FREDERICTON (GNB) – The legislature will be lit up in blue on Sunday night to mark World Autism Awareness Day, held annually on April 2.

“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is recognized as one of the most common developmental disorders affecting children in Canada and around the world,” said Speaker of the legislative assembly Chris Collins. “World Autism Awareness Day provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about ASD and to promote early diagnosis and intervention.”

In December, the government introduced an enhanced model for the New Brunswick Preschool Autism Intervention Program that increased per-child funding from $27,500 to almost $33,000, standardized services across the province, and incorporated new evidence-based practices. To support those enhancements, the government is increasing the program’s funding by $2.7 million as part of the 2017-18 budget. The program’s total budget for 2017-18 is $19.9 million.

The government also developed preschool autism online training, which is available to personnel working with children with autism. This aligns with the online training for school professionals and is available across the Atlantic provinces. It is provided through an interprovincial partnership as part of the Council of Atlantic Ministers of Education and Training, and can contribute to children’s positive transition to school.

“The Preschool Autism Intervention Program provides quality services and makes a difference in the lives of children with ASD,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Brian Kenny. “Your government is pleased to provide additional support to this program so it can deliver the enhanced model for services we introduced in December.”

The New Brunswick Preschool Autism Program provides 20 hours of intensive behaviour intervention to children diagnosed with autism. It served 816 children in 2015-16. The goal is to provide early intervention that reduces the features of autism.

More information about autism services is available online.