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Facing Autism in New Brunswick: A Positive Adult Autism Meeting with Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers

Minister of Social Development Cathy Rogers Photo Source: NB Liberal Site  On July 14, together with autism advocate Cynthia Bartlett and Clinical Psychologist and Professor Emeritus (Psychology) Paul McDonnell I met with social Development Minister Cathy Rogers and 3 of her advisers.  The meeting had been requested by Minister Rogers when it became . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: A Positive Adult Autism Meeting with Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: A Positive Adult Autism Meeting with Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers

Minister of Social Development Cathy Rogers
Photo Source: NB Liberal Site 


July 14, 2015 Meeting with Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers
at 551 King Street, Photo by Harold L Doherty

On July 14, together with autism advocate Cynthia Bartlett and Clinical Psychologist and Professor Emeritus (Psychology) Paul McDonnell I met with Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers and 3 of her advisers.  The meeting had been requested by Minister Rogers when it became clear in the Legislature gallery that I, and presumably some others in the gallery, were unhappy with the government’s response to opposition MLA Ernie Steeves motion on adult autism care.  Bathurst MLA Brian Kenny, with whom I had spoken during our small demonstration outside the Legislature earlier that day was talking to Minister Rogers and pointing up at me.  A short time later Mr. Kenny came up to the visitors’ gallery and asked me to come out to the hall where Minister Rogers asked me if we could schedule a meeting to which I agreed.  I was thankful for the opportunity to address the adult autism care issues which have never been addressed in any coherent, systematic and well informed manner.  I was very pleased that Cynthia and Paul were available to attend at the meeting and share their experience and expertise.


The principle around which our discussion took place was the same principle on which those of us who advocated as parents for early autism intervention in NB  relied on in our successful advocacy efforts – the need for an evidence based approach. Fortunately the Minister and her advisers seemed to be in agreement with this principle at outset and needed no convincing.  That may not sound like much today but it was not always an easy sell in our early advocacy efforts in a province where clichés about community and inclusion are often sold as solutions to the most challenging disorders and deficits.


The evidence with respect to adult autism care in NB is clear: we do not have a plan to address in a humane, professional, reliant manner the needs of autistic adults, particularly those at the severe end of the spectrum, in New Brunswick.  We have housed New Brunswick ‘s autistic adults in a variety of hospital settings from general hospital wards to the Restigouche  Regional Psychiatric Hospital in Campbellton far from the bulk of NB’s population, far from most families.  We have housed a NB autistic youth on the grounds of the Miramichi Correctional Facility only because no other location had the resources to provide proper care and safety.  That youth and at least one young man were sent to the Spurwink facility in Maine for several years at a cost to the Province of approximately $300,000 per year per person.


What we discussed was the proposal developed largely by Paul McDonnel with input from parent advocates including Dawn Bowie, Lila Barry, Cynthia Bartlett and me and enunciated in principle in his 2010 CBC internet interview and analysis:


September 2010, CBC, N.B. can be a leader in autism services (Analysis, Paul McDonnell)

“Our greatest need at present is to develop services for adolescents and adults.

What is needed is a range of residential and non-residential services and these services need to be staffed with behaviorally trained supervisors and therapists.Some jurisdictions in the United States have outstanding facilities that are in part funded by the state and provide a range of opportunities for supervised and independent living for individuals with various disabilities. The costs of not providing such services can be high financially and in terms of human costs. As a psychologist in private practice I know there are large numbers of older individuals who are diagnosed later in life with Asperger’s Syndrome that have no access to professional services of any kind.

In the past we have had the sad spectacle of individuals with autism being sent off to institutional settings such as the Campbellton psychiatric hospital, hospital wards, prisons, and even out of the country at enormous expense and without any gains to the individual, the family, or the community.

We can do much, much better.

We need an enhanced group home system throughout the province in which homes would be linked directly to a major centre that could provide ongoing training, leadership and supervision. That major centre could also provide services for those who are mildly affected as well as permanent resident care and treatment for the most severely affected. Such a secure centre would not be based on a traditional “hospital” model but should, itself, be integrated into the community in a dynamic manner, possibly as part of a private residential development. The focus must be on education, positive living experiences, and individualized curricula. The key to success is properly trained professionals and staff.

There was also discussion of some of the serious issues that often accompany autism including intellectual disability, seizures, self injury, wandering and the need for surveillance of some autistic adults to ensure their safety.


The Minister did not make any clear commitments, at least as far as I understood our discussion.  She did say that other departments would have to included in the discussion, a point on which we agreed.

