Support for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Programs and services available for children, adolescents, and adults with autism spectrum disorder in Nova Scotia.

Preschool and Pre-primary

(Up to age 6, or when child enters grade primary)

Elementary School

(Age 4–12)

Junior High and High School

(Age 12–21)

Adult

(19+)

Diagnosis
preschool
elementary
junior high and high school
Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI)
preschool
Strategies for Teaching Based on Autism Research (STAR)
elementary
Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS)
junior high and high school
IWK's Autism Team
preschool
elementary
junior high and high school
Community child and adolescent clinics
preschool
elementary
junior high and high school
Direct Family Support Program for Children (DFSC)
preschool
elementary
junior high and high school
Public school and transition supports
elementary
junior high and high school
Tuition support
elementary
junior high and high school
Summer respite
preschool
elementary
junior high and high school
Small option homes
junior high and high school
adult
Flex Program
adult
Emerald Hall and Community Assessment Support and Treatment (COAST)
adult
Day programming
adult
Employment supports
adult
Job Coaching
adult
Support for Post-Secondary Education
adult

Diagnosis

Symptoms usually appear before age 3. Ask your care provider to screen for signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at your 18-month and two-year well-baby visits – or anytime after – if you have concerns.

Ask your care provider

Your care provider can screen for the signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI)

Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI) is a specialized treatment to develop functional social-communication skills in preschool children. The earlier a child begins EIBI, the better the outcomes. To qualify, the preschool child must have a clinical diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Phone

In Halifax, call the IWK: 902-457-5020

Outside of Halifax contact the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA):

Strategies for Teaching Based on Autism Research (STAR)

Programming is individualized to address the needs of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Some specialized programming for students at elementary school includes STAR (Strategies for Teaching Based on Autism Research).

Ask your child's school

This programming is delivered by schools.

Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS)

Programming is individualized to address the needs of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Some specialized programming offered at junior and senior high school includes PEERS (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills), a social skills program for older students with ASD.

Ask your child's school

This programming is delivered by schools.

IWK’s Autism Team

The IWK Autism Team offers diagnostic, consultation, and intervention services for children, adolescents, and their families.

Phone

902-470-7730

Community child and adolescent clinics

Nova Scotia Health Authority's community child and adolescent clinics offer diagnostic assessment and treatment for children with ASD and concurrant mental health disorders, including significant behavioural disorders. These multidisciplinary teams work to meet the functional and mental health needs of children and adolescents and their families.

Phone

For more information, contact Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA):

Direct Family Support Program for Children (DFSC)

The Direct Family Support Program for Children (DFSC) provides up to $2,200 per month to qualifying families caring for children with disabilities at home to access respite services.

For families with children with higher needs, the Enhanced Family Support for Children program is also available, with up to $1,600 per month to purchase additional, specialized support.

There is no waitlist for these supports.

Online

Details about this program are on the Community Services website.

Phone

Contact the Department of Community services to determine eligibility at 1-877-424-1177.

School transitions

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) receive support to transition into and out of the public school system. School teams collaborate with families and preschool service providers to develop transition plans into school. Transition planning is also conducted to support students graduating from high school to develop a plan to take the next step in their lives.

Public school and transition supports

Children in the public school system have access to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) specialists, school psychologists, speech language pathologists, classroom/ resource/learning centre teachers, teacher assistants, student services coordinators and/or facilitators.

School program planning teams develop and implement programs and services. An annual grant to school boards supports staff education in ASD.

The APSEA Autism in Education Partnership website offers research, and information to educators, families, and other service providers.

In addition to support provided within public schools, children with ASD receive support to transition into and out of the public school system.

Tuition support

The Tuition Support Program gives eligible students an option to access specialized programming and services at one of three designated special education private schools. In 2018-19, students may receive up to a maximum of $8,500. Families may be eligible to apply for supplemental funding based on their income.

Online

Details and application form for this program are available on the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development website.

Summer respite

The summer respite program provides funding so that children in the Direct Family Support for Children program who have autism and other disabilities can participate in out-of-home activities:

  • $500/year for children under 12;
  • $1,000/year for ages 12-19.

Phone

Families with children in the Direct Family Support program can phone your local Community Services office to access funding for summer respite.

Small option homes

Small options homes provide a home for people with disabilities, including autism. Residents are supported by qualified staff.

Phone

You can phone your local Community Services office or 211 for more information.

Flex Program

Provides up to $2,200 per month to participants who live at home with their families, or who live independently with support from their families or personal networks. There is no waitlist and no maximum on the number of participants.

For people in the Flex Program with higher needs, the Flex Enhanced program is also available, with up to $1,600 per month in support.

Phone

You can phone your local Community Services office or 211 for more information.

Emerald Hall and the Community Outreach Assessment Support and Treatment (COAST) team

Two components of NSHA’s Dual Diagnosis Program, which provides support for adults living with an intellectual or developmental disability and a complex mental illness or behavioral difficulties. People can access community-based services through the COAST team and acute, inpatient services at Emerald Hall.

Ask your care provider

This program requires a referral from your care provider.

Day programming

Day programming helps persons with disabilities, including autism, participate in community-based day activities such as employment support, skills building, and recreational and leisure activities.

Phone

You can phone your local Community Services office or 211 for more information.

Employment supports

The Ability Works and Workplace Supports programs provide persons with disabilities, including autism, with employability skills and work experience to help them get, and keep, a job

Phone

You can phone your local Community Services office or 211 for more information.

Through Nova Scotia Works, Community-based service providers have agreements with the province to provide employment services and coaching to clients who need significant case management.

Phone

Contact Autism Nova Scotia 1-877-544-4495.

Job coaching

This program is available to help people with autism better transition into the workforce and remain there. Coaching helps address the unique needs of people with autism, some of whom have university degrees but are unable to secure employment.

Phone

Contact Autism Nova Scotia 1-877-544-4495.

Support for Post-Secondary Education

Students enrolled in university and college programs may be eligible for access grants, funding for disability supports, loan forgiveness programs, and loan repayment assistance through the Department of Labour and Advanced Education.

NSCC Achieve

NSCC Achieve is a one-year college inclusive education program for 18-21-year-olds that prepares students for independent living, transitioning to the community, and/or further education.

Phone

Contact Nova Scotia Community College 902-893-5385.

MountAbility

MountAbility is an inclusive post-secondary education program that welcomes students with diverse abilities to explore academic interests, engage in lifelong learning, and make meaningful connections within the Mount community.

Phone

Contact Mount Saint Vincent University 902-457-6412.

Axcess Acadia

Axcess Acadia is for students who self-identify as having a disability (intellectual, developmental, or learning) and who would not meet the current admission criteria set by the university. Students graduate with a certificate of completion in: Arts, Science, Professional Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies.

Phone

Contact Acadia University 902-542-2201.