It's been a long, long while since I've posted on here. Why? Well, if you haven't been around, you might see something different. Or check out the logo above.
We moved. Far. Thousands of kilometres, in fact.
You might think me crazy to uproot the entire family and move to the other side of the country... but hear me out, then you might change your mind.
I posted quite some time ago about the end of early intervention for A.
In that post, I asked... what to do? Well, we figured it out. We left. We followed the services... and there are many to be had in Alberta.
Let's start with A. Once IBI ends in Ontario, there is very little in the way of supports. Yes, you can get the ABA program in Ontario now, but they are barred from entering the schools and there are waiting lists. The quality of service is quite variable and the treatment protocol is indirect; it is a consultative service mostly geared to help parents cope. Supports in the schools are even worse. Every school board has its own policies in terms of what placements are available (and even when offered they may be full). Boards have "specialists" but you're lucky if your kid's teacher gets a consult once a year let alone direct service. In short, it sucks. Life after IBI is not so good if after it's done, your kid still needs a lot of help.
Let's begin with schooling. Ontario schools do a very poor job of educating kids with ASD. Yes, there are some schools and some teachers and some principals who really do try, but they have no training (a weekend workshop on autism does not an expert make), and staffing levels can change at a moment's notice. The biggest issue in Ontario is that special education grants go to the school board and there is no accountability in how that money is spent.
There are private school options in Ontario if you live in Toronto or Ottawa. Tuition cost? $56,000 per year. Not affordable by a long shot. What about in Calgary? Yes, there is, and good news, it's $12,000 per year. How is this possible? One very important reason. Alberta funds private schools and not only that, special education grants are tied to the student and go directly to the school in which they attend. How about that? What a logical idea. The money that the government allocates for my kid is ... spent on my kid. Neat.
Moving onto T on the school front. In Ontario T would have half-time junior kindergarten (with us not living in a designated area for full day yet) in a classroom with 25 kids with zero support. Here, T gets to attend a specialized pre-school with 10 kids, a teacher's aide, and a speech pathologist or occupational therapist in the room all the time. No, not a once a year consult, but like direct therapy because these therapists are on staff at the school. Not the board. The school. And we pay nothing for this, because guess what? The school gets a grant for T and yet again, it's used to educate him. Huh.
What about other supports? There's lots:
- Respite supports so Mom and I can go out on dates or have time to ourselves.
- Overnight help for A when her sleeping is sucking.
- Community support to allow A and T to enjoy things typical kids do like swimming lessons or classes.
- Direct speech language, occupational and physiotherapy to help the kids development.
- Board Certified Behaviour Analyst to work with before mentioned team to work on behavioural issues and general learning.
- Support to hire one-on-one aides to work with the kids on skills.
There's no waiting list. There's no bloated government bureaucracy that controls the funds or provides services at stupidly high rates when the private sector could do it more efficiently. It's all about parent choice.
Still wondering why we moved? We're not. Well, maybe when it's -30 degrees outside. But otherwise, not so much!