a $45-million denticare program for low-income families, add 50 more family health teams, continue to reduce wait times, boost the home-care system by $700-million, spend an additional $12 million on specialized autism treatment, offer free prostate cancer exams for men over the age of 50, and compensate living organ donors up to $5,500 for their expenses and lost wages.
Tory: Vows to facilitate a private/public health-care partnership that residents can access with their provincial OHIP card, which he says will reduce wait times. Promises to hire more family doctors and possibly pay them more. Vows to increase annual health care spending by $8.5 billion over four years. Promises to spend $540 million to create electronic health records. Says he will increase spending for children with autism by $75 million immediately and quickly wipe out a backlog of autistic children awaiting treatment. Says he will bring 35,000 care spaces up to standard, and eliminate three-bed and four-bed long-term care wards. Vows to have a 70 per cent full-time employment rate for all registered nurses by 2010.
Hampton: Pledges to establish Ontario Smiles, a $100-million denticare program for low-income families. Vows an additional $400 million to hire more doctors, nurses and health-care professionals. Says he will invest $230 million in home care and increase personal care for seniors in long-term homes to 3.5 hours per day. Promises to increase taxes on cigarettes by 17 per cent to help prevent cancer and bring in revenue. Says he will spend $100 million annually for children with autism and clear the wait period for treatment. Vows to keep health care public; accuses McGuinty and Tory of supporting profit-driven hospitals.
ECONOMY

McGuinty: Says Ontario is in a "new era of economic strength," and the Liberals have added 327,000 new jobs since 2003 and expect another 270,000 over the next three years. He says a new $1.15-billion job-creation fund will help counter the loss of manufacturing jobs in Ontario. Part of that fund will go towards the development of Ontario-built green cars and auto parts. He claims the opposition is exaggerating by saying the province has lost more than 150,000 good-paying manufacturing jobs since the Liberals were elected. McGuinty says for every job lost, three more have been created, and 95 per cent of them pay more than $19.50 an hour. The leader says the new jobs fund will help create jobs in other manufacturing sectors, much like the Liberals' $500-million auto sector fund, which led to $7 billion in new investments and 7,000 new jobs.
Tory: Calls it one of the most important issues facing Ontarians. Pledges to revitalize the economy by helping skilled immigrants and those with mental health problems get jobs, better promote tourism, reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses and join the inter-province free trade agreement with between British Columbia and Alberta while exploring a similar arrangement with Quebec.
Hampton: Promises the auto sector a $600-million cash injection over five years, which would provide incentives for manufacturers that develop green automotive technology. Proposes longer layoff notice periods and mandatory job adjustment committees for mass layoffs of 50 or more jobs, and one-year notice from companies to allow time for the province to intervene and help negotiate a closure agreement. Says he will double severance packages to two weeks' pay for every year worked and to remove the 26-week severance cap. Vows to boost the economy by keeping electricity prices down and helping to sustain good-paying jobs.
ENVIRONMENT

McGuinty: Vows to close all coal-fired power plants by 2014, which he promised in 2003 to have shut down by 2007. Says it may be necessary to build more nuclear reactors to attain his long-term goal of about 40 per cent of Ontario's electricity to come from nuclear generation. Promises to continue to cut greenhouse gas emission levels, which he says is now below 1990 levels and almost one-third lower since the Liberals came into power. Pledges to ban the cosmetic use of pesticides, plant 50 million trees across southern Ontario by 2020, and offer rebates of up to $150 for homeowners to help pay for home energy audits.
Tory: Says he will cut Ontario's greenhouse gas emissions to 10 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. Says he will invest up to $1.3 billion to install scrubbers in coal-fired plants. He will also try to close the plants by 2014, and vows to build more nuclear power and increase wind and solar power sources.
Hampton: Is against nuclear power, and promises more cash for wind, solar and water technologies. Says he will cut Ontario's greenhouse gas emissions to six per cent below 1990 levels within four years. He vows to close coal plants by 2014, retrofit for energy efficiency more than 600,000 homes and 400,000 apartment buildings. He also promises to create an online database to inform residents of pollutants in their community and force manufacturers to list known or suspected toxins on product labels.
PUBLIC TRANSIT & GRIDLOCK

