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The model of care in Nova Scotia proposed by Casey1 is spot on, but the scope of the project is faulty.
The unrelenting pressure for resources for autism services and research tends to bury at least two important facts. First, many children are challenged by complex neurodevelopmental disorders, and all would benefit from a properly coordinated and accessible system of intervention and support services. It would be unconscionable if discrepancies existed among children with different kinds of cancer — full support for those with bone cancer but meagre support for those with kidney cancer.
Second, it is true that autism and related disorders are diagnosed in more and more children, but the spectrum is broad. The needs of some children and families are complex, but others have fewer needs. Allocation of resources based on a medical diagnosis ignores this crucial fact.
Many professionals involved in the support of children with neurodevelopmental disorders are advocating for child and family support based on need rather than diagnosis. What we really need are regional total care centres for children with complex neurodevelopmental disorders — all those with complex learning and behavioural problems that elude a simple diagnosis.
For the full letter, go to: www.cmaj.ca/cgi/eletters/109-3274v1