J & J's Gibberish J & J's Gibberish: Happy Autism Day on the Hill!

J & J's Gibberish: Happy Autism Day on the Hill!

J & J's Gibberish: Happy Autism Day on the Hill!

One mother's weekly journey in raising her special needs children. 

Photos courtesy of Quick Start Early Intervention Autism Day 2017

Today is the 6th Annual Autism Day on the Hill.  (April is Autism Awareness Month and April 2 which fell on Easter this year, is International Autism Day).

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the most common neurodevelopmental disorder diagnosed among children in Canada: One in 66 children is affected. ASD results in complex health, mental health and social issues and needs across a lifespan.  I have discovered that this is true as different elements of ASD pop up as issues at different times.  That has been my experience with my beloved Jacob.  It can be exhausting to be honest.  

Much of the focus today is to raise awareness of the issues around ASD.  Today will celebrate how early intervention can make a big difference.  In fact, Quick Start Early Intervention for Autism which advocates for people living with autism and their families, is one of the organizers of today and they say the evidence is clear that the earlier a diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome.   That is wonderful and advocacy for early intervention is great.

To be the bad guy here, when you get a later-in-life diagnosis, as we did for Jacob, you can feel alone.  The strategies that work on little kids don’t work for older ones and the system is not equipped to deal with that yet. Advocacy groups are so focused on little kids and have been effective at getting the system’s attention on little ones, that older kids can get left out in the cold.

So, today will also be a chance to underline that we lack a National Autism Strategy in Canada. There is a piecemeal approach to services and a lot of people fall through the cracks as service levels vary across the country for every age group.

A National Autism Strategy would help with that. As Senator Jim Munson said in an op-ed yesterday: “A National Autism Strategy is a pathway to address these complex needs that involve multiple sectors and partners, governments, clinicians, practitioners, researchers, community-based support organizations and businesses. It inspires government organizations from health, mental health, education, social services, justice, employment, and housing to work together around common understandings and goals. A National Autism Strategy is a statement of leadership.”  Amen to that.

Drive by the Hill between 12:15 to 12:45 and on the steps by the Peace Tower, you will see a sea of autism pins and banners with the pictures of people living with autism.

In 2010, 70 people showed up and the first faces of autism banner was created.  This year, there are 275 people on the banner and today, people living with autism will actually speak, alongside Mike Lake, MP and Senator Jim Munson, tireless advocates for autism awareness on the Hill.

If you drive by today, honk in support.

Every Canadian with autism, no matter where they live, and no matter how old they are, should have support and access.  So should their families.

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