A new pilot program is being launched to help young people with autism spectrum disorder who are experiencing serious behavioural issues.
“Children often face challenging situations and need support in an environment they’re comfortable in,” said Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey. “Specialists with the new program will work with children and the people caring for them, giving them the tools they need to address issues before they escalate and become more serious.”
Eight new specialists are now being hired as part of the Brief Intensive Outreach Service program. They will make up two teams – one based out of Cape Breton, the other in Halifax. Both teams will have a social worker, speech language pathologist, occupational therapist and psychologist.
“The new Brief Intensive Outreach Service will be able to respond more quickly to the unique needs of children with autism spectrum or other developmental disabilities and their families who are experiencing a serious behavioural situation,” said Dr. Julie MacDonald, manager, Child and Adolescent Services, Cape Breton area, Eastern Zone.
The teams will work with children and youth under 19, as well as their families, for six to eight weeks. Professionals will provide a specialized assessment, care plan and treatment for challenging and difficult situations. The program will be run by Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre. The goal is to give young people and families the skills, tools and support they need to respond to situations that come up on a daily basis. “These services will support families and other community partners, such as schools, to provide more opportunities to help in these situations,” said Jennifer McCarron, manager, IWK Health Centre Mental Health and Addictions.
The teams are expected to be up and running this summer and will be accessed through existing mental health and addictions services.
The province is investing $800,000 annually. The provincial funding for these positions comes from the Canada-Nova Scotia Home and Community Care and Mental Health and Addiction Services Funding Agreement. Announced in December 2016, the federal government is providing Nova Scotia with close to $290 million over 10 years for targeted incremental investments in home and community care and mental health and addiction services.