Across Metro Vancouver, many families have access to specialized Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) services. For children under the age of six, the BC government allows families to access $22,000 a year, but as the kids get older, that funding decreases to $6,000 a year, and when they reach 19, the funding gets cut off completely.

Dr. David Worling, a Psychologist at Westcoast Child Development Group, believes that funding the BC government supplies is not enough.

“Bottom line is that for the group that has more cognitive challenges, the ASD funding is not enough. Treatments like Intensive Therapies, wrap-around services are super expensive,” Worling said.

So how are low-income families coping with the expensive bills? They are finding alternative methods.

Ekaterina Mogutnova, a Russian immigrant who has lived in Canada for ten years, is taking ASD treatment into her own hands. She has created a not for profit organization, Elijah Place, named after her son who has non-verbal autism, dedicated to help children and families affected by ASD.

Ekaterina’s son, Elijah, who was diagnosed with non-verbal autism, works on a drawing at one of Elijah’s Places events.

Through group sessions, specifically designed through art-based activities, she is hoping to bring together low-income families and create a community of self-help, as an alternative method to the traditional ASD treatment.

There are many benefits to art therapy, and for a child like Elijah, that could make a world of difference. It makes them capable of promoting self-expression, feelings, and emotions, promoting a sense of personal independence, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency. Developing these skills can be crucial for the children and set them up for success when they are forced to become independent.

The government is doing some to help people like Ekaterina, but for many, it is not enough, forcing them to find alternate ways to help themselves.