A growing wait list and not enough funding are making it difficult for students with mental disabilities to pursue higher education in Nova Scotia, according to advocates.
For students with autism, school doesn't end at their Grade 12 graduation.
Yossef Massaud is one of the few lucky high school graduates who has been accepted into a program with the Prescott Group. The group teaches work skills to people with mental disabilities.
Massaud has autism and his mother, Nabiha Atallah, says without a full-time program they would have been lost.
"So it's much more challenging when you have to put many pieces together and then make sure they are all running smoothly every week. It's quite a stressful situation we have been in before," she said.
"Not knowing what's going to happen is always a stress."
Most groups helping people with mental disabilities depend on the government for funds.
Marilyn Forrest, director of the Building Futures Employment Society, says her group’s wait list is 70 people long and about 20 per cent are recent graduates.
She said Building Futures helps their clients gain skills to work in the community.
"It leaves them home. It leaves them wondering what they're going to be doing with their lives and that's difficult for them, for their families, for their community."
The province admits more needs to be done.
"So since we've been in we've raised the monthly allowance. It's still not enough, but we have made an effort to raise those dollars. We said we have invested in the day programs. The first time in well over 10 years," said Denise Peterson-Rafuse, the minister responsible of commmunity services.
Atallah said the problem is only going to get worse if the province doesn't step in.
"There are more and more young kids diagnosed with disabilities. Yossef has autism and we know that the incidence of autism has increased and is continuing to increase," she said.
"Kids with autism grow up."