Applications opened on Tuesday for families to obtain individualized funding for young children who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

$2.8 million has been allocated to provide $4,000 per child with ASD under the age of six. The program will help families customize their child’s therapies and support services.

“With the funding getting announced, that is something that not only our family, but other families, and groups right across the province had been promoting and also pushing for, that funding, to be able to get kids and families some help, and really shine a light on autism,” said autism advocate and Midale resident, Katie Emde.

Emde is a mother of three, who has one son already diagnosed with autism, and another son in the process of being diagnosed. She says the funding announcement is just a start.

“There is still so much work that needs to be done regarding the topic of autism and getting some families help, it’s a wonderful start, and it really opens up some good dialogue,” she said.

“Where do we go from here?” she posed, noting that each of the 700 children eligible for the funding have families who will need to go through the application process.

“Applying for funding, receiving that funding, how they’re going to use that funding, where we need to fill in the gaps from there, because, realistically, autism does not stop just at the age of six,” she noted.

“It continues on, and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done right in, not only the health care system but also the education system, and that funding and that help and support that families need to be continuing on past the age of six.”

She noted that this has been a passionate issue for her family, who have been champions of autism awareness and policy change. They have a page on Facebook called A Journey for Avery.

“We were lucky enough to be invited into the House numerous times, and invited into Legislature and have that open dialogue with the NDP, and also the Sask Party,” she said. “We got some good conversation on what these families are looking for, what they’re expecting, what kind of help they want and need.”

“It’s been a really good year, a really busy year, and I’m really glad to see that this funding is something that families with children under the age of six can look forward to, and it will help them financially,” she expressed.

“Having a child that is affected by autism is no easy thing. All of these kids are different and all of these families live in different places right across the province. So this is a starting point,” said Emde.

While the program is being run through the Ministry of Social Services, the ASD individualized funding is a joint Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Services program.

Families who have applied and meet the program criteria will begin receiving funding in August 2018.

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