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When there’s nowhere else to turn

by Archives March 23, 2005

Not everyone has the same appreciation for the family unit. Many take their relatives for granted and overlook the significance family members have in their lives.

For others, however, family is the only thing they can trust to look out for them when the rest of society turns its back on them.

In Quebec we claim to support all family types, no matter who they consist of. That might be so, but how much of this support is felt by families with intellectual and physical disabilities?

Lack of resources

Not as much as you might think, according to Quebec health care worker and parent Kathryn Fournier. “The services [for disabled] are extremely limited, there are long waiting lists and I don’t think there are enough resources for families,” says Fournier.

As mother to a child with Retts syndrome, Fournier should know. Her daughter, 12-year-old Melissa, was born a healthy infant but with time the syndrome left her with limited speech and motor skills.

Coping with an ill child is a challenge, but that was only one of the obstacles the Fourniers faced.

The couple had to seek out professional help on their own, a duty that she describes as difficult even for those familiar with the health care system.

“In the system in general [health care workers] were not aware of the resources that were available. I found it was pretty much up to myself to go out there and look for the [resource], ask the question [and] try to find other parents in a similar situation.”

With so much to do, Fournier says it would’ve been nice to have a central place where all services could be obtained for her daughter. She maintains this was and still is not the case.

“There doesn’t seem to be one central location-there is no ‘one stop shopping’ for families,” she concludes.

Luckily, Fournier isn’t alone in the fight. On the other side of the city, in St-Laurent, lives fellow parent Marie Claire Guerin, who works with Fournier at the Shriners hospital .

In the past they have also seen each other at meetings sponsored by Solidarit

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