By Mayya Assouad | Global News
HALIFAX – Almost a year after her daughter was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, Jennifer Morris says she is still on the wait list for a behavioural intervention program.
Now, Morris says she worries the long wait could affect her daughter Sadie, who was four years old when she was diagnosed, because experts say early intervention is crucial.
“From diagnosis to treatment time, years are passing for most kids and that time is extremely valuable,” Morris said. “It makes it doubly frustrating to know that we have such a great program through the IWK but we can’t access it.”
Dr. Isabel Smith, a clinical psychologist at the IWK Health Centre, says early intensive behavioural intervention (EIBI) programs can help children with autism in several ways.
“The program in Nova Scotia is specifically designed to try to enhance the ability of children to relate to other people, adults and their peers, and to improve their language and other non-verbal communication skills,” she said.
There are currently 44 children taking part in the program at the hospital, and 89 more are waiting to get in.
Allison Garber, whose son is also on the wait list, says the fact there are “more than double the [number of] kids are on the wait list than actually being treated in the program” is “troubling” to her, and Morris agrees.
Two weeks ago, the two mothers started a petition to support quicker access to early intervention, and so far it has garnered 1,251 signatures.