July 18-30th 2007
(I was on Vacation over the last week, thus the late mailing..)
Thank you for your patience.
We value your feedback.
Please send comments to the email addresses at the end of this mailing.
From Autism Ontario regarding Summer Camp Funding Program:
From: "Margaret Spoelstra"
>Subject: Talking to families about Autism Ontario's Summer Camp
>Date: Tue, 31 Jul 2007 09:58:06 -0400
>While we work through the quirks/logistics of Autism Ontario's Summer
>Camp Support Fund, we're finding some trends beginning to emerge. We
>would like to offer encouragement to you and to families who may not
>have applied for the funds due to concerns about the guidelines in the
>1) Built in 1-1 worker costs on camp invoices: Although we are
>able to pay for program registration fees for specific camp programs,
>some camp programs charge additional fees to parents for 1-1 support
>within the camp program itself. If this is true for a particular
>program, Autism Ontario's subsidy will cover the cost for the amount
>the 1-1 worker. We've noticed that some camp invoices state this right
>on the invoice/receipt but in other cases, it is understood, but not
>explicitly stated. With the parent's consent, we would be pleased to
>receive an email or signed note on the receipt from the camp/program
>director indicating the portion of the receipt covers that 1-1
>2) Worries about programs occurring later in the summer. Some
>parents have told us that they would not register their children for
>certain weeks in August unless they knew they would get the subsidy
>the 1-1 worker. This makes sense to us, and many parents who've
>contacted us about this have made arrangements that are workable for
>3) Many unique circumstances: We are very aware that many
>are unable to afford camp fees in the first place. But their children
>could perhaps participate in low or no cost local summer park or
>neighborhood summer recreational opportunities if there was a 1-1
>accompanying them. Many of these situations would qualify as summer
>programming. Workers must be over the age of 18, but may be non-parent
>4) Cheque turn around time is within two weeks or less upon
>of 3 required documents. If this time-frame causes financial hardship,
>call us to see what can be arranged.
>We cannot overemphasize our desire to make this program available to
>many families as possible, even though there are only 500 spaces in
>first year of this program. When in doubt, or to clarify, email
>firstname.lastname@example.org or call Ginny Kontosic at 41-246-9592 x 225.
>If you know of families who have not applied, but you think they could
>still be eligible, please encourage them or if you are able to call us
>to get a bit more information on their behalf, that could be a big
>Those who have taken a moment to connect with us often have solutions
>that were not apparent to them until they shared their situation with
>Thanks to everyone who has already been helping to get the word out.
>began receiving applications within days of the program's
>Please do not hesitate to forward this message to people who need to
>know about it. Details about the Summer Camp Support Fund may be found
>by clicking on the link on the opening page of our website.
Ask Lindsay Moir:
Summer camp support
Friday, July 20, 2007
This column is information on an excellent program available to parents ofchildren with autism. Complete details can be found at www.autismontario.com/summercamp . This program funds both AUTISM-SPECIFIC CAMPS and funding for 1:1 SUPPORT WORKERS FOR INTEGRATED CAMP SETTINGS.
I receive several inquiries each year asking if there are subsidies for exceptional children, and usually direct those families to agencies that operate camps for specific disabilities ( Easter Seals, Ontario Camp for the Deaf, Camp for the Blind, etc) or to service clubs to pay for 1:1 support at a community program.
This new funding came from the Ministry of Children & Youth Services (MCYS).
MCYS announced a grant of $535,000 to Autism Ontario to create addition spaces for children with autism in Dufferin, Hamilton, Niagara Region, Sarnia and York Region to attend summer camps operated by the local chapters of Autism Ontario.
In addition, at least 500 families with children with autism attending a community summer camp program can apply for reimbursement of up to $585 per child to pay for a 1:1 support worker to accompany the autistic child to a community summer program. Without this kind of support, many children with autism would be unable to attend these programs. Many families cannot afford to pay both the camp fees AND the support worker.
I would like to commend Minister Chambers, MCYS and the Autism Ontario folks for collaboratng so effectively in this project.
Marg Spoelstra, Executive Director of Autism Ontario told me:
"Our goal is to distribute every dime of the 1:1 worker funds we have available to support families of children with ASD to attend summer programs in their community. I think this kind of support can assist children with maintaining skils learned during the school year and create opportunities for generalizing new skills to social settings like summer camp. With 1:1 supports, the likelihood of that occurring increases greatly."
By agreeing to distribute the money on behalf of MCYS, Autism Ontario has kept the claim process simple, and absorbed the administrative costs--ensuring that every government grant dollar goes to families.
I am concerned that many families beyond the autism community are also in need of this kind of support. We need to use this model and advocate for more programs for a wider variety of learners.
The old "summer camp" model was a residential week at a disability-specific setting. These camps are very expensive to maintain and tie up dollars in property costs and building maintenance. Organizations like Easter Seals are currently struggling with the huge financial aspects of this model. They are currently proposing the closure of some camps. Lion's Clubs are reviewing the costs of operation for camps for the blind.
As we move to a more inclusive society, many parents prefer that their children attend local community programs. Because many of these community programs are operated on a day program basis, the program costs are much lower. However, one of the concerns for these usually municipally-run programs is - "Where do the extra support staff dollars come from?"
This new funding strategy offers a model that can be efficiently and effectively operated all across the province and the exceptionality spectrum-----even if your child is NOT autistic, it is worth monitoring this program to see if it could be adapted to your situation. If it works well, can it be expanded for 2008?
"A summer camp subsidy for the 2000s"?
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 email@example.com He will answer as many questions as possible.
‘Education should be a given, not a battle’
Wednesday, July 18, 2007 -- Natalie Miller
Without notification, a Toronto-area parent says her son’s schooling plans for the fall were changed last minute from regular stream to special education.
While attending a meeting in May, Lillian Wagman says the change was made without prior discussion.
“I was angry. I was sad. I was scared, says Wagman.
She isn’t alone.
OACRS.com columnist Lindsay Moir has received about two dozen complaints and inquiries from parents about school officials changing their children’s education plans at the last minute. From transportation changes to disrupted support in the classroom for their child with special needs, parents were dealt a blow at the end of the school year. Moir, an experienced educator, reports receiving at least 24 messages from parents delivered bad news abruptly at the end of the June.
Wagman, like other parents, heads into the summer in a distraught state.
“Parents of special needs children have plenty to worry about over their daily care and needs, and education should be a ‘given’ not a battle,” says Wagman.
“We are profoundly exhausted already, but forced to throw down the gauntlet.”
Her son, Michael, 9, who has autism spectrum disorder, is in Grade 3. His schooling has included attending a regular class with support. At the May 9 meeting to discuss his individualized educational plans, Wagman says she saw the error. When the child’s day is spent less than 50 per cent of the time in a special education program, then the child’s placement is regular classroom, says Wagman. When she raised the matter, she says she was told it was an oversight. However, Wagman is now headed for the appeals process.
“They’re trying to slowly push him to special education,” suspects Wagman, noting she wants her son to attend a regular classroom with support at their neighbourhood school with his brother.
“I am forced to appeal this placement and miss more work.”
