Effective, scientifically backed treatment for autism exists (the
"Lovaas" Method - a form of Applied Behavior Analysis). Lovaas behavioural
treatment for autism is medically necessary and prescribed by physicians
because it is the only treatment available that significantly improves this
biological disorder. Lovaas behavioral treatment for autism is the most
thoroughly documented treatment of children with autism. Scientific studies
document a 47% recovery rate from autism and a near 100% improvement rate
for children who receive Lovaas early treatment.
The cost of Lovaas-style therapy for autism is not covered by the
B.C. Ministry of Health's provincial health care plan (British Columbia,
Canada). This is serious discrimination against the mentally disabled
because physical therapies are paid for by the government. Specifically,
according to the Premier of British Columbia, the services paid for by the
government include those of "physical therapists", "massage therapists",
"Chiropractors", "Naturopaths", and "Optometrists". None of these are
medical doctors but, rather, are categorized by the government as "allied
health professionals". "Lovaas-style" autism therapists are "allied health
professionals" and provide a crucial health service that is not paid for by
the Ministry of Health or the Medical Services Plan. The conclusion:
children with autism are currently excluded from a so-called universal
Canadian health care system, during the critical, early years of their life
when a real difference can be made towards recovery from autism.
Lovaas behavioural treatment of autism must be covered by the
government health insurance plan because it is medically necessary care (63
BC phychiatrists have endorsed the Lovaas autism treatment method as
medically necessary intervention that should be funded under medicare;
signatures are on file). The prognosis of untreated autistic children is
bleak. Autism has an organic biological base. Lovaas behavioural treatment
allows the child to overcome the dysfunction, similar to the treatment of
individuals who have suffered a brain injury or stroke. With these
individuals, the brain is capable of compensating for the injury with
appropriate therapy. Skills are learned or relearned in a slow and
methodical process. The Lovaas method of autism treatment is not unlike the
treatment for brain injuires and must be given appropriate status for
government medical insurance coverage in Canada.
B.C. parents who want the most effective autism treatment must
privately pay for their child's therapy and also import experts from the
U.S., at their own expense, to train a staff of therapists.
Catastrophic medical costs are devastating B.C. families who choose
to fight autism with the only scientifically proven treatment currently
available. Comprehensive, accessible Health Care is not available to young
children with autism despite a government run health plan that is supposedly
universal. In the U.S., private health insurance has deemed lovaas-style
autism treatment to be medically necessary and covers the cost of the
treatment. Canadians should expect and demand no less from their government
run health insurance system.
There is an effective treatment for children afflicted with autism.
Thirty years of research have documented the "Lovaas Method" of behavioural
treatment for Autistic children.
The method, pioneered by Dr. Ivar Lovaas (U.C.L.A.), is now widely
used throughout the world and is remarkably successful. In the words of
David Suzuki in an episode of "The Nature of Things" regarding this method
of autism treatment:
Once it seemed like a life sentence. Now we know that that sentence can
often be commuted, even lifted. Now we know there is hope. As long as
we intervene early enough, intensively enough, we can rescue many
children from the solitary confinement of autism... Where are other
parents to turn -- parents without the resources to hire trained
therapists. Somehow, we have to find the money to help children with
autism in those crucial preschool years. If we don't, the cost to all
of us of caring for an untreated adult will be far greater, reaching
into the millions. The cost in terms of human suffering is not to be
A Summary of the 2 ground breaking studies: Children who received early,
intensive autism treatment of the Lovaas-type (a form of Applied Behavioral
Analysis) significant improved. In the landmark study that was done at
U.C.L.A.,* 47% of those children achieved normal intellectual and
educational functioning, 40% were assigned to classes for the
language-delayed, and 10% were put in classrooms for the retarded. In
contrast, of the children who got the normally available services, only 2%
achieved normal educational and intellectual function, 45% were put in
language-delayed classes, and 53% were put in classrooms for the retarded.
At follow-up, when the Lovaas-treated children were 11-1/2 years old, 44%
were indistinguishable from average children on tests of intelligence and
adaptive behavior - they were categorized as "recovered" from autism.
*Lovaas, O.I. "Behavioral treatment and normal educational and intellectual
functioning in young autistic children", Journal of Clinical and Consulting
Psychology, 1987, 55, 3-9.
*McEachin, J.J., Smith, T. and Lovaas, O.I. "Long-term outcome for children
with autism who received early intensive behavioral treatment", American
Journal on Mental Retardation, 1993, 97, 359-372.
The Problem: The B.C. Ministry of Health does not cover the cost of this
intensive therapy program. Educational institutions in B.C. do not train
therapists in this treatment method. Parents must bring experts from the
U.S. to train their own private therapists at their own expense.
The Casualties: Families who are fighting hardest for their children's
recovery from Autism, must deplete their savings, then borrow from friends,
family and banks in order to pay for their child's Autism therapy. Although
medical catastrophe often wipes out families in the U.S., everyone likes to
believe it can't happen in Canada --- the reality is, it can...and it does.
There are British Columbians facing devastating medical costs to provide
treatment for their children. The stress and burden on families is immense!
When an effective Autism therapy exists, yet treatment is not funded by the
Government in a universal, accessible manner, young children become victims
of a serious crime of omission -- they are condemned to live a life
imprisoned by the condition of Autism.
A civilized society cannot allow this type of neglect of special needs
children, nor can it allow families who struggle against Autism to fight
alone, with devastating family and financial consequences.