Petition urges government to do more to help kids with special needs

Three women who have founded an advocacy group for kids with special needs are asking the public to sign a petition to help kids get more health services

A new advocacy group for parents of children with disabilities is petitioning the provincial government to expand RAMQ coverage to cover treatments and services for children with learning difficulties and special needs.

The petition was launched last July by two N.D.G. moms, Jennifer Kaminski and Zainab Alsmadi, along with teacher’s aide Brianna McGirr. The trio also co-founded the Children with Disabilities Advocacy Project, an advocacy group providing advice for parents of children who need additional support to succeed in school.

The women would like to see public funding for diagnostic testing, early intervention programs, physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA therapy, and psychological counselling for all children under the age of 18 who have been deemed in need of these services by a medical professional.

“This isn’t just about autism. It’s about all kids having equal opportunity. If they need help they should be able to get it. It should be available to them,” Kaminski said.

While there are some publicly funded programs, Kaminski said waiting lists are long. Because early intervention is so critical for children’s success in school, most parents who can afford to take their children to private therapists do so.

“Financially it’s a huge, huge burden. You could be paying thousands of dollars for therapies that are required. They are essential,” Kaminski said.

In other cases, parents are simply unable to afford to pay for the interventions their children need, putting their children at a disadvantage. Universal coverage for diagnosis and treatment of special needs would level the playing field, Kaminski argues — and would ultimately save taxpayer money in the long run, by helping more of these children develop the skills they need to stay in school and find work they can do so they can give back to society.

According to the petition, an estimated 36,000 children in Quebec live with a disability or have special needs due to Autism, ADD, ADHD, down syndrome or other conditions.

The deadline to sign the petition is March 10, 2020. You can view it or sign online by clicking here.

The women have also launched a Facebook page to rally support at facebook.com/TheCDAProject.