McGuinty: This summer he announced a $17.5 billion transit plan -- the largest ever rapid transit announcement initiative in Canadian history -- that will be invested in the Toronto region over 12 years starting in 2008. The plan includes 52 rapid transit projects and is expected to create 175,000 jobs. Work has begun on a $30-million project for a flagship transit hub at Kipling Station, which he says will be complete in 2010. Promises to invest $6 billion for infrastructure and $1.7 billion to improve highways.
Tory: Vows to put 100 per cent of provincial gas tax revenues towards roads and transit, and promises "hundreds of millions" in public transit spending. Pledges to spend $1 billion on rural roads and urban transit to address gridlock.
Hampton: Pledges to upload 50 per cent of operating costs and cap transit fares.
BUDGET

McGuinty: During their first term, the Liberals boosted provincial spending by more than $20 billion a year, increasing the budget to more than $80 billion while vowing to restore previous Conservative cuts. The Liberals ran a deficit on the hidden $5.6 billion deficit left behind by the Tories, but balanced the final budget this year as had promised. This year's budget focused on helping the poor through the Ontario Child Benefit payment and raising the minimum wage, and also increased health and education spending.
Tory: Slammed this year's budget, calling it a "political spending buffet'' aimed at buying votes. He said the Liberals are doing nothing for farmers, the manufacturing sector or over-taxed voters suffering with the $2.5-billion health tax. He vows to increase spending by $13 billion over the next five years and cut taxes and spending, which he says will create jobs and stimulate the economy. Says he will find $1.5 billion in spending "efficiencies."
Hampton: He called the 2007/08 budget "a lot of hype and no action," saying it failed hard-working families and low-income earners. He promises to properly address the needs of the province's poor and give Ontarians "a fair deal."
SALARIES

McGuinty: Approved a 25 per cent pay raise for Ontario politicians at the end of last year, saying MPPs only earn 75 per cent of what MPs in Ottawa get. The pay increase was proposed by Ontario's Integrity Commissioner. McGuinty first rejected the idea, but changed his mind a few days later. The $22,000 pay hike raised the minimum salary for all provincial politicians to about $110,000 a year. McGuinty got a boost of about $39,000, putting his annual salary at $198,620.
Tory: Conservatives voted in favour of the pay hike.
Hampton: NDP members opposed the salary increase. Hampton, who donated his $12,330 pay raise to charity, promises to slash salaries of Ontario politicians immediately.
SOCIAL SERVICE COSTS

All three leaders say money collected by municipalities through property taxes should not be used to pay for various social services programs. McGuinty, Tory and Hampton each vow to relieve that burden by uploading some of the costs, reversing the downloading trend by previous provincial governments.
CRIME AND SAFETY

McGuinty: Pledged $26 million to put 200 more police officers on the streets and expand the guns and gangs forces. Promises to invest $21.5 million over five years to deal with high-risk offenders. Earlier this year he called a gun violence review after a surge in firearms offences in Toronto. He wants a federal handgun ban. Implemented new street racing legislation last summer, which labels motorists travelling more than 50 kilometres above the limit as street racers under the law -- giving police the power to impound vehicles for seven days, suspend licences for seven days and issue higher fines. McGuinty is against photo radar. To ease tensions with native groups, the Liberals in June created a stand-alone Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.
Tory: Pledges to get tough on crime by hiring an additional 200 provincial police officers, pushing for mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana grow-ops, pushing for a stronger Youth Criminal Justice Act, creating a zero-tolerance approach to aboriginal land-claim disputes (which includes lawsuits for illegal blockades), and giving an annual tally of violent offences, bail violations and plea bargains. He vows to crack down on the number of plea bargains, provide thousands of dollars in cash rewards for tips about unsolved cases, expand the use of ankle monitoring bracelets on violent criminals, and grant automatic inquests when someone who has been released from custody causes a death. He supports tougher penalties for street racers, and is against photo radar.
Hampton: Vows to give municipalities funding to hire 3,000 new police officers and upload court security costs, which he estimates would free up about $250 million a year for local forces. Hampton supports bringing back photo radar.
MINIMUM WAGE

McGuinty: Pledges to raise the minimum wage to $10.25 by 2010, increasing the current $8 wage 75 cents each March 31 over the next three years. Since taking office, the Liberals have increased the wage four times -- it was $6.85 in 2003 and hadn't been raised in nine years.
Tory: Promises to increase the minimum wage on a schedule that would give employers time to adjust and avoid job losses.
Hampton: Vows to increase the minimum wage $2 to $10 an hour.
OTHER KEY PROMISES
McGuinty: Proposes a new statutory holiday in February called "Family Day," tax credits for bicycle purchases and kids in extra-curricular programs, a tax rebate for those who care for an aging parent in the parent's home, fertility monitoring for women over the age of 28 as part of their annual physical exam, and extending government office hours on weekends and evenings.
Tory: Pledges to give $5 million in the first year and $2.5 million annually to fund the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund to promote cultural events.
Hampton: Says he will allow northern Ontario to keep proceeds from levies on mining profits, Crown timber and hydroelectric power. Pledges to eliminate public-private partnerships.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Star

