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NEWS RELEASE · 1st April 2010
Ministry of Children & Family
April is Autism Awareness Month in British Columbia, a time to recognize the children and families among us who live with a disability that may not be visible to most people.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) occurs in approximately one in every 110 births and has been found throughout the world in families of all ethnic and social backgrounds. ASD is a developmental condition that impacts normal brain development and affects social relationships, communication, interests and behaviour.

Although there is no cure for autism, there are highly effective research-based treatments and intervention methods that can help children and their families address the characteristics of this disorder, particularly in the early years.

To this end, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) has increased funding for children with autism under six beginning April 1 from $20,000 per year to $22,000. School aged children and their families continue to receive $6,000 per year for intervention services and school districts receive supplemental funding of $16,000 from the Ministry of Education for every student with ASD.

In September 2009, MCFD announced the development of a new outreach program, funded at $1 million annually, that will help to improve access to services in rural and remote communities.

The Province also supports ongoing research to help inform the development, availability and effectiveness of services for children and youth with ASD. This includes $1.275 million in funding to participate in a national study that includes the world's largest sample of children to be followed over time.

Four hundred Canadian children and their families are being tracked from diagnosis to age 11. Eighty of these participants are from B.C. The study is designed to show how children with ASD and their families grow and develop, and will begin to answer questions such as what types of children do best on what types of interventions.

Initial results have provided us with a better understanding of the core features of autism and the timing of diagnosis, and are helping researchers to better understand the relationships between specific child behaviours and other developmental skills, such as cognition and adaptive behaviour.

MCFD's budget for autism intervention and funding programs is more than 11 times the 2000-01 budget of $4.1 million, totalling more than $46 million in 2010-11.