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Autism coalition concerned with end of Legacy program

By Randy Thoms Apr 5, 2023 | 2:10 PM

Some schools in northwestern Ontario are beginning to welcome new students.

They are children who were involved in the province’s so-called Legacy Autism program.

The NDP says the government has abruptly ended it, forcing about 4,000 children to attend school, many for the first time.

Kate Dudley-Logue, the vice president of Community Outreach with the Ontario Autism Coalition says the transition is happening without a plan.

“Zero transition plan has been made for these kids, and in fact, school boards have not even been informed that these kids are coming, nor have they been giving any additional funding to ensure that these children have adequate supports in place,” says Dudley-Logue.

Dudley-Logue worries that schools will not be able to handle the sudden influx of kids with high needs.

She says this will lead to further instances of exclusions and put further stress on our already stretched educators.

Previously, a program called Connections provided a six-month link between therapy teams and schools to ensure that kids with autism had a proper and gradual transition into the classroom that was safe for everybody.

Dudley-Logue says a government advisory panel recommended that program stay in place.

The change to the Legacy program comes as Premier Doug Ford named Michael Parsa as the new minister of children, community and social services, taking over from Merrilee Fullerton, who suddenly resigned two weeks ago.

Dudley-Logue says the coalition hasn’t had any formal meetings with the new minister but remains hopeful.

“We’re hopeful that this new minister will take things a little bit more serious. Certainly, he has opened some communication pathways so far in the few short weeks, so that looks hopeful, but it’s all about the action that happens.”



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