Fourteen days. A Mississauga family believes if their son was born just two weeks earlier, he would be getting treatment for autism. Instead he’s receiving nothing.
Arman Baig turned five on April 28. Exactly two weeks later — after having to wait six months before he could see a specialist — he was diagnosed.
The timing is critical; if Arman was diagnosed before his birthday, he could have been put on a waiting list for Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI). Instead, he was put on a list for Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), a less intensive therapy.
“We were left with no choice. So, he was put on the ABA list,” said his father, Sajjad Baig. “The wait time for that is at least two to three years. Now, there is no therapy for him.”
Arman’s parents can’t afford to pay for ABA on their own. His mother Snovia Jamil said there is no way the family can cover the cost which is about $3,000 a month.
“Are you kidding me? I cannot do a job, see? Can you imagine my life?” she said, wiping away tears as she struggled to control her son during an outburst.
Last June, the provincial government faced a massive backlash from parents as it tried to reform autism services. It initially announced it would stop funding IBI for children over four and instead give their parents $8,000 for therapy, a fraction of what it actually costs.
The Liberals weren’t counting on families fighting back. They mobilized with a campaign called “Autism Doesn’t End at 5.”
After intense media coverage, the Wynne government reversed its stance and promised to continue funding for every child who was on the IBI waiting list.
Arman just missed being on that list. Because of his birthday, he was placed on the ABA list, and according to the government chart below, will receive services “when a space becomes available.”
In the spring, the government will unveil its new program, which it says will to shorten waiting lists for therapy. Arman’s exhausted mother can’t bear the thought of waiting any longer.
“You can’t imagine. I’m so helpless,” Jamil said. “I can’t go anywhere. I can’t go for a job.”
Since Tuesday, CityNews has made repeated requests for comment from the Minister of Children and Youth Services and has yet to receive a response.