BC did not always have funding for behaviour treatment for children with autism. In 1997 a group of families founded Families for Early Autism Treatment or FEATbc, to raise awareness of research in ABA behaviour treatment. FEATbc organized parents who pitched in $5000 each for two lawsuits.
In the Auton 2000 lawsuit, parents argued that denying their children medically necessary ABA treatment was discrimination under the Canadian Rights and Freedoms act. If ABA was provided through medicare, this would greatly improve access to ABA in the schools. This lawsuit was won in BC, but later struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada. The Auton 2000 decision is an excellent read to see the historical state of things in BC prior to 2000. It is thanks to the BC findings that there were many changes made in BC which included individualized funding for autism treatment (where previously there was nothing) as well as an acceptance that ABA was the best treatment for autistic children. We need to be forever grateful to those families who sacrificed their time and money for this lawsuit.
The Hewko (2005) lawsuit was started to fight for the right to ABA in BC classrooms. This lawsuit was won in BC and never appealed. In short, parents have the right to be part of the collaborative IEP process and they must be listened to and taken seriously. Secondly, the school must have instructional control over the child. This second part is very powerful for making sure there is an ABA trained aide with your child. However, getting an ABA trained aide is still not a guarantee. In some BC districts, parents continue to struggle or have to threaten to sue, while in other districts well trained ABA aides are provided. The ABA Support Network will be working to improve access to ABA paraprofessionals in all school districts. If you are having difficulty with your district, you may contact us for advice or support.
Read the ASBC-FEAT of BC Hewko Interpretation here.
Other Parent Initiatives
On November 9, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) handed down a landmark decision on disability rights. The Moore 2012 case says that students with disabilities are entitled to receive the accommodation measures they need to access and benefit from the service of public education. In this regard, the Court said that adequate special education is not “a dispensable luxury”. The Court acknowledged that such measures serve as “the ramp that provides access to the statutory commitment to education made to all children in British Columbia.” Read a Summary of Key Points.
Medicare for Autism Now is an organization with grass roots in BC. This group of families started an initiative to have autism treatment covered under medicare in Canada
BCEdAccess is an organization of parents seeking better inclusion in schools.
What Can You Do?
Keep informed. Watch ABA in Schools and Advocacy videos on our Web Series and Workshops page.
The Association for Science in Autism Treatment has an excellent website with information for parents about becoming savvy consumers at evaluating treatment options and service providers at http://www.asatonline.org. They also publish a free quarterly e-newsletter.
• Read and understand the Auton and Hewko decisions. These decisions outline critical facts which you can use to advocate for your children’s treatment both at home and in school.
• Get active during elections! Understand that School Board Trustees, MLA’s and MP’s are elected officials whose job is to serve their constituents. Parents CAN affect the outcome of elections.
PAY IT FORWARD so that a stronger ABA community can make it easier for families to advocate for their children