My assessment is that the meeting was positive and that the Minister sees autism care as a need that really has to be addressed in New Brunswick.


It is up to parents though, as it always has been, to keep these needs in the forefront if we want decent places for our children to live as adult; places where they can live  happy lives, according to their level of need,  with proper health care, education and security.

. . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: A Positive Adult Autism Meeting with Social Development Minister Cathy Rogers

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: New Brunswick and Ontario Fail to Address Needs of Adults with Autism Disorders and their Families

Image from a CBC  British Columbia article in December 2014 Reporting on  Ground Breaking of  Construction on the $28-million Pacific Autism Family Centre  in Richmond, B.C..(Pacific Autism Family Centre)

British Columbia, Ontario and New Brunswick are 3 Canadian Provinces at different points on the adult autism care and treatment “spectrum”.  British Columbia leads with . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: New Brunswick and Ontario Fail to Address Needs of Adults with Autism Disorders and their Families

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Adult Autism Center Information Protest At The Legislature May 28 at 1:30

Autism Advocacy NB Event:  Adult Autism Center Information Protest

Where: NB Legislature Grounds, Fredericton

When: Thursday, May 28 at 1:30

Who: Anyone who wishes to advocate for an adult autism center as the first step in building a comprehensive adult autism care and treatment network with locations in communities around the Province . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Adult Autism Center Information Protest At The Legislature May 28 at 1:30

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: THANK YOU Conservative MLA Jake Stewart and NDP Leader Dominic Cardy For Speaking Up In Support Of Adult Autism Care and Treatment in New Brunswick

New Brunswick governments have been outstanding in establishing an internationally recognized early evidence based autism intervention service and have made some gains in autism training for Education Aides and Resource Teachers.   There has been no progress though  in establishing an autism centre for adult treatment and permanent residential care for severely impacted . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: THANK YOU Conservative MLA Jake Stewart and NDP Leader Dominic Cardy For Speaking Up In Support Of Adult Autism Care and Treatment in New Brunswick

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: 19 Year Old Non Verbal Autistic Man Evicted From Miramichi Special Care Home Because He Is An Adult

Huge gaps remain n New Brunswick’s adult autism residential care and treatment system. An autism specific residential care and treatment centre and autism specific group home system is needed to bridge those gaps. 

HON. CATHY ROGERS Minister of Social Development HON. VICTOR BOUDREAU Minister of Health HON. BILL FRASER  MLA Miramichi  HON. STEPHEN . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: 19 Year Old Non Verbal Autistic Man Evicted From Miramichi Special Care Home Because He Is An Adult

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Dear Elected Representatives: New Brunswick Needs Adult Autism Residential Care and Treatment

Dear Hon. Premier Gallant, Deputy Premier Horsman,Speaker Collins,  Ministers, Party Leaders and Government Advisers: Re New Brunswick’s Lack of Adult Autism Care: I am sure that you are all grappling with important issues in these weeks following a provincial election. Many issues have generated intense discussion and serious attention from all of our public leaders.  . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Dear Elected Representatives: New Brunswick Needs Adult Autism Residential Care and Treatment

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Canada’s Autism Awareness Month Message: Autistic Children Become Autistic Adults

Autism Awareness Month: Autistic Children Become Autistic Adults October is Autism Awareness Month in Canada.  As a father of an 18 year old son with severe autism disorder, profound developmental delays (like 50% of the autism spectrum according to the World Health Organization) and seizures which also affect many with autism I can tell . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Canada’s Autism Awareness Month Message: Autistic Children Become Autistic Adults

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: NB’ers with Severe Autism Disorders Are Not Included in New Brunswick’s "Inclusive Community"

New Brunswick’s “inclusive” “community living” model is not a bridge to a better life for adults with autism disorders.  There are huge gaps in the model.  Group home staff are not autism trained and are not professionally supervised.  Those who don’ fit in, including those with severe autism disorders are excluded, banished to live . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: NB’ers with Severe Autism Disorders Are Not Included in New Brunswick’s "Inclusive Community"

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Dear Mr Alward, Cardy, Coon, Gallant: New Brunswick Still Needs A Permanent Residential Care and Treatment Centre For Severely Autistic Adults

Photo of my son Conor from a few years ago submitted to the Aquinian for an article by  then Aquinian journalism student Karissa Donkin. No progress in residential care and  treatment for severely autistic adults in New Brunswick has been made since that  article or since Conor’s autism diagnosis 16 years ago at . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Dear Mr Alward, Cardy, Coon, Gallant: New Brunswick Still Needs A Permanent Residential Care and Treatment Centre For Severely Autistic Adults