Education assistant cutbacks assailed

Ontario needs 6,000 more to serve disabled, CUPE report says
Oct 04, 2007 04:30 AM
Louise Brown
EDUCATION REPORTER
Ontario schools have 6,000 fewer education assistants than they need to help the province's most needy children, the physically disabled, autistic and students with extreme behavioural problems, according to a report released yesterday by the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Despite a $20 million boost in August from Queen's Park to hike the salaries of education assistants, it would take $189 million more for schools to hire the education assistants the funding formula is supposed to provide, said CUPE vice-president Fred Hahn at a news conference in Toronto yesterday.
Only the New Democratic Party has pledged an immediate review of the school funding formula that is short-changing the province's most vulnerable children, he said. The Liberals have promised a review by 2010 and the Progressive Conservatives, who designed the formula, have not set a date for an overhaul.
"The government announced a whole bunch of money for education assistants this summer, which was welcome and it sounded really good, but in reality, it's a fraction of what we need to stem the layoffs of hundreds of education assistants," said Hahn.
A report prepared for CUPE by economist Hugh Mackenzie said Premier Dalton McGuinty pledged $20 million in August to boost the salaries of the education assistants across the province who work with often severely disabled children, as well as kindergarten students in large inner-city classrooms.
"While the funding formula suggests there should be nearly 28,000 education assistants in schools, there are barely 21,000," said Mackenzie, because the province gives school boards much less to pay the workers than the boards actually pay, so school boards make up the difference with layoffs.
CUPE estimates up to 300 educational assistants have been laid off or had their hours reduced in the past year.
"The government claimed it was increasing salary benchmarks by 22 per cent, but it actually works out to only about 2.4 per cent more, which leaves school boards without the funding to actually hire the number they need," said McKenzie.
At Toronto's Beverly School for the disabled, education assistant Bonnie Dineen often is bitten or hit as she works to help students struggling with physical and behavioural challenges. "Many are non-verbal, and our jobs are so important to helping these little kids try to learn in very different ways."
Because of funding cuts, Dineen only works half-time with a class that she used to assist each day.
Said Nancy Arnott, education assistance at Toronto's Sunny View School: "I used to be able to work with (children) on math and academics full-time, but now many education assistants run from class to class helping unload children from buses and juggling academic and personal care."
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Star
special education
Oct 01, 2007 04:30 AM
Party positions
Conservatives: End waiting lists for autistic children under 6; access to therapy for all school-aged children
Liberals: In-school treatment for autistic children
NDP: Clear waiting lists; access to therapy for all school-aged children
Google alert

