Barb Gillis doesn't want her autistic son Paul living in a mental institution,she wants to see him in a provincial home for persons living with disabilities. ((CBC))

A Nova Scotia woman believes her adult autistic son isn't getting the care he needs at a mental institution.

Barb Gillis' son Paul is 20-years-old, but his autism will always make him behave like a child.

He now lives at the Nova Scotia Hospital.

"My concerns are that it is a mental institution and autism is not a mental illness," said Gillis.

Barb Gillis raised him at home for most of his life, but as he got older aggression increasingly became a problem.

"I have seen him be angry and frustrated and he is very strong and he's a big boy and it can be overwhelming," said Gillis.

Gillis said she can no longer handle him on her own as a single mother who needs to earn a living.

In 2009, his father checked him into Quest — a voluntary residence for people with severe mental health issues.

Last November, he moved into the hospital when physicians wanted to try new medication.

"They have put him on lithium against my better judgment and he's now shaking like he has Parkinson's Disease," said Gillis.

Community Services has classified him as a danger to himself and the public, but his mother said he's misunderstood.

"Paul has a wonderful sense of humour, kind and gentle is his true self," Gillis said.

Paul's mother said the hospital is a cold and clinical place where Paul spends most of his time confined to his room. She said what he needs is an extended family, something he won't find at an institution.

"He needs an environment where he can do as he's doing now, go to the kitchen and make a snack, he has a pet, he can go in the yard and play," said Gillis.

Right now, Paul is one of 250 Nova Scotians waiting to be placed in a provincial home for persons with disabilities.

His future should start now, not when they're ready," said Gillis. "I'm ready, Paul's ready, what's wrong with them?"

Gillis said she continues to try to secure the right place for Paul. She knows she's not alone. Dozens of other families are also trying to find the right care for their grown autistic children.