Monday, March 17, 2008

Burnaby Now Newspaper Discusses March 2 Rally

Rallying cry: At a rally calling for medical coverage for children with autism, held at the Shadbolt Centre on Sunday, 10-year-old Ben Antifaev goes through a picture book with family friend Tricia Marzek while Ben's parents listened to the speakers.

Parents gather for coverage of autism treatment
Jennifer Moreau, Burnaby Now
Published: Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Parents are calling on the federal government to provide medicare coverage for an intensive form of treatment for children with autism.

The call came from Families for Early Autism Treatment of B.C., a parent advocacy group that kicked off its campaign at Burnaby's Shadbolt Centre for the Arts March 2.

Between 350 and 400 people attended the rally to listen to nine speakers calling for more treatment for autism.

"Effective autism treatment exists, and kids are being denied access to it because the government refuses to pay for it," said Jean Lewis, rally organizer and founding director of FEAT B.C. "Canadians expect that these kids' treatment is provided for."

Her organization and its supporters want applied behavioural analysis covered by medicare, Canada's national health insurance system.

Applied behavioral analysis is intensive, one-on-one treatment where a therapist breaks down learning goals into the smallest task possible and teaches the child through positive reinforcement and repetition.

Lewis said applied behavioral analysis is backed by 50 years of science showing it's the best form of treatment for kids with autism.

FEAT B.C. will target five federal ridings in B.C., offering support to federal candidates who promise to work towards increased medicare coverage for autism treatment.

"If you won't, we will work to defeat you," Lewis said.

When asked if Simon Fraser University's new autism research chair would help, Lewis said kids with autism still need treatment while research is ongoing.

"In the meantime, we don't deny people suffering ... from existing treatment, that's what's going on here," she said.

For more information on the campaign, visit

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