Candidates also debate education issues
Duane Hicks
Thursday, October 4, 2007
With representatives from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, and Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association asking questions, the four candidates vying for the Kenora-Rainy River riding had a lot to say about education issues at Tuesday night’s forum.
In response to Progressive Conservative leader John Tory’s controversial plan to publicly fund Ontario’s faith-based private schools, Caren Fagerdahl of the ETFO asked the candidates for their view on the topic.
“How can we justify providing funding for one faith-based system and not another when all requirements are equal?” replied PC candidate Penny Lucas, adding the only difference between the Catholic and public system is the faith-based part of it.
After all, the Catholic system follows Ontario curriculum, and still uses accredited teachers and provincial testing.
“If there’s another faith-based school system out there that would deliver the same programming, I can’t see how could fund one and not the other?” Lucas said.
Liberal candidate Mike Wood said the McGuinty government is dedicated to funding all public education, including the Catholic French and English.
But the $500 million that John Tory would dedicate to faith-based schools would mean $5 million taken from every riding—translating to 7,000 fewer teachers, 4,000 fewer principals, and $100,000 less for every single school, he added.
“We’ve come a long way in three years. Our test scores are up, our class sizes are down. We can’t afford to go backwards right now,” Wood stressed.
NDP leader and incumbent MPP Howard Hampton noted if people want to take their children to private schools, that’s fine—but that should be a private decision paid for with private funds, not public money.
Green Party candidate JoJo Holiday said her party stands by a single public-funded education system. This would save $500 million that could be put towards student transportation, as well as counsellors and nurses for schools.
She added world religion always could be added to the curriculum.
“It’s something we need to learn. It’s about other people’s beliefs and faith systems, and that’s important,” she remarked, adding Ojibway also should be taught in regional schools.
Fagerdahl also asked the candidates how they would address the current funding deficits in education.
Lucas said the PC plan for public education includes increased annual funding over the next four years and a review of the funding formula, with annual reviews to ensure schools have the funds they need to address local needs.
It also includes raising standards in education to provide parents with an honest assessment of how their children are doing, and to provide teachers and parents with greater say in decision-making.
Hampton said that as far as funding goes, the McGuinty government hasn’t kept its promises.
“We have 40,000 kids waiting for special education. We have more schools closing across Northern Ontario and rural Ontario all the time,” he charged.
Hampton noted the NDP would bring back the local priorities grant, which is about $200 per student, that allows local boards to make priority decisions based on its particular circumstances, whether that’s transportation, special education, or whatever.
“We also have to recognize that ‘at-risk’ children don’t receive the attention they need. We would put in about $125 per child in ‘at-risk’ funding,” said Hampton.
Holiday said the Green Party would immediately address the $700 difference per student in the elementary system and bring it up to the level of the secondary student.
That would bring in more counsellors, nurses, and people that would be able to help the students “falling between the cracks.”
Jeff Rajala, with the OSSTF, informed candidates the number of education assistants has decreased while the need for their services has increased over the years.
Insufficient support for students is a symptom of a much larger problem, which is a lack of active funding in areas such as education, day care, and mental health care, and Rajala asked candidates what they would do about it.
In addition to fixing the aforementioned funding formula, and getting back the local priority and “at-risk” grants, Hampton said there’s “ a pressing need for mental health services for children,” as well as “increasing problems with alcohol and drug addiction.”
He said the emphasis should be on prevention, and the tobacco tax should be raised to the level of British Columbia—bringing in an estimated $500 million a year to be dedicated to mental health and addiction services.
Holiday, for her part, said the Green Party advocates smaller school boards to better determine the needs of students and assign staff to better those needs.
“The Conservatives are about building the kind of caring and compassionate society that we all want to see,” said Lucas. “All of us should have a goal of a public education system that ensures each child get the support they need to realize their full potential.”
Wood said the province’s education system has changed drastically in the past four years since the McGuinty government came to power.
In Rainy River District, funding has gone up 21 percent, special education spending has risen by 47 percent, and transportation funding has gone up 38 percent while school operational funding has increased 30 percent.
“That’s significant investment,” he noted, adding the Liberals still are working at fixing the funding formula.
Speaking more generally, Dan Maltais, president of the local Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, asked the candidates what they see as education issues for the north and possible solutions to those problems.
Lucas said that in addition to increased annual funding, and more input from teachers and parents in decision-making, the John Tory government is dedicated to providing high-speed Internet access for remote areas so all northerners can upgrade their skills and education and do business with the rest of the world.
She added having access to higher education is not always easy for northerners, and that the PC government will invest in more post-secondary education and training, and create a northern research fund for universities and colleges.
Wood noted the Northwest Catholic District School Board is facing the same issues as the public board, including declining enrolment and the resulting impact on funds available.
He added that a remote and rural grant has to be advocated for northern school boards, as well as more special education funding. “But again, we need a strong voice inside government to advocate for it rather than outside,” he stressed.
“You can tell people that somehow things are better, but I got to tell you when I talk to teachers, what they’re saying to me is ‘I’m working longer, I’m working harder, we have a more difficult task and increasingly we don’t have the education assistants we need to do the job,’” charged Hampton.
“We need to fix the funding formula, and stop holding photos ops and more photo ops.”
Hampton argued the McGuinty government has left some special needs students out in the cold.
“Four years ago, Dalton McGuinty wrote to the parents of autistic children, saying we’re going to ensure your children receive the funding they need for intensive behavioural intervention and we’re going to ensure that those therapists are allowed to go in the schools,” he recalled.
“There were about 80 kids on the waiting list for IBI treatment then. Today, there are over 1,200 kids on the waiting list.
“In fact, the McGuinty government, after making that promise spent, $2.4 million fighting those parents in court,” Hampton added. “After the parents won the court battle, the McGuinty government announced funding and re-announced it and re-announced it, and then quietly, when no one was looking, slipped $59 million of the funding out of the envelope.
“That’s why we continue to have those problems.”
Wood asked Hampton where was autism funding mentioned in the 2003 NDP platform, at which the NDP leader exploded.
“My wife happens to be the foremost advocate for children with autism in the province. If you’re going to say that, mister, you’re going to have trouble,” he fumed.
“My wife has gone to court with Dalton McGuinty over this issue. My wife disclosed the fact that McGuinty promised and failed to do it,” Hampton said.
End of mailing.

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