Push for autism services a personal battle for this Liberal MNA
A Liberal MNA is pushing for candidates in the federal election to come up with a national strategy to help families dealing with autism.
It’s a personal issue for Jennifer Maccarone, who serves as MNA for the Westmount-St-Louis district as well as the Quebec Liberal Party’s Families Critic. Maccarone has two young adult children with autism. She said her job presents challenges given the situation, especially since she’s in Quebec City three days a week.
“It’s tough being away from my family but I think my kids are real troopers and they know they’re sharing me for the greater good,” she said. “I hope the next three years are going to be successful ones.”
Maccarone’s son Sam recently turned 18, which means he’s aged out of many services available to youth on the autism spectrum. Maccarone said he’s lost his pediatrician and navigating school support has been difficult.
“I’m going from high school to CEGEP, it’s been a big change,” said Sam. “I’m more free but the thing is I seem to be having a lot of bad thinking. It’s causing me to be anxious.”
On Friday, autism advocates urged the federal leadership candidates to support a national autism strategy including tax credits, housing, employment programs and research. Maccarone said for the sake of all families with children aging out of the system she hopes the plan will be adopted. She has put forth a mandate to study autistic youth transitioning to adulthood which she said she hopes will be accepted in the National Assembly.
“They’re my heroes,” she said of her kids. “(I think of them) for every little change, every time I stand up and speak for people that have needs. I speak a lot about people who are severely handicapped, whether they’re children or adults.”