Moir says he has analyzed the information he has received and says it isn’t an issue specific to the separate or public school boards and the complaints aren’t coming from a particular geographic area. To put the issue of last-minute changes in perspective, Moir received two calls for help last year compared to the 24 he received as of July 6 of this year.
FROM Google Alerts
July 29, 2007
Everyone thinks Alan Rickman is a bad guy, but the silver-tongued thesp tells Stephanie Bunbury he's more like the kindly drifter in his latest film.
Ask anyone outside the movie business and they will tell you Alan Rickman plays villains. It's not hard to understand why. His big break in Hollywood came when he played the evil dude in the first Die Hard film, complete with a comedy German accent. (I know, it's hard to believe that as recently as 1988, World War II was still the primary source of villainous voices. Even now, you can't go wrong with a Nazi.)
Soon after that, he played the perennially unpleasant Sheriff of Nottingham with magnificent, flourishing hatefulness in Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. On stage, his benchmark role was as Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, a sociopath for whom life was a perpetual game of cat and mouse. Even Rickman's current starring turn, as the funereal Hogwart's teacher Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, draws strength from the audience's expectation that any character he plays may well turn to the bad - or, in Potter-speak, the Dark Side.
In real life, however, Rickman tends to sigh when people ask him about playing the bad guy. He hasn't played a real baddie, he says heavily, in years. Even going back over his filmography, he was never actually typecast. He was, admittedly, one of the walking dead in Truly, Madly, Deeply (1991), but benevolent with it. Eamon de Valera (Michael Collins, 1996) was, by his own and many other people's lights, a hero.
In Galaxy Quest (1999), my favourite Rickman movie, he was only bad in the sense that an irascible, irritating person would be a bad travelling companion on an involuntary space trip. If his choices demonstrate anything, it is that can play anyone.
"As in anything in life, but particularly in acting," Rickman says drily, "I think it's called 'presenting a moving target'."
Anyway, he finds the whole idea of playing the villain irrelevant to what he does. "I just don't see people as one thing or the other," he says in that famous drawl. "Being an actor is about not judging the characters you play. It's odd for me even to have just one word applied to a character. You don't see yourself as good or bad. You just see yourself as a person who has these needs. And get on with being that person."
In his latest role, as a drifting British former convict in Marc Evans' independent film Snow Cake, he plays a man who is unexpectedly kind. We first see Alex Hughes sitting morosely in a roadside diner in Canada, a stranger in a strange land, when a kooky young girl (Emily Hampshire) approaches him for a lift. Against his inclinations, he takes her. Then a truck drives into them. The girl is killed.
Alex, who was not going anywhere much, decides to change course for his passenger's hometown of Wawa, a tiny and terribly cold place in northern Ontario, with the inchoate hope of offering help. There he meets the girl's mother Linda - played with fierce commitment by Sigourney Weaver - who turns out to be acutely autistic. She loves snow; she is fanatically clean; she is competent to do methodical work, but she can barely function in social terms. Even so, a strange bond of comfort forms between them.
Alex Hughes, says Rickman, is more like him than any other character he has played. "He's very close to me, because I enjoy playing someone who is just doing his best. That's me."
Speaking after the film's first screening at the Berlin Film Festival, he is puzzled by people who ask whether he would go to see the parents of a girl who had died in an accident in his car.
"I think you would. There are times when you just have to hope for the best with an event in your life. And I think that is one of the things the film is about; it's almost Chekhovian. It's: 'You know what? There are times when you've just got to roll up your sleeves and get on with it'."
He loved making the film - especially with Weaver, his old friend from Galaxy Quest, who brought her star wattage to the project at his behest - and living in a small town of peculiarly Canadian friendliness. "There's a community to filmmaking," he says, "and when you're in a small town, it's even stronger."
The snow was melting by the time they were ready to shoot, but locals helped out by raking up snow and storing it in their sheds, out of the sun, then bringing it out in wheelbarrows when it was needed.
"And I have a big memory of the diner in Hawk Junction, because we spent many days there making the car-crash scene. That woman makes the best rhubarb pies."
He loves the film, too, he says, his voice lifting for a moment with enthusiasm. "It's funny, full of light and hope. I hope people get it."
People certainly got it in Berlin: reporters searched for superlatives to praise the moving simplicity of the story, the authenticity and pathos of Weaver's performance and Rickman's taut, sexy turn as the town outsider.
It found its ranks of enemies, however, when it was released a few months later in North America and Britain. "A sanctimonious little affair" wrote one critic, who went on to query whether a man "mooching around town like the saddest camel on Earth" would really be beset, as Alex is, with come-ons from practically every woman in town. Especially - he did not say this, but you could see the words hanging over the page - at his age.
Rickman is now 61. Every day, he said soon after his 60th birthday, he looked in the shaving mirror and waved goodbye to another role. "Suddenly, you're 20 years too old for all those roles you planned to do." But while he may never play Hamlet again, he has recently had a succession of complex, substantial roles that include, as well as Alex in Snow Cake, Antoine Richis in Tom Tykwer's adaptation of Perfume, Sweeney Todd for Tim Burton, and the lead in another independent film, Nobel Son, in which he plays a bullying father who is also a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Yes, he says sardonically, he is still very much here. Along with "a lot of other baby boomers. And we're still in our jeans".
Rickman did not set out to be an actor. It didn't seem to be in his stars, either, as a boy growing up on a council estate in Acton, a drab bit of west London.
When he was 12, however, he won a scholarship to a private boys' school that encouraged his artistic leanings. From there he went to art school and studied graphic design, only choosing acting in his late 20s.
"I'd been doing it anyway, with amateur groups, and it was always just the most important thing to me," he says. "But you have to get one thing out of your system. We were very successful, our graphic design group, so it wasn't like one still thought there were ladders to climb. We'd sort of got there. We weren't making any money, but we were having exhibitions and doing really good work. So I thought, 'This is it', you know. It was time to do that other thing."
He doesn't draw any more but, occasionally, when he has been directing theatre or his one film, The Winter Guest, he has sketched something to show crew what things should look like. He knows, too, that having a trained eye helped him in directing.
"So, I don't know, there is some scheme out there. Everyone has bits of themselves that get used. Or not. It feels the kind of thing I'll get back to."
Rickman met his partner, Rima Horton, while he was at art school. He was 19: they have been together, in a very un-showbiz way, for more than 40 years. She is now a university lecturer in economics and has stood twice for election as a Labour candidate, albeit in safe Conservative seats.
Rickman is also politically engaged. One of his most recent projects was a theatrical adaptation for London's Royal Court of the diaries of a young Washington anti-war activist, Rachel Corrie, who was run down when she tried to stop an Israeli bulldozer destroying a Palestinian home. The play became something of a cause celebre last year when an independent theatre in New York dropped it from its schedule when Hamas was elected, blaming "the very edgy situation".
Rickman denounced the move as "censorship". "I had to say that, didn't I?" he said some months later. "The real irony for me was that we had a situation where two independent theatres were in some kind of conflict which, given the world we are living in, was a great pity."
In all this time, we have barely mentioned Harry Potter. Rickman always avoids it - "I don't want to play with something that has to do with children's innocence" is a typical riposte - but it is the boy wizard who has given him enough leverage to get films such as Snow Cake made. And, of course, he likes playing the professor of potions, whom he sees as "quite an insecure person, always longing to be something else that people will really respect".
