More supports needed for autistic children

More supports needed for autistic children Re: Whitehorse parent pleas for more support for autistic daughter (The News, Dec. 1): I am glad to see this issue come forward. I have a five-year-old daughter with autism spectrum disorder who also experience

Re: Whitehorse parent pleas for more support for autistic daughter (The News, Dec. 1):

I am glad to see this issue come forward. I have a five-year-old daughter with autism spectrum disorder who also experiences meltdowns and behavioral difficulties.

She is nonetheless a wonderful, happy and smart child. For children with autism spectrum disorder, sensory regulation is the most important thing, based on her level of need; without someone there to read her cues one-on-one, it is very hard to help her regulate her senses causing a meltdown.

What causes a meltdown can vary from child to child. It could be an extreme discomfort in his or her environment. Noises that are common to us may be painful to the ears of a child with autism spectrum disorder, and crowds of children at school may make a child with autism spectrum disorder anxious.

In my experiences, meltdowns can look like crying, hitting, biting and other harmful behaviors. It is challenging as a parent to have your child cause harm to herself based on discomfort. This behaviour also places the other students at risk of harm. That’s why my daughter’s school has developed a safety plan, behavioral plan and individual education plan to aid in her functioning in a healthy way.

An educational assistant and one-on-one support is vital for my child. I really do send positive thoughts to Russ and Molly, and I hope that support is found based on her needs.

The Child Development Centre is very valuable; it aids children with special needs until the age of five. However, it is very challenging once children are in school to get that same support.

We have amazing people in student support services. However, a child with special needs can go without receiving needed help, as supports are limited and also shared with our rural communities. I hope to see increased funding for developmental therapists, occupational therapists and child psychologists in Yukon.

As a parent, you have to search for services and see what we have available, then really be pro-active and advocate for your child. It’s hard, it gets frustrating, but you have to stay positive and really build relationships with people. Some of these services include: Autism Yukon, Special Olympics Yukon and Family Support for Children with Disabilities.

One area that these services lack in is child therapy; one-on-one talking, play therapy etc. We want all our children to have what they deserve: a positive, safe and productive education. We have outgrown the services offered here. We need to come together and get more funds.

Lisa Creighton

Whitehorse

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