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Ontario family takes autism-support case to human rights tribunal

Ontario family takes autism-support case to human rights tribunal
From CTV - October 13, 2017

TORONTO -- An Ontario family has launched a human rights complaint against a school board in an effort to get a popular form of therapy for autistic children provided to their son in class.

Beth Skrt of Mississauga, Ont., alleges the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board has consistently refused to allow her five-year-old son Jack to receive Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) in class.

She says Jack has been receiving and benefiting from the therapy at an off-site facility he attends multiple days a week. Her son is also supported by education resource workers in class but she argues they are not equipped to provide the same level of therapy.

Skrt says her family offered to cover the cost of private ABA professionals to work with her son at school, but she says the board wo not allow it.

The family has brought the issue before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, seeking the right to provide ABA for Jack in his classroom.

The lawyer representing the board at the tribunal -- which began hearing the case this week -- did not indicate what arguments she planned to make, but says Dufferin-Peel supports providing appropriate educational services for all.

"We are confident that our evidence will demonstrate that we have fulfilled our commitment to students," Nadya Tymochenko said in a statement.

But Skrt, who works as an education resource worker for the board, said she believes the system is letting her son down.

She said her family initially balked at the prospect of a long and costly battle before the tribunal, but said the alternative was compromising Jack's future.

"There's so much potential there," Skrt said in an interview. "He is verbal. He is able to learn. He reads. he talks. He's friendly. He tries to play. It does not always work out, but he's just a really good kid. And I thought to myself, 'how do I live with myself? How can I just let him fall through the cracks of the system?"'

ABA is a type of treatment meant to teach autistic children to regulate behaviours that are believed to be socially significant.

In Jack's case, such behaviours currently include "finger-spelling in the air," as well as making clicking or humming sounds when he gets overwhelmed or anxious.

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