"At this point, it's good to have done something for children," he says. "I like the fact it's persuaded children to read. If I'm going to be working when I'm 80, I need them as my audience."
He gives a faint, Snape-like smile that suggests he might prefer them as his next meal. Perhaps it was a glimpse of his forthcoming Sweeney Todd. He's a very funny man, but he does make a good villain.
Snow Cake opens on Thursday.
Six great Alan Rickman moments
Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply, 1991
On second viewing, Minghella's schmaltzy weepy calls more for buckets than hankies, but Rickman's frosty ghost is much sexier than the music therapist who replaces him. Love the scene where he invites his dead mates around to watch Woody Allen videos.
Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, 1991
Rickman gives great panto villain in this silly film, and out-vamps his enemy in a fetching black leather ensemble. "That's it, then," he snarls. "Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas."
Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, 1995
Although Rickman is strangled as much by his preposterous period neckwear as by his hidden passions, he proves a worthy suitor for flighty Marianne (Kate Winslet) in this top-shelf Austen adaptation by his great mate Emma Thompson.
Sir Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest, 1999
Rickman spoofs Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Stewart in this underrated comedy about superannuated sci-fi actors blasted into space. As the show's resident grand thesp, Rickman delivers creaky catchphrases ("By Grabthar's hammer") until he finally cracks: "I was an actor once, damn it! Now look at me. Look at me! I won't go out there and say that stupid line one more time."
Harry in Love Actually, 2003
In the only tolerable segment of this slice of festive treacle, Rickman teams up with Thompson again to play a cranky boss who combines shaggy sexiness with appalling bastardry. We forgive him, a little, when he gives Laura Linney some advice: "Invite him out for a drink and then after about 20 minutes, casually drop into the conversation the fact that you'd like to marry him and have lots of sex and babies."
Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 2004
The third and best film gives the professor plenty of screen time to be ambiguously hateful: it's the juiciest role in the entire series. The scene in the shrieking shack where he plays off his two high-school rivals, Sirius Black (played by Gary Oldman) and Professor Lupin (played by David Thewlis), is beautifully malicious.
From a listmate:
Ask Lindsay Moir:
Provincial campaign questions
Friday, July 27, 2007
Question: It has become very obvious that the provincial election campaign has begun — the first MEGA-ISSUE in education seems to be the funding of religious schools. While this may be of interest to the general public, I am looking for "special education questions" to take to our local candidates and even to the provincial leaders as they swing through our riding. Do you have any suggestions?
As a long-term civil servant, I will do my best to be "a-political"! I believe that these questions can be raised with any politician and would help us to understand where that party is going in special education. Remember with "fixed term" election dates, these policy directions will be in place for the next 5 years.
I am open to adding questions submitted by FamilyNet readers to this list — please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add non-partisan questions to my column in the coming weeks.
Here are some starter questions to ask your politicians:
• The document, Special Education Transformation (May 2006) outlines reforms to the Special Education system in Ontario. These reforms are seen as favourable to parents and students. Only some of these reforms have been enacted to date. What remaining parts of Special Education Transformation would be a priority for your government?
• Declining enrollment has resulted in declining income for the majority of school boards. As boards wrestle with shrinking budgets, it seems to most parents of special education students, that school boards are disproportionately cutting special education programs and support personnel, in order to balance their budgets. What would your government do to protect funding for special education programs and services?
• Earlier this year the Ministry of Education and the Ontario Human Rights Commission reached a settlement to end the disproportionate use of suspension and expulsion of special education students. In essence, special needs students are NOT to be suspended for "disability-related behaviour" — instead of suspension or expulsion, boards are required to develop behaviour management plans. Giving the fact that discipline is a huge issue in Ontario's schools, how would your government apply the Safe Schools Act in order to differentiate between "disability-related behaviour of exceptional students" and "wilful, criminal behaviour in our schools"?
• Parents of exceptional children are aware of tremendous differences in the levels of acceptance and service of their children, from school to school. Some schools and educators are "inclusive-minded" and embrace and educate special needs children. Other schools work hard to keep them out, or provide "custodial care" programs rather than education. What will your government do ensure equitable access, positive attitudes and program standards for special education?
Well that's a start — please send me some other areas that we need to quiz our candidates on the subject of Special Education . . . more to come!
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 email@example.com He will answer as many questions as possible.
FROM a Listmate
July 27, 2007 NATIONAL POST (ALL BUT TORONTO) PAGE: A8 (CANADA)
Quebec police probe autistic boy's drowning
Municipal Day Camp
Marianne White, CanWest News Service
Police are investigating the death of a six-year-old autistic boy who drowned after it took camp authorities two hours to notify lifeguards that he was missing and three hours to contact police.
Lucas Beaupre-Vallieres was at Lac-St-Joseph, about 30 kilo-metres outside Quebec City, on Wednesday with about 100 children from a local day camp. Lucas went missing shortly after his arrival at the beach.
Camp authorities were questioned by anxious parents yesterday and said that the search for the young boy started as soon as he vanished.
"The camp supervisors looked for him and searched everywhere," said Emile Loranger, Mayor of L'Ancienne-Lorette.
The boy attended the municipal day camp.
The child had been missing for more than two hours when camp supervisors asked lifeguards for help, prompting a commotion on the beach where more than 1,000 vacationers were enjoying the warm weather.
After an extensive search, the boy was pulled from the lake at around 2 p.m., three hours after his arrival, and he had no vital signs. He was rushed to a hospital. Police say efforts to revive him failed.
It is unclear how the boy, who was under supervision, was able to go off on his own.
"We want to know what happened exactly and draw a precise timeline," said police spokeswoman Ann Mathieu. "We are not drawing any conclusions yet, but there are lots of unanswered questions," she added.
The municipality is also looking into the accident and is unsure what happened. Ms. Loranger stressed that camp supervisors were experienced and that all precautionary measures had been taken.
"Maybe someone just turned their head for a second, who knows? It never should have happened, so that's why it's called an accident," Ms. Loranger told a news conference.
Lucas was one of the few children with special needs attending the camp and was suppose to have an accompanying adult with him at all times. But his usual supervisor couldn't attend the field trip and he was assigned a new one. The camp director called the young boy's mother the night before to inform her of the situation and she agreed to send her child to the beach with a new supervisor.
For those who suffer from autism, that kind of change can be very troubling.
"I don't know to what extent that young boy was affected, but in general, individuals with autism really dread change. They need routine to feel at ease," says Johanne Lauzon, director of a Quebec autism association.
Autism spectrum disorder is an illness of the brain that affects social, creative and communication
skills. Those affected usually find it hard to communicate with others in a typical way and have difficulty understanding social conventions. As a result, they sometimes respond in unusual ways to everyday situations and changing environments.
Camp officials said the supervisor who was watching Lucas was in shock and has yet to be fully questioned.
Marc Lachance, the owner of the beach, says it's the first time a drowning occurred at his resort since he bought it 10 years ago. "We had more than enough lifeguards on duty and they reacted very quickly," he said.
