February 14, 2003
(Health and Community Services)


Province enhances Autism services

Health and Community Services Minister Gerald Smith today announced government will invest an additional $1.88 million over three years for Autism services in the province. With this increased funding, early intensive intervention services will be offered to pre-school aged children who are currently waiting for the service, as well as address the anticipated demand for all new referrals to the program as they arise.

"We recognize the importance of intensive Applied Behavioural Analysis for pre-school aged children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We are making this additional investment because early intensive intervention for children with Autism is the right thing to do," said Minister Smith.

Government is committed to providing services to pre-school aged children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In 1999, 49 children were enrolled in the intensive Applied Behavioural Analysis program. This year, there are 165 children enrolled and receiving early intensive intervention services. "The department continues to monitor the number of children referred to the program, and we have consistently increased our resources to address that need," said Minister Smith

To date, government has spent a total of $4.6 million for early intensive intervention services. The additional money announced today will bring the total investment over the next three years for these services to $7.9 million. "With this increased funding, we will be able to increase the annual capacity for early intensive intervention services from 30 to 45 pre-school aged children," added Minister Smith.

"Our province has done considerable work around providing early intensive intervention services for pre-school aged children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Newfoundland and Labrador first began to offer intensive Applied Behavioural Analysis as a pilot project in 1999. Today, we are one of five provinces providing these services," said Minister Smith.

Minister Smith also said today that government is appealing the recent decision of the Human Rights Adjudicator with respect to wait lists for early intensive intervention programs for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. "Government is concerned with the adjudicator�s ruling. We feel that the wait list for early intensive intervention programs is not discriminatory and we will be asking the court for a further ruling on this matter," stated the minister.

When the application is filed, the court will assign a date on which the parties will attend for the purpose of setting a date for the actual hearing.

Media contact: Diane Keough, Communications, (709) 729-1377.

2003 02 14                                        4:15 p.m.

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