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Support and Care for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder in New Brunswick – The Report of the University of Calgary School of Public Policy

“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurological condition estimated to affect as many as one in 88 children. It is now the most common neurological disorder affecting children and one of the most common developmental disabilities. Many individuals living with ASD will need some level of support over their entire lives. In cases . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Support and Care for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder in New Brunswick – The Report of the University of Calgary School of Public Policy

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: They Just Don’t Give A Damn: 2007 Adult Autism Care and Treatment In New Brunswick Was Abysmal – 2014 Nothing Has Changed, Still Abysmal

Following this comment is a re-posting of a comment I posted on this site 7 years ago in 2007 about the abysmal state of autism youth and adult residential care and treatment in New Brunswick, Canada. 7 years later and nothing has changed. Well, one thing has changed, a very important part of my life . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: They Just Don’t Give A Damn: 2007 Adult Autism Care and Treatment In New Brunswick Was Abysmal – 2014 Nothing Has Changed, Still Abysmal

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: 8 Years Later: Autism Youth & Adult Residential Care & Treatment Still Abysmal in New Brunswick

In May 2007 I commented on this site about the abysmal state of Youth and Adult Residential Care in New Brunswick. That commentary included the October 2005 article by then Toronto Star journalist Kelly Toughill who is apparently now a Director and Associate Professor in the School of Journalism at the University . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: 8 Years Later: Autism Youth & Adult Residential Care & Treatment Still Abysmal in New Brunswick

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: What Happens To Our Children When We Die? Maine Man Killed Himself and Adult Autistic Son in 2010

“Ginger Taylor  commented on the pressures on families with autism and on the greatest fear of many parents of autistic children: “That is the big question — what happens to our child when we die. …. We understand their needs better than anyone else. It really breaks my heart hearing what happened to this family. . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: What Happens To Our Children When We Die? Maine Man Killed Himself and Adult Autistic Son in 2010

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: 10 Years of NB Government Inaction On Adult Autism Care: Is It Possible Our Elected Leaders Just Don’t Care?

It is increasingly difficult to be polite when discussing the lack of compassion demonstrated by NB governments towards New Brunswick’s adult autism population. As the letter from Gary Mayes to the Telegraph Journal in 2005 demonstrates, after two years, at that time, of flat refusals to act, the refusal of our governments to address . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: 10 Years of NB Government Inaction On Adult Autism Care: Is It Possible Our Elected Leaders Just Don’t Care?

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Will New Brunswick Ever Act To Provide Adult Autism Residential Care?

The Campbellton Based Restigouche Psychiatric Hospital  is the Only NB Based Residential Care Option for Severely  Autistic Adults in New Brunswick

June 22, 2013 David Alward, Premier’s Council on Status of Disabled Persons  Hugh J Flemming, Minister of Health  Madeline Dube, Minister of Social Development  Dorothy Shephard, Minister of Healthy and Inclusive Communities 

Dear . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Will New Brunswick Ever Act To Provide Adult Autism Residential Care?

Facing Autism Symptoms in New Brunswick: No Meaningful Inclusion, No Community Living for NB Youth and Adults With Severe Autism Challenges

                                              Resigchouche Regional Hospital Centre

As an Autism Society New Brunswick representative I attended a meeting held at the Restigouche Regional Hospital Centre a few years ago to participate in a . . . → Read More: Facing Autism Symptoms in New Brunswick: No Meaningful Inclusion, No Community Living for NB Youth and Adults With Severe Autism Challenges

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Adults with Autism Disorders Not on the Political Agenda In Nova Scotia or New Brunswick

Conor at Black Rock on the Minas Basin, the eastern extremity of the Bay of Fundy, shared by New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and home of the highest tides in the world.  NB and NS also share a lack of commitment to helping autistic, particularly severely autistic,  youth and adults.

Nova Scotia is . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Adults with Autism Disorders Not on the Political Agenda In Nova Scotia or New Brunswick

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Justice? Severe Adult Autism Reality In California

Kim Oakley author of  Autism, Epilepsy and Self-Injurious Behavior has broken the autism feel good cliche glass, again, in No Justice for Severely-Autistic Adult in California a comment about Van Ingraham “a severely- autistic man who had his neck broken in 2006, while living at Fairview Hospital, one of California’s Developmental Center’s that serves the forgotten . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Justice? Severe Adult Autism Reality In California