Today I attended a special round table discussion with the Premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark, alongside 16 other B.C. moms about the challenges and concerns that parents in this province face so the government could see what they could do to make life easier and better for B.C. families.
Let me start off by saying that I am not a political person at all. I don’t usually follow the campaigns as I find it all very boring and full of broken promises and high expectations. No matter what the people say the government never listens and it’s all about who has the most money to spend on advertising and hiring really, really great PR. That being said, I do know that my vote counts, so I do vote regardless. So you can only imagine my initial reaction when I received the email from Pamela Martin, the Director of Outreach for the Premier, inviting me to be a part of this group. “Is this real? Did I accidently get CC’d? Will my opinion even matter?” After everything checked out, and it was really me being invited, I knew I had to go, for the sake of my family, for the sake of my son. It didn’t even matter if we just sat their for an hour and a half and nothing but broken promises came from it. I had to be heard. Besides, how often do you get to say you met your Premier, let alone sit down with them to discuss what your concerns were?
I was impressed to say the least!!
Premier Christy Clark may of sat at the head of the table, but it was everyone else sitting around her that had the floor. Each woman had an opportunity to tell the Premier a little about themselves, about the contents of their blog, what their personal concerns were, and even give some suggestions. Topics were about what anyone could of easily of expected from a group of moms: daycare expenses, housing, the cost of living, employment, and education.
My concerns were a tad less generalized and more specific to the autism community in British Columbia.
The government provides more than $165 million annually for programs and services that support approximately 7,500 children and youth with ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder] and their families – including assessments, funding for early intervention and education funding for students.
For children under age six, families receive access to funding of up to $22,000 per year to help with the cost of autism intervention services. For children and youth aged six to 18, families receive access to funding of up to $6,000 per year to help with the cost of out-of-school intervention services. This is in addition to the $18,300 in per-pupil funding for educational program and special education services provided through school boards.
Source: B.C. wraps up Autism Awareness Month, British Columbia’s Ministry of Children and Family Developments website
I brought up how British Columbia’s autism funding program amount drops significantly when the child enters the school system expecting the school district to take over where the consultants, therapists, and everything in-between left off. Let me just quickly add that the “$18,300 in per-pupil funding for educational program and special education services provided through school boards” doesn’t benefit my child solely. That funding is divided up within the multiple schools that have children with special needs that are under that particular school district. The money doesn’t directly benefit my son at all, and when my son only gets one 20 minute session a couple times a month from a school district provided Speech and Language Pathologist at his school, when he has a communication impacted disorder, well, that just doesn’t make any sense at all.
I also mentioned how ‘out of the norm’ therapy treatments like the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) that Bryce had, wasn’t covered in the approved expenses of using the autism funding and it was ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis) or nothing at all. The original reason we even created BubblesMakeHimSmile.com was to help raise funds for HBOT because our government wasn’t helping. It took us just over a year to raise the money ourselves. A year is a very, very long time.
I felt like Christy really listened. I don’t think it was a topic she really knew a lot about, or even how to answer, but she responded very honestly and made some valid points. It wasn’t even a typical scripted and political answer. It may of not been what I wanted to hear, or even make it any less upsetting that there will never be enough government provided funds to help make my son be as successful as he can possible be, but it was real. I was heard. That’s all I wanted.
To me, the whole event illustrated the difference one person can actually make. I was very honoured that I could be a part of such an incredibly inspirational event, and hopefully make a difference to the future of British Columbia families.
Thanks for reading,