"But they would have liked to be informed as soon as the boy disappeared. Maybe, you keep thinking maybe, they could have found him earlier," he added. CHILDREN
July 27, 2007 THE RECORD (KITCHENER, CAMBRIDGE AND WATERLOO) (FINAL) PAGE: A1 (FRONT)
McGuinty minister resigns
Scathing auditor's report forces changes to citizenship ministry
Ontario's minister of citizenship and immigration had to resign after an auditor general's report found $32 million was given to ethnic groups without an "open, transparent or accountable'' process, Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday as he apologized to taxpayers.
In his investigation into the controversial year-end grants, Auditor General Jim McCarter found there was no evidence minister Mike Colle doled out money to Liberal-friendly ethnic groups, as alleged by the opposition. Still, McCarter said the province rushed money out the door without adequate accountability or transparency.
"I wholeheartedly accept that finding,'' McGuinty said following the release of McCarter's report yesterday.
"Clearly we must and will do better. . . . I want to apologize to the people of Ontario for not living up to the high standards that we have set for ourselves and that they are entitled to expect from us.
"The process (Colle's) ministry followed was clearly inadequate. In this circumstance, Mike and I agree the minister must be held accountable and that stepping aside is the right thing to do.''
Government Services Minister Gerry Phillips was sworn in to replace Colle and will have responsibility for both ministries until the Oct. 10 election.
Under Phillips, McGuinty said the province is changing the process so capital grants won't be handed out through the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration but rather through the Ministry of Public Infrastructure and Renewal.
McCarter found that decisions were made in Colle's office without much consultation with ministry staff.
Some organizations got cash when they didn't really need the money, McCarter added.
The Ontario Cricket Association requested $150,000 but got $1 million -- half of which is now sitting in a GIC account, he said.
"Decisions behind who got what were often based on conversations, not applications,'' McCarter said, adding many organizations said they weren't even aware how the minister knew they needed the money.
"More could have been done and quite frankly, more should have been done.''
Colle said he was under "time constraints,'' was personally familiar with the organizations and had "to get the money out the door quickly,'' McCarter said. But that's not good enough, he added.
"We said you had enough time to do a lot more and you should have done a lot more,'' he said.
Although McCarter said he didn't think organizations received the money because they donated to the Liberal party, he said the lack of a formal application process left the government open to accusations of "favouritism.''
"You need a better process in place,'' he said. "There were serious flaws with the process. When you're spending this kind of money, you shouldn't be loosening accountability controls so you can get the money out the door.''
Colle wasn't available for comment yesterday but issued a statement saying his resignation hasn't changed his plans to run in the election.
"I have always worked hard and been passionate about helping new Ontarians settle, find work and contribute in meaningful ways to our diversity,'' Colle said.
"However the program I administered . . . was ultimately not up to the high administrative standards set in every level of this government. That is the auditor's finding and I accept that finding.''
Conservative Leader John Tory said Colle's resignation wasn't enough, given the Liberals had to be dragged kicking and screaming to bring in the auditor general to investigate this "sorry mess.''
The lack of a formal process showed a "complete lack of respect for the taxpayers' money,'' Tory said.
Since it was Finance Minister Greg Sorbara who approved the year-end grants, Tory said both he and McGuinty should take more responsibility.
"There could be a family out there tonight . . . who have a child with autism waiting for treatment and the cricket club -- with which I have no issue at all -- has $500,000 of the taxpayers' money sitting in a GIC,'' said Tory, vowing to make this an election issue.
"What a sorry commentary that is on Dalton McGuinty and his government.''
New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton said the report is vindication for the opposition, who asked non-stop questions about the year-end cash and endured insinuations of racism.
"I think if the public looks at the whole episode here, it paints a really ugly picture of the McGuinty government,'' Hampton said.
"When you point out that they are doing something wrong, they respond by calling you a racist.''
Hampton said despite attempts by the Liberals to downplay the issue, the accountability factor would remain throughout the election period.
"This issue will continue into the election,'' he said. "It says a lot about the McGuinty government and I think people will hold them accountable for it.''
The Liberals initially voted down an opposition motion in April to have the province's auditor examine how the grants were doled out, adding fuel to the scandal that dominated legislative business for about two weeks.
The following month, McGuinty reluctantly called upon the auditor general to review the year-end grants doled out to multicultural groups after enduring weeks of mounting criticism.
INFO: INSIDE: COLLE A SCAPEGOAT, URQUHART SAYS - A10
ILLUS: Photo: Mike Colle, shown here in a 2005 file photo, was forced to resign yesterday as Ontario's minister of citizenship and immigration. ;
FROM Google alerts- The Star.com
Voices: Grant scandal
Jul 30, 2007 04:42 PM
We asked you whether the auditor general's report about grants to Ontario's multicultural groups will make you less likely to vote for the Liberals this fall.
I am furious with this government for having given millions of dollars to unaccountable sources. I work in the education system, which the province has yet to provide fair funding to. How many special-needs children and learning-disabled kids would have benefited from the $1 million given to a cricket club?
Rita Collins, Colborne, Ont.
What is more interesting about this story is the whopping $15 million grant which the United Jewish Appeal Federation received. With the exception of the Ontario Cricket Association, of the 42 organizations which received grants, the next highest allocated amount weighed in at a mere $500,000.
Ali Sheikh, Mississauga
Yes, I believe that the Government of Ontario is really corrupt. A Cricket Club received $1 million. I am a single parent, on a limited income, with no access to camps or programs in community centers. If there was $32 million to give away, why did they not do it responsibly?
Debbie MacDonald, Toronto
I actually decided against voting Liberal this time when I read your report regarding the spending of $2.4 million of taxpayer money fighting a seven-year court battle against the parents of autistic children.
Carolyn Hood, Toronto
As the parent of a 6-year-old with autism who has been cut off from provincial services by a mean-spirited and reactionary provincial government, I am disgusted that $32 million was available to squander with a wink and a nod while services to families of children with disabilities are woefully underfunded or non-existent. Even to access the pittances available requires us to jump through endless hoops to satisfy requirements. This is in marked contrast to the ease in which Minister Colle handed out his grants.
Robert Shalka, Orleans, Ont.
Yes. The liberals have shown that they're not responsible in managing the budget. It’s ridiculous to think that an organization receives $1 million for cricket and yet the Toronto Police are required to find ways to cut their budget.
Barry Ruhl, Southampton, Ont.
I do not understand the hoopla involving the $1 million cricket grant. It certainly merits question marks and further review. What I want to know is out of the $20 million earmarked for distribution among all of Ontario’s charities, organizations etc, $15 million itself went to the United Jewish Appeal. I would like to know why was so much money went to them alone. Is that not political posturing?
Noam Zander, Toronto
I will absolutely not support the Liberals in the next election and feel there should be a criminal investigation. I assume the minister did not write these cheques himself. Is there no systems of checks and balances on these types of purchases? If not, how much money have other ministers wasted?
Kirsten Barr, Toronto
Corruption in government is nothing new. the ‘Libersatives’ are the only ones we know are corrupt federally because you have to be in power to be corrupt. Let’s vote green and see how long it takes to corrupt them, too.
