Column: Austism centre opening

Did you know that B.C. is the only province in Canada that has a no waitlist policy for families to access autism funding?

Did you know that B.C. is the only province in Canada that has a no waitlist policy for families to access autism funding once their child or youth has received a confirmed diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

ASD occurs in one in every 68 births and is characterized by problems in communication, social interaction, and restrictive, repetitive patterns of behaviour. There is no cure for autism and its causes are not yet fully understood. Early intervention for young children with ASD is the key to treatment, because it may help them see dramatic improvements in language and communication, cognitive abilities and other skills — resulting in more meaningful involvement in their community and in communication with family and friends.

This is why I am so excited the Williams Lake Autism Centre of Excellence is all set for its grand opening on May 20. Thanks to a generous donation from the John Gordon Autism Foundation and the work of Thompson Rivers University residential construction program students, the Williams Lake Construction Association, School District 27,  and many others in our community — the Williams Lake Autism Centre of Excellence will truly be a remarkable and meaningful place for young children with ASD to develop communication and other skills. I would also like to congratulate the board and staff of the Child Development Centre who have made this centre possible.

Currently, the B.C. Government provides funding for 8,500 children and youth diagnosed with ASD and their families.

More than 1,250 parents, social workers and other service providers have received high-quality autism intervention training to better support their own children or the families they serve, since the launch of the outreach program in 2011.

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. I am also pleased with the creativity and collaboration of the Williams Lake Autism Centre of Excellence.

Together, we are making a difference.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.