Regina - November 7, 2001 - Autism Society President Lisa Simmermon
  Editor's Note: Ms. Simmermon provides us with some insight into the serious nature of this growing developmental condition as its long term impact on society with growing numbers of those affected needs to be seriously considered.


This week of Dr. Janet Butz, autism specialist, to work with Saskatchewan families and schools in Nipawin, Tisdale and Swift Current.  Dr. Butz has been getting inquiries from families in other towns and cities in the province, and will be returning in December to work with them as well on the development of effective treatment programming for their children in their communities. 



1 in 385

The issue of lack of universal effective treatment provision to people with autism conditions based on best practices is growing in importance as the number of reported cases of autism conditions in Saskatchewan rises at a startling rate (about 80% in two years).  With prevalence in our province of 1 in 385, every community and almost every school in Saskatchewan is now dealing with autism issues.  When you consider that prevalence was about 1 in 10,000 two decades ago, this increase is frightening. 




Saskatchewan Society for the Autistic (SSFTA) is encouraging all families with a member with an autism condition to contact us so that we can add the names to a provincial database, and ensure that advocacy efforts accurately represent the issues faced by these people across Saskatchewan.  We also have developed an e-mail list of member families, autism service providers and autism-related researchers to whom we forward autism related research, news and resource information. 




Through the national parent organization, Autism Society Canada (ASC), SSFTA is very actively advocating at the federal level for the development and application of best practices-based autism national standards through the creation of an Autism Secretariat within Health Canada.  As well, we are encouraging families to file letters of complaint with their regional UNICEF office and Provincial Children’s Advocate regarding the lack of universal effective autism treatment provision.  Families in other provinces are being encouraged to make similar complaints, with the hope that the United Nations will pressure Canada to meet its commitment to the U.N.’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.  

Last month (October) was Autism Awareness Month in Canada.  What we became aware of was the ongoing struggle of families as Canada saw

  • This country’s third murder of a child with an autism condition by his mother (in the past five years in Canada, murders of children with autism conditions account for 50% of murders of children with disabilities by a parent)

  • Another Canadian class action lawsuit by 99 families in Quebec against their provincial government for not providing universally available effective autism treatment in the form of intensive behavioral intervention. (only four provinces, including Saskatchewan, have not yet initiated or organized autism treatment litigation action against their provincial governments)