Larry Laforge, Brampton
I have no problems with sharing our tax dollars with organizations who need help and especially if they involve children's needs. I definitely prefer the money going to good use (no matter what the race or creed) where needed than a high profile minister of provincial government and his buddies going off on golf trips and other such activities (as was the case with the previous governing party) or overpaying CEO's of corporate organizations as has been the case - also with the previous governing party. This definitely wouldn't be enough to sway my vote.
Shelley Gabay, Toronto
As a parent of an autistic child, I find the government’s funding conducts outrageous and sickening. While my son is waiting to receive treatment he needs desperately, the government rushed to hand money to people who don’t need it. How can you tell kids like my son to wait, while giving money to people to put in the bank?
Julie Lin, Toronto
It is very interesting that everyone is screaming about the $1 million grant to CCA. However, out of the $35 million, $15 million went to the Jewish community. That is half of all the funds given out by the minister. The media is only concentrating on the $1 million and the opposition parties do not want to be caught saying much about the $15 million. Very interesting.
Shawn Paltooram, Mississauga
This is just another indication of how sloppy government is with our hard-earned tax dollars. I will be sending the Liberals a message on October 10 that says: 'You're fired'. I hope many others will do the same.
Robert Swift, Point Edward, Ont.
More money wasted; this money should be directed to our floundering cash-strapped cities, because how Toronto is funded has a financial impact on the rest of the country. Don't pull a "Mike Harris" Mr. Premier.
David Smith, Dundas, Ont.
I will definitely NOT be voting Liberal. Toronto is trying to cut costs left, right and centre and the Liberals have the gall to try and buy votes. Is there a group for Canadian-born people who always seem to get the bad end of the deal all the time?
Christine Brennan, Toronto
While I am glad to see that such a generous budget was made available to support new immigrants in Ontario, I am extremely disappointed at how carelessly it has been spent. I hope Mr. Colle will be replaced by someone who will spend our tax dollars more competently.
Shayan Jafrani, Toronto
Why is anyone surprised at this blatant, disregard for our tax dollars? $34 million in grants to these groups when our educational system is cutting programs left, right and centre is just wrong in so many ways.
Karen Harvey, Toronto
I think it's disgusting how taxpayers' money is wasted. Why would a cricket club get a grant when we have people living on the streets. One million dollars is a lot of money that could be used elsewhere. We need a new government. People of Ontario should put their foot down and start speaking out.
Carmen Thieme, Toronto
Supporting charities and community groups is extremely important. However, why is it that the (seemingly cash-strapped) province can shell out millions to community groups while it does not want to provide adequate funding to the City of Toronto and other struggling urban communities on Ontario?
Barbara Wodnicka, Toronto
You keep calling it a scandal. There was no scandal. Just poor paper work. It amazes me how everyone over reacts. If we want perfection, we need God to run everything. None of us are perfect. Please explain to me were scandal was.
Tony Gazzola, St. Catharines, Ont.
I will still definitely vote for the liberals this fall. None of the political parties are perfect if you really want to dissect them, but the Liberals have the least flaws of the lot and the best ideas. Immigrants and ethnic minorities play a very important role in today’s diverse mix of communities. I do not see the harm in helping out these groups and ensuring them success leading to the success of the economy.
Daver Bomi, Toronto
This is nothing new in politics. The Liberal Party has always been noted to throw money around with no concern of the people who pay their wages.
Ellen Coates, Fonthill, Ont.
To me, the Liberals represent(ed) multiculturalism and pro-immigration, but after hearing about this scandal, my perceptions have changed. I am more inclined to vote for the Conservatives. The Liberals have had a few too many scandals.
Menka Walia, Toronto
I respect the Ontario Liberals and McGuinty more than ever over this. I know if it was a mistake made in the Tory party, we'd either never hear of it or they'd deny deny deny. As it is, I'm sure they'll exploit this mistake as far as possible. Expect John Tory to be comparing this with Chrétien starting .... now.
Don Jenkins, Toronto
Is there no commentary on the largest allocation of $15,000,000 to one group? I find the lack of review surprising.
Susan Pugsley, Windsor, Ont.
Punishing the government for handing out $32 million dollars to legitimate cultural groups is like punishing children spending $1 on candy without asking their parents. The notion is silly. To a government spending billions of dollars every year, $15 million is simply pocket change. To expect a government to track every dollar is to expect a citizen to track every penny - something simply impossible. To punish a good government for this is simply absurd.
Frank Zhao, Toronto
So (immigration minister Mike Colle) resigns but he is running for re-election in his own riding? I expected a complete resignation from the Liberal party and won't accept less. What I would like to see is a law where the Ontario people can take him to court and make him give us back our money.
Diana Delgado, Toronto
It is unbelievable that multicultural groups get these huge grants while Christian groups usually get nothing. Our church once asked for help in setting up a youth centre for at-risk youth. We were actually told that it was a great project but not something the government would fund. The project never happened.
Hillar Alkok, Oakville
Just blatant vote buying on behalf of the Liberal party at the expense of the tax payers.
Craig Molineux, Mississauga
FROM A listmate
July 27, 2007 GLOBE AND MAIL (METRO) PAGE: A6 (COLUMN)
McGuinty must shoulder blame for the whole sorry mess
It took a while, but the first wheel finally fell off Dalton McGuinty's government.
Harinder Takhar remains in cabinet because he withstood allegations that he was "egregiously reckless" in the way he handled his business affairs. David Caplan was able to bluster his way through the controversy surrounding insider fraud at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.
But Mike Colle couldn't survive a damning report that concluded he shovelled $32-million to multicultural groups in the province with barely a nod to standard administrative procedures.
The flip thing to say is, as a colleague suggested, that Mr. McGuinty has finally lived up to his promise to phase out Colle by 2007.
But Liberal strategists will be in no mood for humour today, because Mr. Colle's resignation could scarcely have happened at a worse time. We are just 11 weeks from the Oct. 10 election day (surely Mr. McGuinty must now be regretting his zeal for fixed election dates), and there is hardly any time to repair the damage caused by the minister's resignation.
Once again, the Premier will have no one to blame but himself.
The furor over the year-end grants to groups seen to be friendly with the Liberal Party began last April with a story that the Bengali Cultural Society received $250,000.
The story had legs because one of the organization's executives was vice-president of the riding association of Liberal MP Maria Minna.
The next day, we found out that the Iranian-Canadian Community Centre was given $200,000 just three weeks after it registered as a charity and that its directors included a Liberal candidate in the coming election.
The opposition called for Mr. Colle's head. Instead of acceding, the government embarked on what Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory characterizes as days of "denial, ducking and stonewalling."
The grants issue dominated Question Period until Mr. McGuinty could stand it no more and recessed the legislature three weeks early, a few hours before Mr. Colle was scheduled to be grilled before a legislative committee.
The Conservatives asked about 270 questions in that period. They received no answers and, worse, were on the receiving end of insinuations that they were motivated by racist attitudes.
There's a rule in politics that a minister should step aside when he or she becomes the story. The Premier, perhaps emboldened by his success in staring down attacks on Mr. Takhar and Mr. Caplan, broke this rule. He could have dealt with the controversy by kicking Mr. Colle out of his cabinet last April with the prospect that voters would soon forget.
