Reported comments draw fire

Sorbara under fire for reportedly telling parents of autistic teen to consider criminal charges to access services

Advocates for autism support are up in arms over comments Greg Sorbara, former finance minister in the McGuinty government and MPP for Vaughan-King-Aurora, reportedly told the parents of a teen with autism.
In a report distributed by the CNW Group, which distributes news and press releases, Sorbara reportedly told Susan Fentie-Pearce and her husband Ken that they should consider criminal charges against the teen, who is demonstrating aggressive behaviour, as a way to access better services for her son.
The MPP reportedly made the comments at his constituency office on Friday, Aug. 27. The mother, the CNW report says, contacted Sorbara is a desperate attempt to get assistance for her son, who has, reportedly, attacked her on numerous occasions.
Aggressive behaviour is not uncommon among those dealing with autism. In many situations it can be moderated through therapy and medication.
Laura Kirby-McIntosh, who co-founded the Ontario Autism Coalition along with Ms. Fentie-Pearce and others in 2005, also attended the meeting, according to the CNW release.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” she said. “I was deeply offended, not to mention shocked. This man is a former minister of finance. He has the ear of the premier. Are we to believe that in 2010, in Dalton McGuinty’s Ontario, that this is really the best we can do?”
The Ontario Autism Coalition has been advocating on behalf of families since 2005 and in June of this year submitted a lengthy list of recommendations to the government on how to better serve those living with autism in the province. The government has yet to respond to the report.
Despite a greater awareness of autism and its societal impact, families still face long waitlists for treatment; advocates complain of unfair cutoffs, inadequate services in schools, and a lack of crisis services, advocates maintain. Sorbara’s comments are being received poorly in the autism community, and a Facebook group has been started.

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