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Failing Families: The Case for Increasing Supports for Families Impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder

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The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is rising, and supporting individuals with ASD and their families is of increasing importance. Caregiving responsibilities associated with ASD are known to negatively affect employment and income. Yet in BC, government funding only partially covers the costs of autism treatments, leaving parents with significant out-of-pocket costs. An online survey of parents of children with ASD was used to gauge the actual impact of caring for a child with ASD on parental employment and income, and to identify policies that would better support their families. The results demonstrate that households impacted by ASD face high levels of financial stress, experience significant negative effects on parental employment, and need a range of more supportive government programs. Along with the status quo, this project assesses four policy options - increasing funding under the existing Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) program, adding coverage for autism treatment within the healthcare system, integrating ABA into the public school system, and offering leave for parents to care for their child. The report recommends increasing funding under the MCFD model, along with other supportive policies.
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