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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 


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: 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: Historic Discussion of Adult Autism Care and Treatment in the New Brunswick Legislature May 28, 2015

Autism Advocacy in front of the New Brunswick Legislature, autistic persons, family and friends gather with MLA Ernie Steeves to advocate for Adult Autism Care and Treatment

It was an historic day at the New Brunswick Legislature yesterday as discussion and debate began on issues of adult autism care and treatment for the . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Historic Discussion of Adult Autism Care and Treatment in the New Brunswick Legislature May 28, 2015

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Sebastien’s Sad and Scary Adult Autism Reality in Moncton, New Brunswick

When autistic persons in New Brunswick turn 21 particularly severely autistic adults services many services will no longer be available. For severely autistic adults adulthood can be bleak, sad and scary. This is Sebastien’s story, a severely autistic 21 year old from Moncton, New Brunswick … as told by his obviously heartbroken and scared mother . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Sebastien’s Sad and Scary Adult Autism Reality in Moncton, New Brunswick

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: Dear Premier Elect Gallant: Please Develop the Adult Autism Care System NB Has Needed for So Long

September 25, 2014

Premier  Elect Brian GallantProvince of New Brunswick

Dear Mr. Gallant:

 “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 . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Dear Premier Elect Gallant: Please Develop the Adult Autism Care System NB Has Needed for So Long

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Today I Voted For My Autistic Son’s Future; Today I Voted NDP

Conor 18 1/2 with severe autism disorder, profound developmental delay,  seizures, sensory issues and self aggressive behavior.  Few, if any group home  staff would be able or inclined to provide the care he needs, A residential care and treatment facility for Conor and other severely autistic adults with complex needs has long been . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Today I Voted For My Autistic Son’s Future; Today I Voted NDP

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Autism and the Liberal Party 2014 Election Platform: Nothing on Autism – No Adult Autism Care Centre

The Liberal platform is published and there are no commitments to address autism issues, no mention of autism disorders.  In particular there is no mention of any intention to change the current system of adult autism care from generic group homes lacking autism trained staff, hospital wards, the Regional (in fact the only) tertiary . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Autism and the Liberal Party 2014 Election Platform: Nothing on Autism – No Adult Autism Care Centre

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: NB Adult Autism Residential Care Facility Needed: "It Is More Than Overdue" "When Will They Ever Learn?"

My 18 year old severely autistic son Conor waits for his slow poke Dad while we were out  on a trail walk (Fredericton North Riverfront Trail). NB has known for 15 years (at least)  that an adult autism residential care and treatment facility is badly needed.   We are still waiting. On June 18, 2014 . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: NB Adult Autism Residential Care Facility Needed: "It Is More Than Overdue" "When Will They Ever Learn?"

Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Election 2014: Will Severely Autistic Adults Continue to Suffer Under An Alward Government As They Have Since 2010?

New Brunswick has made progress in early intervention and student autism services but adult autistic needs, particularly severely autistic adults, have been ignored, completely ignored during the last 4 years.  The article below originally appeared during the last provincial election period posted on Tuesday, September 14, 2010.   Zero progress, absolutely zero progress has been seen . . . → Read More: Facing Autism in New Brunswick: Election 2014: Will Severely Autistic Adults Continue to Suffer Under An Alward Government As They Have Since 2010?

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: 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: Ottawa Citizen’s Bridge to Nowhere: Canada’s Broken Adult Autism Care System

Long time members of the Autism Society New Brunswick, particularly those from the Fredericton area, will recognize in the picture above former NB’er Linda Murphy and her daughter Ashley who has severe autism and is now 19. They are featured in Autism’s New Frontiers PART 2: ‘The bridge to nowhere’. A few years ago . . . → Read More: Facing Autism Symptoms in New Brunswick: Ottawa Citizen’s Bridge to Nowhere: Canada’s Broken Adult Autism Care System