Autistic Adults Being Left Behind: Parents

By JAMIE LONG, Ottawa Sun
Last Updated: December 26, 2010 9:35pm

Martin Couture, left, stands with his mother Rolande and his father Laurent. Couture, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, has been unable to hold down a job, but is having a hard time getting financial support.

Ottawa is lagging behind the rest of Ontario in supporting adults with autism and their families, according to a local support group.

United Families of Eastern Ontario — which consists of families of adults and children suffering from all developmental disabilities — says it wants answers from the ministry of community and social services after the province failed to nail down a local support office in eastern Ontario.

These central points or “hubs” are aimed at making the system more consistent across regions, according to the ministry, which told the Sun it couldn’t
explain why a point wasn’t found, but did say it was “not connected to insufficient resources.”

“In the meantime, access to developmental services in Ottawa, including for autism, continues to be through the current access mechanism, Service Coordination,” said Charlotte Wilkinson, a ministry media coordinator.

Heather Fawcett, who co-wrote “More than a Mom” — a how-to guide for parents with children with special needs — said right now there is too much inconsistency between regions in Ontario.

“There aren’t any specialized services created through the government, so non-profits and other groups have to pick up the slack,” said Fawcett, who has
a 20-year-old daughter with Asperger’s Syndrome, a higher-functioning form of autism.

“We’re dealing with an outdated system.”

Jocelyn Brault is the support group’s co-chair and she is concerned her 20-year-old daughter Catherine is not getting the developing care she needs.

“It’s a living hell and there’s just not enough support, either respite for parents or services for children,” said Brault, whose daughter has a low-functioning form of autism and requires a lot of support.

She added it took extremely violent behaviour five years ago before her daughter was even placed in a home.

Rolande Couture’s son Martin, 31, also lives with Asperger’s.

He moved out for the first time two years ago and even though he has two degrees, Martin can’t keep a job due to his lack of social skills, the main barrier for those with autism.

He now lives on savings alone, as his Employment Insurance has run out.

But he can’t apply for disability insurance until he hits rock bottom, so his parents try to help the best they can.

Parents the Sun spoke to all agreed the high costs and constant work required to help their adult children is overwhelming and a contact point would help

The ministry said it hopes most will be set in July 2011.

In Ottawa, the second competitive process is underway but there is no timeline for when it will be up and running.

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