Instead, he allowed it to build momentum and now, with voting day on the horizon, will have to deal with what Auditor-General Jim McCarter said is the reasonable perception that political favouritism underlay the whole sorry mess.
Mr. McGuinty said yesterday that the process Mr. Colle followed was "clearly inadequate," but he shouldn't have needed Mr. McCarter to tell him that. Anyone watching the minister squirm during his daily grilling by reporters would have come to the same conclusion.
In the coming weeks, you will hear a lot from opposition politicians about the cricket association that asked for $150,000 after it was invited to apply for funding and the next day received $1-million. It had so much money that it spent $20,000 to throw a celebratory dinner (at which Mr. McGuinty spoke) and then socked away $500,000 in five-year, investment certificates.
Parents of autistic children or those running bake sales to buy school textbooks will scratch their heads. And thanks to Mr. McGuinty's faulty political instincts, they won't have time to forget before they head to the polls.
700 words / mots.
FROM A LISTMATE
Some don't go to religious schools for religion
Letters to the Editor
Jul 26, 2007 12:07 AM
Re: Province must keep public funds in public schools, editorial, July 19.
As an autism/behaviour consultant, I found this editorial lacking in depth and knowledge of the situation of families raising children with special needs.
This article contradicts itself; first it states, â€œReligion has long since been removed from the curriculum at our public schools ...â€, yet states Catholics having a school board of their own, funded by tax dollars, is OK.
The reasons for this inequality are irrelevant.
Canada is supposed to be a country in which all people are treated equally. This is clearly not the case.
The real issue here is many children with special needs who go to religious schools do not necessarily attend the school for the religious aspect.
Parents send their children to private schools because standard school boards are not meeting the needs of their children.
School boards are spending millions on special education, but it is not the amount of money spent, it is how the money is being spent.
Parents go to meeting after meeting, with many promises made for changes to help their children, but, very often, years go by with no actual action happening.
The money spent on â€œtrainingâ€ staff for specific challenges, such as autism, is often used for one or two-day seminars.
This is insufficient to enable teachers to meet the needs of children with complex challenges, particularly when class numbers are so high.
Educational assistant hours are constantly being decreased, which reduces the chance for children with special needs to meet their full potential.
Parents who spend the most on therapy for autism are â€œpunishedâ€, as their children are then â€œtoo high functioningâ€ to qualify for maximum educational assistant hours.
Parents of children with autism face financial ruin to provide the therapy their children desperately need.
These families deserve to be supported for the extreme sacrifices they make for their children.
An assistive device costs the same in a public or private school.
In many cases, parents, whose child has tried to make it in the regular school system without success, move their child to a private school, where the child makes progress.
It is shameful to say their tax dollars cannot go to the school where they are having success.
If standard schools cannot provide for the needs of a child, then those parentsâ€™ tax dollars should go toward the school that is having success with their child.
That is the bottom line.
Karen Kalpin DSW
Autism program boosted
Tue, July 24, 2007
SARNIA -- A college certificate program in Ontario is being expanded to train more therapists to treat children with autism spectrum disorder.
The expansion of the program to three more colleges brings the total number of participating colleges to 12 across Ontario.
The program is being introduced at Fanshawe College in London, Lambton College in Sarnia and St. Clair College in Windsor.
Children and Youth Services Minister Mary Anne Chambers says the target enrolment is 220 students by 2008-09.
Chambers made the $596,000 funding announcement near Sarnia at the site of a summer camp for autistic children.
Ontario to expand autism therapists training
Last Updated: Monday, July 23, 2007 | 4:05 PM ET
The Canadian Press
A college certificate program in Ontario is being expanded to train more therapists to treat children with autism spectrum disorder.
Three more colleges will soon begin offering the program, announced Children and Youth Services Minister Mary Anne Chambers Monday at a Sarnia-area summer camp for autistic children.
The program is being introduced at Fanshawe College in London, Lambton College in Sarnia and St. Clair College in Windsor, at a cost of $596,000.
That brings the total number of participating colleges to 12 across Ontario.
Chambers said the target enrolment is 220 students by 2008-09.
From an American Listmate
Genie In a Bottle
by Shelley Hendrix Reynolds
For a very simple reason over the last six years, I have clung to the hope that my son Liam was insulated from the emotional distress that can envelope a child when their parents divorce. He has autism.
For once, I had hoped that his exceptionality was a perk, protecting his innocence and preserving his heart. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. With his nonverbal days behind him and his growing conversational skills he can express himself, just like any other child that experiences divorce.
His message this summer? He desperately misses the unified family that he once had. His questions and comments mirror the conversations I have had with his younger sister throughout the years. Is it his fault? Why can't we get back together? Why did you get a divorce? Did you love daddy? Did he love you?
In the early morning hours of September 11, 2001, my ex announced that he was moving out. I always found it ironic that the microcosm of our marriage crumbled on that specific date. While he was pulling out of the driveway, I turned on the television and watched the first tower fall. Life is too short. Take a deep breath and move on.
It didn't take long for our three-year-old daughter, Mairin, to exhibit distress as the War of the Reynolds commenced with intense fighting, the upheaval of shuffling between different living arrangements and screaming at one another to stake claims on personal and community property. The skirmishes in the last months of our marriage were nothing compared to the nuclear fallout of our family's final destruction.
Sweet Liam handled it all in stride. No temper tantrums. No meltdowns. Just a gentle acceptance of an enormous change in his little life. I was so relieved. His flexibility with our rapidly changing family dynamic was clearly a blessing given the typical rigidity he displayed whenever his routine varied.
Finances were tight. For a drowning family, therapy was a necessity but almost a luxury I could not afford for each of us. Emotional triage was required to make ends meet.
Liam had his various therapies to continue to learn to communicate by connecting two words together, to learn his colors and to interact with his peers. Mairin was savvy enough to exhibit her best behavior and hide behind the "everything is ok" wall she had constructed. No matter how many art materials her chipper therapist broke out during the sessions, Mairin would paint a happy picture and then fall apart on the way home, telling me everything I had just paid someone $90 an hour to hear.
For years, I had attended Liam's sessions to stretch our dollars by learning the methods of his various occupational, speech and behavioral therapists and trying to implement them. In that same manner, I realized that I could be more effective by spending half of my own session discussing Mairin's difficulties and getting advice to help her adjust from week to week instead of relying on a stranger to connect with her for one hour every two weeks.
Mairin always had a gift for language and is a wise, old soul. Even at the age of three, she would sit and have significantly complicated conversations with me about the changes in our family and life in general. She was a sea of questions that I would answer as best I could to help her navigate the new emotions in her life.
Not once did I ask my therapist for advice to help Liam adjust. On the surface, he seemed fine. He never said a peep.
Six years later, with a lot of persistence and hard work on everyone's part, Liam expresses himself well. We have long since moved beyond basic communications of frustrated gesticulations, wants and needs to higher planes where he effectively discusses his feelings and thoughts. They aren't the same kinds of conversations I can have with Mairin but they are real and they can be deep.
More often than not, these moments are often punctuated with language that requires the skills of Sherlock Holmes to connect the dots. Sometimes our talks are full of singsong language. Sometimes he uses scenes from movies, and the dialogue from them, to get his point across. Sometimes you have to know him on a very personal level to pick up on his references. But he can do it and has enough perseverance to be certain that you understand what he means.
