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It’s not your problem… until it is!

Autism is rampant. It’s an epidemic. A few years ago the incidence spiked. No one knows why, but all of a sudden, a huge spate of cases deluged inadequate treatment resources.
Parenting a kid on the autism spectrum is very difficult coping, even crazy making. An autistic child is isolated inside: trapped in a closed world. Their interests dial into a very few: they obsess about them at close range. Otherwise, they are unmoved by normal stimuli. Some have the savant aspect, they become brilliant at one skill. Depends where on the spectrum they fall.
Though closed in, they have normal drives to communicate. But they can’t. Many remain inarticulate long into childhood [maybe forever], only building rudimentary bridges, sometimes just uttering noises.
And, being closed in, normal windows of development in early life start passing them by. With every passing year in the condition, more opportunities to join the normal stream slip by and the child slips further and further out of society.
Rage and or withdrawal build. Confined in an inarticulate prison, some lash out in frustration. Screaming sessions followed by sullen withdrawal beyond reaching. Tantrums in embarrassing situations. Destruction – not just of surroundings – but of the structures of normal family life.
The costs of care increase and spread as life goes on. Left untreated, the incapability becomes permanent. Families break down under the pressure of coping and fall into the social security “net”. The kids become permanent care cases.


Unless you catch them early. And give them Early Intervention treatment.
Early means starting between age 2 and 3.
Parents get a glimmer of problem as the kids pass 1. Something’s not right.   Trying to figure it out on one’s own is very tough. The urge to do something becomes frantic as time passes and behavior issues increase. No speech. Unresponsive. Can you imagine the panic that would slowly set in?
What parents meet in Alberta perhaps mirrors the reaction of the health care “system” elsewhere. Kids can’t be treated until they can be diagnosed. For that, G P’s have to refer to specialists. There are precious few. So, in our “treatment delayed is treatment denied” medical world, they meet a classic bottleneck. “Take a number. There’s only room for your kid in the [cost cut inefficient] diagnosis stream in 12 months!” By the time that happens, it will be too late.

For what?

I went on a tour of part of the Early Denver Treatment last week. Adrian Bohach, head of the Ability Society, showed me the intervention at work. And I met Clancy.
We entered the Experience room. A magical environment: low light, projected African animals on the wall, dark carpeted floors, soothing music, low swings, a bubbling tube of fish illuminated from below reaching to the ceiling.
Clancy and his parents were playing on the floor by the fish tank, talking in low voices.
“He’s 3. Four months ago, he was non-verbal. All the classic signs.”
We weren’t there to be formally introduced, but I did meet Allen, his relieved father.
“Clancy’s doing fine. In another 3 months, he will be clear.”
“What does that mean?”
“He’ll be fine, won’t need any more treatment.”
The Intervention consists, in part, of drawing the child out with consistent interaction in gently stimulating environments.

So in our resource starved system, we have an answer. It doesn’t work all the time, only in 75% of the cases!   But people can’t get to it, despite desperate requirement. Why?
– they don’t know about it
– diagnosis is so slow, the limited window for intervention closes before they can get through it
– the treatment is so severely underfunded, it can only be extended to 50 kids at a time in all of Calgary.

There are legions of autism cases in Calgary: children who need this approach.
All of these – untreated – will inflict huge residual costs on our society. Kids unable to participate in normal life. Angry, violent, antisocial. Families in disarray. Social services maintenance forever. In our era, when we take pride in doing the smart thing, sure looks dumb to me.

You can pay now, or pay later. How can we help the exasperated folks trying to deflect this crises – like Adrian – meet this yawning need?


Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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