Monthly Archives: November 2020

BCEdAccess Exclusion Tracker Oct/Nov 2020 Update

BCEdAccess has new statistics about how many parents/guardians are paying for additional supports outside of school, based on information from their Exclusion Tracker.

View the results here.

Some highlights:

We asked if parents/guardians are paying for additional supports outside of school. The answer was a resounding yes. Within the last year, BC parents paid for many services not provided in school or by Health or MCFD, including tutoring, occupational therapy, psychoeducational assessments, and more.:

Specialist Sessions

  • 28.1% – in home sessions (eg. Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), interventionists
  • 21.9% – Speech Language Pathology (SLP) sessions
  • 17.2% – Occupational Therapy (OT) sessions
  • 4.7% – Physical Therapy (PT) sessions


  • 14% – private diagnosis
  • 12.5% – Psychoeducational assessment
  • 14% – SLP assessment
  • 12.5% – OT assessment
  • 4.7% – PT assessment


  • 32.8% – counseling
  • 28.1% – tutoring

The Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health, Quality of Life, and Service and Support Needs in Families of Children with ASD

Last Spring, as the situation for families with autistic children deteriorated, ACT collaborated with researchers at Simon Fraser University to survey the impact of COVID-19 on families in BC. The results of the survey are shocking. They show that the majority of families are extremely distressed. Nearly 40% of the 238 families who responded are concerned about the safety of other family members, largely because of the level of anxiety triggering aggression in their child with autism. Over 60% of families found MCFD supports unhelpful. Families were even more critical of Ministry of Education efforts. The situation has been so difficult, that nearly 10% of those surveyed have considered putting their children in care.

Psychology researcher Grace Iarocci, Director of SFU’s Autism and Development Disorders Lab, is urging the provincial government to better support the needs of children with special needs or risk devastating consequences.

“We knew that families of children with ASD were under tremendous stress, but as researchers we are shocked by the severity of the pressures they were experiencing even before the pandemic and how much worse it has become,” says Iarocci. “Our hope is that the provincial government will pay attention to this data and listen to families and act to provide the support families need.”

Vanessa Fong, the SFU researcher on the project presented her preliminary research results in a poster presentation. Download the poster here (pdf).

The findings of the study – funded by Mitacs, Kids Brain Health Network and ACT – were presented November 12, 2020 at a Kids Brain Health Network conference.

Read the SFU press release: “SFU researchers urge more support for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder during pandemic”



ASD and Mask Challenges

blankEarlier this week, ACT received an email from a BC mother of a six-year-old with autism who had been turned away from a grocery store. She explained:

“Long story short, we were not permitted to enter a TNT store because my son could not wear a mask or a shield. I did wear a mask and told them about our “mask challenge” and the diagnosis, but they said they didn’t know what autism is and didn’t care to know.

In our everyday life we all meet the problem of autistic awareness (or better said unawareness), but this one was so brutal. I feel so isolated, it feels like there is no place for my son in this world, and I am scared for his future. I think that for adult autistics life is even harder, I feel I need to do something to change the situation.”

ACT’s Response

I am very sorry to hear about your experience, I know how painful this type of rejection of our children is from my own experiences during my son’s childhood. You are absolutely right to try to find a way of dealing with this to benefit all children with invisible disabilities. One way to handle this would be to get a letter from your family doctor explaining that your son has autism and that he cannot wear a mask. This can be a generic letter that you can use in any situation. Then send the doctor’s letter to TNT’s head office with a letter from you, explaining what happened and request that they inform the store in question that Dr. Bonnie Henry allows exceptions to be made for medical reasons. You could even copy the letter to Dr. Henry! Keep it calm and factual.

Ask the management of TNT to please inform you when you can return to the store and who to speak to when you go to ensure that you and your child are treated respectfully.

Also, here is the link to ACT’s ‘This Person Has ASD’ card. Print some out and have them ready if anyone challenges you. Ask them to contact ACT and we will explain.

I hope that these suggestions are helpful. I would like to hear what happens.  

Warmest regards to you and your family.

Deborah Pugh
Executive Director
ACT – Autism Community Training