Across Nova Scotia, thousands of families are asking for help, and their calls are not being answered. According to the latest data from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHC), one in 66 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). That translates to approximately 14,500 Nova Scotians.
We know that with the right supports, autistic individuals can thrive, living rewarding and productive lives. Unfortunately, due to the inability to access the resources and accommodations they require, far too many members of our community are unable to reach their fullest potential.
Our failure to provide quality of life for the province's autism community is not reflective of the values we hold dear in Nova Scotia.
Autism Nova Scotia works tirelessly to provide programs and resources for autistic Nova Scotians as well as their family members and caregivers – but we can’t do it alone. We also appreciate that our government can’t be responsible for all the solutions.
Choosing Now: Investing in Nova Scotians Living with Autism was developed by Autism Nova Scotia with the support of a professional advisory committee to determine the priority areas of focus for autistic Nova Scotians across the lifespan.
The challenges addressed in the report include:
• Lack of access to mental health support
• Obstacles and gaps in the P-12 education system
• Difficulty transitioning out of school to employment programs and supports
• Shortage of funding for family respite and limited residential options
These challenges are debilitating and costly. Choosing Now provides both an overview of the problem and a proposal for a solution. It explains the work that Autism Nova Scotia is doing to support people with autism and their families, and the work they are doing to fill critical gaps in support. Most importantly, it proposes how Autism Nova Scotia, working in conjunction with government and other key system service delivery stakeholders, could create a more sustainable system of supports and resources.
Our province is renowned for our kindness and our compassion – not to mention our grit and tenacity. To put it simply, we can, and must, do better.