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Toddlers with special needs doubly disadvantaged by Quebec system: report

Children playing with animal toys. Photo by cottonbro studio/Pexels Children playing with animal toys. Photo by cottonbro studio/Pexels

L'Observatoire des tout-petits, supported by the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation, unveiled a new report on Tuesday which highlights the difficulty of obtaining specialized health and education services for children with special needs.

According to the document entitled "Tout-petits ayant besoin de soutien particulier: Comment favoriser leur plein potentiel?" (Toddlers in need of special support: How to promote their full potential?), many children find themselves hampered by both a lack of access to health resources and a lack of access to educational resources if they have not first received a medical diagnosis.

"In Quebec, not all children have access to the services and support they need at the right time, which deprives them of opportunities to develop their full potential," the first line of the report reads, which is signed by the director of the observatory, Fannie Dagenais.

She adds that this situation violates the rights of children with special needs since it is contrary to the principle of equal opportunities.

According to the observatory report, parents seeking specific services encounter a multitude of obstacles, such as excessive delays, difficulty obtaining financial assistance, or even difficulty obtaining specialized educational services.

However, this lack of access to professional resources can have significant consequences on the development of children since the period from 0 to 5 years old is crucial in their development.

Some may, therefore, suffer from not having obtained language, motor or cognitive support in a timely manner.

On this subject, the director of the observatory is calling for proactive action based first on the needs of children rather than waiting to obtain a diagnosis which often arrives too late or which may prove imprecise.

In addition, the observatory reports that the pressure experienced by parents can have harmful consequences on their mental health and financial situation. Some find themselves forced to give up their jobs or reduce their work duties in order to meet the special needs of their child. Others are forced to invest large sums of money in private health services in order to obtain a diagnosis and follow-up for their child.

The Canadian Press's health content receives funding through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 19, 2023. Top Stories

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