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Support and Accessibility Options for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their Families in BC

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: November 20, 2020

Families who have children with autism face challenges figuring out how to best stretch the money they receive to promote their child’s development. Parents may be unaware of the many accessibility and funding options available to them that goes beyond the government and school funding that is available.

Autism BC is supported by the province of British Columbia and is of great help to parents in learning and understanding the process from assessment to funding. They have many workshops for parents such as the Waiting for Assessment workshop. It is highly recommended that parents start there.

The Province of British Columbia has also established a tool to help families manage their funds and service providers better, called My Family Services. Not only does this tool help families manage and make payments, but it also helps with budgeting and preparing for the expenditures of the coming year.

Inclusion Accessibility Assistance

There are many programs and organizations which offer substantial savings to families and allows them to be part of the community in which they live. These are listed below and are of great benefit.

Healthy Kids BC – “The Healthy Kids Program provides coverage for basic dental treatment, optical care, and hearing assistance to children in low-income families that are not receiving income, disability, or hardship assistance.” (Government of BC, 2020)

PharmaCare – “PharmaCare covers eligible prescription drugs and medical supplies through several drug plans. The largest is the Fair PharmaCare plan, which is based on income: the lower your income, the more help you get.” (Government of BC, 2020)

Travel Assistance Program (TAP) – “The Travel Assistance Program (TAP) helps alleviate some of the transportation costs for eligible B.C. residents who must travel within the province for non-emergency medical specialist services not available in their own community.” (Government of BC, 2020)

BC Family Residence Program – “The BC Family Residence Program provides accommodation assistance to enable families to stay together when their child requires medical care at BC Children’s Hospital or Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children.” (Government of BC, 2020)

First Nations Health Authority Benefits – “First Nations Health Benefits covers specific health-related items and services to meet medical or dental needs that are not covered by third-party health insurance or the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP).” (First Nations Health Authority, 2020)

Jordan’s Principle – “Jordan’s Principle responds to the unmet needs of First Nations children no matter where they live in Canada.” (Government of Canada, n.d.)

My Community BC Map “My Community BC is an online resource to discover the inclusive and welcoming places in your community and around BC. This is an online map built by citizens like you working together to strengthen opportunities for inclusion and connection in their communities.” (Family Support Institute of BC, 2020)

Access2Card – “Easter Seals Canada offers the Access 2 Card program to help ensure that entertainment, cultural, and recreational opportunities are more available and accessible to everyone.” (Easter Seals Canada, 2020)

BC Bus Pass Program – “Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) have access to the BC Bus Pass Program. The pass is valid in communities served by BC Transit or Translink.” (Government of BC, 2020)

BC Ferries – “BC Ferries provides a variety of services for persons with disabilities to ensure a safe and comfortable journey by offering a Disabled Status Identification (DSI) Card.” (British Columbia Ferry Services Inc., 2020)

Sparc BC – “SPARC BC has been advocating for the rights of people with disabilities since 1984. They offer the Parking Permit Program.” (SPARC BC, 2017-2020)

Telus Internet for Good“Telus offers low-cost Internet ($9.95/month {plus applicable taxes}), computers & training to those eligible for PWD benefits, through their Internet For Good program. The low-cost Internet is also offered to low-income families who are currently receiving the maximum Canada Child Benefit.” (TELUS, 2020)

VIA Rail Canada – “Passengers who cannot travel alone may travel with a companion capable of providing the required assistance. The support person may travel free of charge in the same class of service. A Medical Certificate must be completed by your physician.” (VIA Rail Canada Inc., 2020)

Summary

Parents need to feel empowered, supported and connected to the autism community. Their needs and wants for their child and for their family are many. Autism BC and the Government of BC supports inclusion so that all children will have a strong quality of life. To say connect and informed about the latest news and professional guidance for families, you can also check out Autism Parenting Magazine.

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