'The system forgets about them': Sask. family pushes for more autism services
SASKATOON -- A Martensville family is pushing for more autism services in Saskatchewan.
Ethan Greack, 10, is non-verbal and lives with autism. While he communicates through gestures, such as bouncing or clapping when he's excited, his mother says his potential could have been so much greater.
"I feel like if he got the proper therapy, he might be able to speak," Nicole Greack said.
When Ethan was younger he received speech and occupational therapy at the Kinsmen Children's Centre in Saskatoon, but once he turned six his mother said was aged out of the program.
"I kind of feel like the system forgets about them," she said.
"I mean Ethan is just one of thousands of kids in this province that once you hit six-years-old and are going to school, you're basically thrown out into the sea without a raft."
Ethan received one hour of therapy a week at KCC, according to his family.
Behaviour analyst Shannon Hill said kids his age should have been receiving at least 20 to 40 hours of therapy a week.
"You have to do those programs dozens and dozens and dozens of times per day if you want a child to speak or if you want your child to use a communication device," she said.
"One hour a week is literally a complete waste of money. One hour a month, forget about it. It's absurd really."
Hill quit her day job at Kellogg's years ago and took it upon herself to go back to school to become a behaviour analyst to support her 18-year-old son Colby and others through their struggles with autism.
Her education led her to open up her own private clinic.
"I see kids in my own practice that I know could do well if they had the proper course of treatment," she said.
In a statement to CTV News provided by spokesperson Paula Steckler, the Government of Saskatchewan said it will "continue to work on its commitment to provide increased funding for children under six and to expand this model to school aged children under 18 to help children and families get the autism supports."
Once a child reaches school age they can access services and therapies through the Ministry of Education and the Saskatchewan Health Authority, the province said.
"Our government understands that the needs within our classrooms are evolving, and we are committed to ensuring that the future generations of this province are prepared for their futures beyond the classroom."
The province said it will look to the provincial committee on class size to construct a new provincial education plan for 2020.
For the Greacks, the fight isn't over.
"I would like to see (Ethan) get the best life he can and if I fight tooth and nail on everything to get him what needs, I'll do it," Greack said.