Out of the blue the other day in the car, Liam told me that it made him sad not to have two parents in the same house like Timmy Turner does on the Fairly Odd Parents. He explained that he remembers when we all lived in the same house, what that house looked like and described events that happened there that I had long forgotten. To hammer his point home, as soon as we got in the house, he ran upstairs and dug through my photo albums in my closet. He found a picture of his dad and me when we were seniors in college -- smiley, happy, just engaged. He thrust it into my hand and said, "See! You and daddy loved each other."
For the first time, I sat him down and explained that we weren't able to work things out. Sometimes mommies and daddies cannot pull it together no matter how hard they try and they get a divorce. His lip quivered. He said, "But I am getting better so you and daddy can get married again." I explained that we still care about each other but that we are not going to get back together and are moving on with our lives. One day, we might get married again, but not to each other. Huge tears rolled down his face as he starting moving toward the backdoor. As he turned the handle, he looked back at me and announced that he was going to go to India to find a genie lamp and make a wish.
It was clear that he was recalling Disney's Aladdin movie to assist him in expressing his feelings. His face, the hope reflected in it was too much -- it broke my heart. What hurt more than that is that I have consistently ignored his emotional issues with regard to our divorce for six years because I couldn't "see" them on his surface even though they were right there. His silent struggle and pain have existed with the same level of intensity as Mairin's.
In every other aspect of his life, I knew and believed that he was absorbing information, that he was learning and growing. Even when I had no proof, when there was no eye contact or glimmer of recognition, I have always had that faith. I have always believed that when I told him how smart, wonderful and handsome he was that he knew what I was saying. Somehow it was bolstering his fragile self-esteem even when he couldn't speak a word. He was in there. Even if he couldn't utter a sound he was listening to the all the things that I told him. I have always talked to him like I would have talked to him if he hadn't had autism.
Why did I let something stop me when it came to this one issue?
With the divorce rate in the autism community verging on 70 percent within the first five years of diagnosis and 90 percent within the first 10, parents are faced with a multitude of special challenges with helping everyone adjust to the unfamiliar.
All children in this situation deserve the love and the respect for their parents to sit down and explain to them what is happening to their family and why, to the extent that it is appropriate for their age, or level of development or maturity. Children with autism are no exception. They need just as much reassurance that it isn't their fault. They need to know that they are loved, unconditionally. They, too, need help to navigate the storms that life brings.
Just because you can't see the storm beneath their surface, it doesn't mean it isn't there.
To post comments, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shelley-hendrix-reynolds/genie-in-a-bottle_b_57189.html .
High school education for kids with special needs ‘in evolution mode’
Wednesday, July 25, 2007 -- Natalie Miller
While past trends shifted kids with disabilities into segregated settings in high schools, times are changing, says a former high school principal.
It’s easier for high schools to place teens with special needs in special education classes, but more and more parents are demanding an inclusive environment for their kids, says Lindsay Moir. Fortunately, younger administrators and school principals, generally, are becoming more open to accommodating parents’ and students’ requests.
“Five years ago, that was a trend,” says Moir, experienced educator and www.oacrs.com columnist, about special education.
He understands why. “High schools are less equipped to handle kids with special needs,” he says. Because students are educated in multiple subject areas by multiple teachers the environment isn’t as conducive to being inclusive as the elementary school system.
“But the world has changed,” says Moir, “especially after exposure to inclusive education in elementary school. There’s a tension there. Although the problem is still there, more and more high school principals, younger administrators and teachers are more susceptive (to integration).”
“I’m seeing creative people who are doing it, but it’s still not enough. We’re kind of in evolution mode.”
Toronto-area parent Lillian Wagman earlier shared concerns with www.oacrs.com about her sons with special needs being pushed in the direction of special education. For Wagman, and parents in her situation, Moir suggests finding examples of inclusive education that work and presenting them to the school staff.
Moir says parents should connect with other parents who have, in conjunction with their child’s school, made inclusive education work. He suggests the Integration Action for Inclusion group (http://www.integration-inclusion.com) as a starting point.
“High schools haven’t caught up with parents’ expectations. Often it doesn’t happen because (educators) don’t know how” to make it work, says Moir.
“Show them where it’s being done and who’s doing it well.”
Autism program funded; ONTARIO PUTS $596,000 INTO COLLEGE PROGRAM TO TRAIN THERAPISTS
Local News - Tuesday, July 24, 2007 @ 16:00
Ontario Liberals will pump $596,000 into a newly created Lambton College program to train therapists for autistic children starting this September, MPP Mary Anne Chambers said Monday.
The minister of child and youth services and training, colleges and universities told a crowd at Point Edward's Bridgeview Public School, which houses an autism summer camp, that the province needs to train more people to work with autistic children to cut long waits for therapy.
"There is no simple solution," Chambers said, noting the wait list has reached 900 children.
"We have to build capacity. We knew we didn't have enough therapists in the system."
Autism spectrum disorder is an illness of the brain that affects social, creative and communication skills. To help bring more qualified therapists online, the province will fund three new programs across southwestern Ontario, including the one-year certificate course at Lambton College. The government estimates enrolment will reach 220 students across the province by the 2008-2009 school year.
Chambers also announced $530,000 to help fund summer camps, like the one at Bridgeview Public School.
The local camp, which teaches children life and social skills and helps them retain their schooling over the summer break, operates on a shoestring budget. It will receive $16,000 from the government, enabling it to hire one additional staff member.
"I'm thrilled to see this program receive the funding," said Cheryl Dart, camp co-ordinator for the Autism Ontario Sarnia-Lambton chapter. "There is a need for it. As it stands now, we're full and I've had to turn people away."
Chambers lauded parents of autistic children who have fought hard for services, but she would not discuss a long legal battle with parents who sued the government over its refusal to fund intensive behavioral intervention therapy for children over six, which has cost Ontario taxpayers $2.4 million.
"When you know what is right you should never give up," she told parents at the announcement. "I thank all of you for being strong advocates."
From a Northern teen with Asperger’s Syndrome
WHATEVER IT TAKES
The Needs of Children and Youth with Asperger’s Syndrome: Family and Service Provider Perspectives
RESEARCH PARTICIPANTS WANTED
for a study on
WHO: mothers of children with Asperger Syndrome
This research involves obtaining the stories of mothers and service providers about the needs of children with Asperger Syndrome.
This will involve a face-to-face (or telephone) interview with mothers and a separate interview with service providers who work in the area.
The interview will take about one hour to one and a half hours, and will take place in a location convenient to you.
All reasonable out of pocket expenses for being in this study eg., meals, babysitters, parking. An honorarium will also be provided.
If you are interested in hearing more about this study, would you please agree to let us release your name and phone number to one of the research assistants on the project who can tell you a little bit more about it?
Or if you prefer, please contact:
Laura Pietrangelo (firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Conte (email@example.com)
Katherine Boydell at 416-813-8469 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
From a Listmate:
NMT Study Seeks Participants
ARI-supported study provides free sessions of non-invasive therapy
The NeuroModulation Technique Research Institute is currently recruiting children ages 5-10 with a diagnosis of autism in 24 cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico to participate in a study to determine if NeuroModulation Technique (NMT) is effective in reducing maladaptive behaviors and increasing adaptive behaviors in children diagnosed with autism.
