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The cost of raising a special needs child

Compare that to the situation in Ontario, where only one type of treatment—called Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention—is funded (typically 20 to 25 hours per week) and its waiting lists for funded treatment can stretch for two to four years, depending on the region. Since the earlier treatment starts, the more likely it is to be successful, some families will start something privately if they can, says Natalie Elms, a behaviour therapist and director of community relations at Morneau Shepell’s Children’s Support Solutions in Toronto. She adds that the estimated $60,000 a year price tag for a private program puts that option out of reach for most. Funding doesn’t typically cover everything, though—Elms says families with coverage still typically pay an average of $100 per week out of pocket with her agency. While funding makes therapy significantly cheaper, it’s still not accessible to all families, she says. Quebec offers publicly funded therapy delivered through health and social service centres, but again, waiting lists stretch one to two years long. And after a child turns five years of age, his case is no longer considered urgent, so you’re dropped off the list and have to go the private route, explains Marilyne Lemay, operations manager of Parcours d’enfant (Children’s Support Solutions) in Quebec City.

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