Indigenous Support For Autism

The Indigenous Community has some very high barriers to accessing services and support for children with Developmental Delays. These can include:

  • Remote living
  • Lack of access to specialized health care
  • Cultural barriers
  • Racism
  • Inter-generational trauma
  • Specialized services tend to be concentrated in urban areas

It has been rightly pointed out to me that my website is lacking in resources for the Indigenous Community. I will go through some options that Indigenous persons have with respect to obtaining funds and service for children with developmental delays, but what we really need are some real-world experiences. Please comment below this article with your thoughts.

The British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS) has more resources than I can mention in this article. I do understand the reluctance of some people to contact a government run or funded society. In this case, BCANDS is an Indigenous run and governed society. They offer assistance with PWD benefits, the Disability Tax Credit, and RDSP awareness.

Jordans Principle is not so much a program as it is a legal requirement to make services available to all other children also available to First Nations. The history behind Jordan’s Principle is complex but the basic principle is that First Nations children must have an equal chance to thrive as other children in Canada. This is examined by looking at Substantive Equality which means giving extra help when it is needed.

The First Nations people may understandably not trust the government to access services and funding. I recommend  The Assembly of First Nations – Guide to Jordan’s Principle. It will explain the process and has a list of the local community coordinators.

For children with autism or suspected autism, services can include Psycho-educational assessments, tutoring services, assistive technologies, and respite. Specialized ABA therapies may not exist in First Nations communities but with funding from Jordan’s Principle, services can be established. Behaviour Interventionists can receive initial training from AutismBC’s BI Online Workshops, ABA principles can be learned from The Autism Support Network – Video Series, and Behaviour Analyst services can be accessed via zoom. The tools exist for determined parents to access funding and set up an ABA program in a culturally appropriate setting.

Aboriginal Supported Child Care is a program which exists to enable children who require extra support to be included in childcare, preschool, and community care settings. This program ensures that culturally appropriate support is offered to First Nations families.

No doubt important services were overlooked in this post. Please let us know in the comments if you know of more resources that Indigenous, Metis and Inuit communities can use.

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