This research is partially funded with a grant from ARI.
Participants must have had a formal diagnosis of autism for at least one year and meet other eligibility criteria. Children accepted into the study will receive 12 sessions of NMT, twice a week for six weeks. All assessments and treatments will be provided at no cost to participants. NMT is a safe, gentle and non-invasive therapy that has been used to improve functioning in a variety of areas.
Complete study information
Study registration at clinicaltrials.gov
If you know parents who may be interested in having their child
participate in this study, please pass this announcement on to them.
My name is Marti Veliz and I’m a volunteer with the Autism Ontario – Toronto Chapter. The chapter will be holding its annual Ride, Stride and Glide for Autism Cycle on September 23rd at the Thistletown Regional Centre, 51 Panorama Court, Toronto . We at the Toronto Chapter are inviting everyone from the Autism Community living in the GTA and its surrounding communities to come out, join us and participate in our annual event. It is a family oriented event we will have bouncy castles, activities for kids and a free barbeque lunch. For more information about participating, or volunteering for this event I can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please circle this date on your calendar we look forward to seeing you on September 23rd!
Thanking you in advance.
Autism Ontario – Toronto Chapter
2007 Cycle Organizer
From a listmate
NATIONAL POST July 21, 2007 PAGE: A19 (LETTERS)
Re: Ontario Reveals Legal Fight With Parents Of Autistic Children Cost $2.4M, July 18.
Whose interests are served when the province spends an outrageous sum and wastes seven years fighting against families struggling to give their children a fighting chance to be productive members of society? Even if the province had decided to direct that sum toward therapy for children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), 240 lives would have been made immeasurably easier.
Money cannot make an autistic child "better," but the responsible allocation of our tax dollars to assist children and families is one of the fundamental reasons that we all pay taxes.
Randy E. Spiegel, executive Director, Zareinu Educational Centre of Metropolitan Toronto, Toronto.
July 18, 2007THE EDMONTON SUN (FINAL) PAGE: 21 (NEWS)
Red tape hangup
Mom can't get extra help for autistic son
JEREMY LOOME, LEGISLATURE BUREAU
Alberta's labour shortage left Lorna Robb's autistic son without educational help. Now she wants the province to make good with a little summer school.
The Strathcona County mom says her five-year-old son Connor has been without his nine-hour-weekly aide since April, when the aide left the agency the Robbs access via their provincial Project Unit Funding. The agency couldn't find a replacement.
"There's probably a hundred areas that I could scrounge government money from if they'd let me run their chequebook like I run mine," says Robb.
After it determined the family simply couldn't find another aide, the province doubled the home-schooled boy's speech and occupational therapist time from one hour to two hours each per week. But when Robb asked if Connor's unused aide funding could in part be spent on keeping that extra help until the fall, she was turned down flat.
"If you look at any research or writing on autism, the earlier and more intensive the intervention, the better the long-term prognosis for your child is," she said.
Robb is frustrated the government can't make exceptions to hard funding guidelines when, she says, its mismanagement of the provincial economy has contributed to the shortages that plague her family.
Alberta Education spokesman Kathy Telfer said she couldn't discuss specific cases but any change to a funding arrangement would be up to the local school board or the agency delivering the service.
Liberal education critic Jack Flaherty, a former school superintendent, said hardship cases should be flexible. A departmental review of funding for special needs kids going on this summer would be "ideal" to address the question, he said.
"It's a very legitimate concern when the problem is entirely out of the parents' control," he said. "You have to have empathy and understanding for parents who feel that their child has lost that educational time and now needs to catch up."
In the meantime, Robb is going to start taking courses so that, as a last resort, she can learn how to mentor autistic kids and try and address her son's condition.
"The money is there, it's just a matter of getting it. What does it matter if the money is spent in July or in April? It matters that a little boy gets the help he needs or at least the next best that we can do."
ILLUS: photo Lorna Robb sits with autistic son Connor, 5. Robb's efforts to get extra specialized help for her son through the summer have fallen on deaf government ears.
From THE OBSERVER
Where is the transparency?
Editorial - Thursday, July 19, 2007 @ 16:00
For a government that came to office promising openness and transparency, the provincial Liberals have been a major disappointment.
The latest gaffe is its stubborn attempt to conceal how much it spent fighting a lawsuit filed by parents of autistic children.
Using the province's so-called Freedom of Information law, New Democrat Shelley Martel had asked the government for an accounting of the bills racked up fighting a lawsuit that sought intensive autism therapy for children over the age of six.
Instead of co-operating on a simple request, the Liberals dug in, choosing to fight a ruling from Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian to disclose the information.
It all backfired this week when the Superior Court of Justice ruled the costs should be made public, forcing Attorney General Michael Bryant to admit more than $2.4 million has been spent on the seven-year court battle, much of it on lawyers.
The government had argued the legal bills were covered by solicitor-client privilege, but stonewalling to limit political damage seems a much more likely motive.
As Martel aptly pointed out, what the government spent fighting the case could have funded treatment for 50 autistic children for a year.
Cavoukian was also delighted with the ruling, calling it a big win for anyone who believes what government spends on certain legal actions should be public information.
Isn't that just about everybody?
By fighting Martel's request, the Liberals turned what would have been a blip on the news cycling into an embarrassing and potentially damaging story.
This is, after all, the party that promised voters more openness and transparency in government.
FROM Google Alert
Ont. government will release legal bills in autism case: attorney general
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 17, 2007 | 4:25 PM ET
The Canadian Press
The Ontario Liberal government will not appeal a court ruling that requires it to disclose how much it has spent fighting the parents of autistic children in court, Attorney General Michael Bryant said Tuesday.
On Monday, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice rejected the province's request that it not be required to release how much it has spent fighting the lawsuit, brought by parents who wanted the government to cover the cost of intensive autism therapy for children older than six.
Bryant said the government intends to abide by that ruling and make the costs public within 15 days. He said he couldn't reveal the amount immediately because the numbers still have to be compiled.
"Normally with these requests for information they're asking for information the government already has, [but] in this case we don't have a record with aggregate numbers so we're going to have to create that."
New Democrat Shelley Martel had filed a request under the province's Freedom of Information law in 2004 to find out the cost of the province's legal bills but the government twice fought that disclosure.
Martel had argued the legal costs were a matter of public interest, because they would reveal how much money the government wasted on lawyers rather than providing treatment for children.
"For over three years now they have stonewalled me; they have refused my requests to have this information released," Martel said.
"My sense is the reason the government [appealed twice] is because the amount of money here is quite significant and they don't want the public to know."
Crown lawyers had argued the government's legal bills were covered by solicitor-client privilege and shouldn't be disclosed.
"It has always been the position of the attorney general that solicitor-client costs are privileged information, and not just for this case, but for all cases," Bryant said.
From Autism Ontario
>From: "Karyn Dumble"
>Subject: FOR DISTRIBUTION: Weekly News
>Date: Fri, 20 Jul 2007 10:57:27 -0400
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