Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
PORT AUX BASQUES – Exacerbating an already strained healthcare system is the difficulty of residents in small towns and remote areas accessing the same services as in big city centres.
A few weeks ago in December 2022, an Australian individual posted on social media expressing interest in moving to town with his family. An Australian post shared having a child on the autism spectrum and many of the comments praised their interest and expressed their genuine love for Port-au-Basque and the services available, but some questioned the decision and raised concerns that it could be difficult for families to face if they actually take action.
Ashley White, a parent of a child with autism, was among those who expressed her concerns.
“I know COVID has affected us a lot, but when I didn’t know my child had autism, I didn’t get any answers. You are a mother, you are a teacher, you are a friend, you are a mother, you are a cook. I never dreamed my kitchen could be turned into a classroom to give her a little bit of where she is.”
White said he did not expect the level of backlash he received when he commented on the Facebook post.
“The backlash I got wasn’t because I was negative, it was because I was being honest,” White explained. “If no one speaks up, how are we going to solve this?”
White said she loves her town and understands that much of what she’s been through may be a result of COVID, but wants to share her own struggles openly and honestly. I was.
“There are kind and caring people in Porto aux Basques,” said White. “I think the smaller the town, the more compassion there is. Joan (Chaisson, co-founder of Autism Involves Me) lends out resources. There are people donating money and things. Yes, you can’t take it from Porto aux Basques, you can’t take it from João, I never said anything bad about it, God bless it. When I say something like that, it’s about the government, and I want people to understand that.”
White said the severe impact of the pandemic on communities, not to mention severe housing shortages that escalated after Hurricane Fiona in September, has made it difficult to access needed services and supplies.
“When it first started, we had to hire a behavioral expert. They were in Deer Lake, so it had to be a Zoom meeting. didn’t have one because she was on maternity leave and there was no one to fill her place. , which could take days, weeks, or months,” said White. “I now have a behavioral specialist in town, but I haven’t seen one since September. but didn’t get any answer on that because you can’t rely on one person for any job. We are very fortunate to have a behavioral expert, as I doubt there are people in the field.”
White says none of her concerns are a reflection of the work professionals are doing in the region, saying they are great but need to help more people, especially in the face of the “new normal.” I explained that there is
“There is also a speech therapist. Speech once a week, action once a week, some families once every two weeks Do I agree?No, it’s not their responsibility, but my boss It shows that you don’t care about robbing us.”
Port aux Basques cannot make appointments for some specialists, so White has to make regular trips to Corner Brook to access these services.
“The developmental psychologist is in Corner Brook. I didn’t bend over and it was hard to drive two and a half hours to get to an hour-long appointment,” White said. “I’ve stayed overnight, I’ve stayed in hotels, I’ve gone to see all the doctors, but it’s been hard on her. I was patient, but I saw a lot of aggressive behavior from her because she was overstimulated and not at home.”
Ms. White said she would be lost without a local volunteer group.
“In terms of resources, they have a local AIM group that helps a lot. I borrowed a sensory chair from them. rice field. “We’re short on experts, but we have those items in the resource room and they’re helpful. They have a weighted vest that you can try and return if it doesn’t work. Me had a weighted blanket loaned to them, which worked well, so I went out and got my own so they could take it back for another child to try. Joan’s resources are excellent, plus 100%, especially since we’re short of the specialists we need.”
In response to email inquiries, Western Health has released the following statement outlining available resources, although there may be a waiting period to access them, depending on what an individual needs. I acknowledged that there is
“Western Health provides a variety of services through a variety of programs to children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Services include the Janeway Outreach Program, Newfoundland and Labrador English Education It is also provided by the school district, Newfoundland and Labrador Autism Association.
“Through developmental health, Western health programs and services for children diagnosed with ASD include audiology, speech pathology, direct home service programs, developmental psychology, and autism assessment teams. If your child has been seen for evaluation and a diagnosis has been made, certain interventions related to Autism Spectrum Disorder may be recommended. / There are also readily available services for the needs of young people.
“Through Western Health’s Community Support Program, a state program, Children’s Support Services, is provided to provide support at home to children and families. home support, medical travel, equipment, or treatment may be available Community Support Social workers and behavior management specialists support this program There is no waiting list for the Community Support Program.
“Through mental health and addiction, clients diagnosed with ASD and their families access counseling services that may require therapeutic interventions regarding emotional management, anxiety, social skills, and behavioral concerns. Yes. Services can be delivered in individual or group settings and in the format chosen by the client/family (in-person, telemedicine, or virtual).”
The state continues to expand services, but whether it will help families in more remote communities get quicker access to services, or at least remove the need for regular travel, remains to be seen. I do not know.
“As part of the implementation of the state’s 2020 Autism Action Plan, autism services have expanded and continue to expand over the past few years. Diagnostic clinics are growing as well as intervention services.
“Individuals looking for information about autism services at Western Health can find more information at https://www.westernhealth.nl.ca/autism-assessment-team/.”
Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wreckhouse Weekly News