Province Unveils New Pre-school Autism Services

New care model is supported by a $12-million dollar investment

Pre-school age children on the autism spectrum and their families will soon have access to a broader range of tailored supports.

The new care model will ensure that families have access to earlier intervention and that they are aware of what services are available, how to access them and who is eligible. Families and service providers will also have access to the education they need to best support the individual needs of each child.

“This is about making sure children on the autism spectrum and their families have access to appropriate interventions and supports,” said Brian Comer, Minister responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health. “Families have to wait too long to get the support they need and that needs to change. This will reduce waits for programs and ensure that children are receiving the right level of care at the right time regardless of where in the province they live.”

Enhanced services include:
— a single point of access to supports for families and children
— the creation of autism spectrum disorder intervention teams that will provide targeted, focused and comprehensive services based on goals and needs identified by families
— a central waitlist for diagnosis, more clinicians dedicated to conducting diagnostic assessments, and training for community physicians to engage in autism diagnosis
— an intensive 12-month intervention program for children identified with the greatest social communication and behaviour needs
— provincewide access to the QuickStart Nova Scotia program for toddlers
— educational resources and programs, including online modules and education session for caregivers, families and providers.

The new model was developed in partnership with Autism Nova Scotia, Hearing and Speech Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Health Authority, IWK Health, and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, and a representative of families with autistic children. The supports will be rolled out over the next two years.

“We are grateful to the provincial government for recognizing the need for a larger investment in autism supports. Once fully realized, this investment will create a comprehensive integrated service delivery system for autism that will better support families as they begin their journey in the early years.”

– Cynthia Carroll, Executive Director, Autism Nova Scotia

“As a mother of two children on the autism spectrum, I was honoured to be given the opportunity to be a voice for families and to work alongside government, the IWK, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Hearing and Speech Nova Scotia and Autism Nova Scotia to develop solutions and services that will directly impact children. Believing in children is the key to their success but believing in autistic children can change their lives.”

– Lisa Foley, parent and advisory committee member

Quick Facts:
— the new care model is supported by a $12-million dollar investment announced in Budget 2022-2023
— on average, one in 34 five-year-old children in the province have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder
— QuickStart Nova Scotia is an early intervention, parent-mediated coaching program for families of toddlers suspected of or diagnosed with autism; the program is currently only offered to families in Halifax Regional Municipality

Additional Resources:
Supports for autism spectrum disorder:

Autism Nova Scotia:

QuickStart Nova Scotia:

Hearing and Speech Nova Scotia:

Source: Release

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