World Autism Awareness Day – MLA Michelle Stilwell’s statement in Legislature

April 2, 2014 is World Autism Awareness Day.

BC MLA Michelle Stilwell (Parksville-Qualicum) delivered an emotional statement in the provincial legislature on the challenges and successes of people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Text of her statement follows below:

“Thank you Madame Speaker. Today is World Autism Awareness Day, an opportunity to reflect on the struggles and celebrate the successes of people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“There is no cure for autism and its causes are not yet fully understood.

“Successful treatment of ASD often hinges on early diagnosis and intervention, and I am proud that B.C. is considered a leader in providing autism services.

“Ours is the only province in Canada that has a ‘no waitlist’ policy for families to access autism funding after a confirmed diagnosis.

“Among the many supports offered by our government, the Ministry of Children and Families provides funding to more than 8,500 children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

“Of course government doesn’t work alone. Strong community partnerships with organizations such as the Autism Society of British Columbia and Autism Community Training provide exceptional support and advocacy.

“Their services are in greater demand than ever.

“Autism now affects one in 68 children. That’s a 30 per cent increase in diagnoses in just six years

“That number is startling, even scary, but it’s just a number. It tells us how many people live with ASD, but not who they are.

“It’s likely that everyone in this Chamber today knows someone with ASD. If you’re lucky, it could be my son Kai.

“I say you would be lucky to know a child like my son because you would know that while autism is a challenging and sometimes heart-breaking disorder, it is not who he is; it’s simply a challenge he faces.

“We continue to learn more every day about the best ways to support people living with ASD. Together we are making a difference.

“It is my hope and belief that we will continue to raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder, and continue to build an inclusive society that allows people with ASD to thrive.

“Would you please join me in celebrating World Autism Awareness Day.”

Video Source: Hansard