"Autism & Memoirs of an Old Maid"…C'hele's Story

August 22, 2013

Autism: Person With Disability Benefits or PWD

For six months, I have been busy arranging for my daughters PWD application benefits. PWD means Person with Disability. This is government assistance for persons with a designated intellectual or physical disability.  The application form is approximately twenty-one pages long and is in divided into three sections.  WHAT a bitch this application is!  The government here in B.C., has changed the application process making it easier requiring parents and the applicant to only have to hand in a Psycho-Educational Report from any Psychologist.

This change occurred just as we were completing the application.  I had my doctor fill out the first half (we did it together because wording on the application is EVERYTHING and I had to make sure my doctor remembered details). The second half of the application my daughter and I completed. We never did fill out the last portion.  The third section of the application is for a second professional to fill out. We never filled it out because the application requirements suddenly changed.  Michaela and I went to our Ministry appointment to hand in the application along with a half-inch worth of supporting documents of Michaela’s disabilities. We were determined to cover all our bases because Michaela falls into a very dangerous grey area.  Michaela, myself and her doctor know, she would NEVER be able to hold full-time employment due to her very high anxiety and social-communication-sensory challenges.  

The Ministry ended up calling me, claiming they would be sending me back the application form to be completed.  Upon speaking with the facilitator there, I told her that due to the new application changes I didn’t have to?  Technically all I needed to hand in, was the Psycho-Educational Report.  She tried to argued with me. So I asked her to seek out the photocopy of an email I received from CLBC that I included in the PWD package. CLBC or Community Living British Columbia, is an organization that supports special needs adults and they’re families and it was them, that informed me of the PWD changes. 
Guess what?  She didn’t have a freaking clue about the changes. In fact, she had NO clue as to what I included in the PWD application package.  Why would you call someone without checking out the WHOLE application package? Feeling very frustrated, she found the photocopy and told me that she would check into it with her boss and then call me back. She was very upset that she was not told this information.  She called me back and I was not required to fill out the third portion.  There has been a lot of challenges with this though.  The Ministry called me again and asked that I come by to fill out a one page form.  Upon seeing the form, and making a long story short, it asked that I/we “tick” off whether Michaela was deemed Mentally Retarded or not.  What the heck?

They obviously still did not read all the information I sent them along with the application. It states very clearly what Michaela’s disabilities are. *SIGH*.  SO.  Backing up a bit, I was told to try and apply my daughter for CLBC services.  I did, and we were denied as Michaela’s school psychologist did not deem my daughter “mentally retarded” and this was a requirement to be able to receive CLBC services.  No problem, we were totally o.k. with this.  But now, I’m thinking: “If Michaela was denied CLBC services because she is not mentally retarded, will the government deny Michaela PWD benefits due to the same reason?”

I suddenly felt sick to my stomach with sudden fears about Michaela’s future.  OMG, how is she going fare?  So. I don’t give up and I immediately call CLBC and talk to a facilitator there.  SHE WAS WONDERFUL.  She informed me that CLBC requirements for “a mental retardation label” will not apply to the PWD application.  However, upon talking, she agreed with me that the one form the ministry wanted me to fill out, did not apply to Michaela whatsoever.  She herself, questioned why would they ask me to sign it?  So she calls the ministry in Victoria.  The facilitator there tells me NOT to sign it. Instead, due to the misfortune of filling out the PWD application while new changes are occurring at the same time, the facilitator in Victoria feels that I should complete the application booklet. She will try to locate it and send me the third portion. 

NO PROBLEM. Anything to make this whole process less complicated!  Digressing just a bit, I ask the facilitator at CLBC, “I thought the language for special needs had changed along time ago and BANISHED the term Mentally Retarded?”  I loathe that label! She told me I wasn’t the only one and they are changing the language to “Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities” this year.  GOOD. 

I have yet to receive the third portion of the PWD application.  More phone calls were made yesterday attempting to find out what is going on.  I have to wait a week because people are on holidays.



I want all my readers to know and be aware of these things if you live in British Columbia:

a.  If your applying for PWD (or for your loved one), be sure to send with your application, as many documents from credible sources that confirm the applicant’s disabilities.  My opinion?  More information, the better. You do not want to give the government any chances of delaying your application or denying the application.  To challenge a PWD denial, would be a major headache and I don’t want to see anyone go through that.  So send the Psycho-Educational Report along with any documents from Children’s Hospital, Sunny Hill Hospital, Doctors, SLP’s, Child Psychologist/Psychiatrist, a Registered Nurse and so on. 

b. If you are asked to fill out any extra forms from the ministry that raises your alarm bells? If the language doesn’t sound right?  DON’T SIGN IT until you check it out first! FYI – The form that raised my alarm bells was called a “YOUTH TRANSITION CONSENT: AT HOME PROGRAM MEDICAL BENEFITS AND INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES.” This form will not apply to just anyone. At home program?

c.  Language is everything when it comes to documents for special needs individuals.  Know what your talking about and if you struggle with it? Seek out a professional to help you with any of the forms.  These people are Teachers, Advocacy Institutions like CLBC & PLAN, Pediatricians, Family Doctors, Speech Language Pathologists and if you have Autism Funding?  Many specialists will be covered under the funding and you wont have to pay for it. 


If you’ve reached the PWD Benefits stage, I recommend lots of Vitamins!
Because if you’ve reached this far?  You can better avoid any possible mental health breakdowns caused by stress. Yup (I’m pumping myself up here, lol).  Because we as parents of a child with an intellectual or physical disability? We’re not done yet.  We need build our reserves for our future adult children!

So if you’ve reached this far, know that I stand and applaud each and every one of you as a care-giver, parent or legal guardian of a special needs individual. 

This job is not easy.  We are just *F….reakingly* amazing human beings.



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