We should do more to help children with special needs

We should do more to help children with special needs We have spent the past few weeks eagerly anticipating a new budget for Yukon. As parents of two children with special needs, we are painfully aware of the services needed for many Yukon children. Two y

We have spent the past few weeks eagerly anticipating a new budget for Yukon. As parents of two children with special needs, we are painfully aware of the services needed for many Yukon children.

Two years ago, we – and our daughter’s pediatrician – requested an educational assistant to work with her in her kindergarten classroom. At that time she was on a wait-list to be assessed by mental health workers.

That assessment was finally done this spring. We are yet to receive the paperwork that states that she is on the autism spectrum, having presented with Asperger’s.

To date, she is in her Grade 2 classroom with a “floater” EA. Most of the time, this works. Sometimes, she has a meltdown and there is no one who can take the time to focus their undivided attention on her. (Meltdowns might be prevented if there were someone there to do so.)

On those occasions, the end result is that she has to come home to spend the afternoon without the social interaction with her peers and the classroom lessons she desperately needs. On one occasion, she fled from gym class to be found an hour later hiding in the school. We won’t even think about what could have happened had she chosen to run out of the school. She did so on one occasion but was with another child and they hid in the bushes.

We could go on and on with examples of times when our daughter’s well-being has been put at risk – not because the staff of the school are not trying their best – because she does not have the one resource that would ensure her safety and enhance her educational experience: an educational assistant.

Our youngest is four years old. He was born with Erb’s palsy and has been assessed on the autism spectrum. He has been a client of the Child Development Centre since infancy. They provide him with social interaction through a special needs preschool program, one-on-one play therapy, speech therapy and physiotherapy.

The CDC is his best chance to be “school-ready” when he reaches kindergarten age. These services are not available during the summer months. This means that our son, along with all the other children who benefit from the excellent services provided by the staff of CDC, is “playing catch-up” every September when he is re-introduced to programs.

This brings us to the crux of this letter. The Yukon Party has announced that it will provide $100 for school supplies for every child in Yukon. While there are many parents who cannot afford school supplies, those who are on income assistance do receive extra money in August for these purchases.

We are confident that parents for whom the purchase of supplies does not present a hardship will agree that we can do better. We see the handout as a blatant attempt to “buy” votes which tends to be the “go-to” action of conservative governments who see the writing on the wall in an election year.

Our message to the Yukon Party is that they must put that money to much better use. The number of education assistants could be increased throughout the territory. The CDC could be funded in such a way as to provide much-needed programming in the summer months. The number of mental health workers could be increased to ensure that no more children sit on a wait list for over two years in order to get an assessment that all professionals agree is better done at the youngest age possible.

Governing is a matter of choices. This government has chosen to put its electoral needs ahead of the very real needs of Yukon children.

Richard Gartner

and Cassie Larocque


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An avalanche warning sigh along the South Klondike Highway. Local avalanche safety instructors say interest in courses has risen during the pandemic as more Yukoners explore socially distanced outdoor activities. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News file)
Backcountry busy: COVID-19 has Yukoners heading for the hills

Stable conditions for avalanches have provided a grace period for backcountry newcomers

Several people enter the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Coast High Country Inn Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 26. The Yukon government announced on Jan. 25 that residents of Whitehorse, Ibex Valley, Marsh Lake and Mount Lorne areas 65 and older can now receive their vaccines. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Vaccine appointments available in Whitehorse for residents 65+

Yukoners 65 and older living in Whitehorse are now eligible to receive… Continue reading

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read