Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia autism panel investigating wait list

Nova Scotia's health minister has appointed an expert panel to make recommendations on how to improve the treatment of children diagnosed with autism.

Doctors, psychologists and others preparing report for government

Health Minister Leo Glavine appointed the panel to improve treatment for kids with autism. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's health minister has appointed an expert panel to make recommendations on how to improve the treatment of children diagnosed with autism.

Leo Glavine says the nine-member panel will research the latest evidence around autism and will report back to him later in the fall with recommendations. 

"We need to make sure that children with autism get the treatment they need at the right age, before they start school," Glavine said in a news release. 

"We know this is an important issue, and we must act quickly. But we also must ensure that our decisions are based on the best available evidence."

The panel includes doctors, psychologists and others who work with children with autism. It comprises:

  • Dr. Dorothy Chitty, psychologist and provincial clinical leader with the Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention Program
  • Dr. Isabel Smith, professor in pediatrics and psychology and neurosciences at Dalhousie University, and psychologist at the IWK Health Centre
  • Teresa Alexander-Arab, speech language pathologist and clinical director at the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres
  • Dr. Tara Szuszkiewicz, psychologist and clinical leader of the Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention Program for Annapolis Valley Health
  • Cynthia Carroll, executive director, Autism Nova Scotia
  • Norman Donovan, family advocate
  • Nick Phillips, co-ordinator of special needs child care policy and program development for the Education and Early Childhood Development
  • Susan Jozsa, autism consultant, with Education and Early Childhood Development
  • Patricia Murray, special adviser to the associate deputy minister on mental health and addictions, Department of Health and Wellness

The Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention program was introduced in 2005 to help children with autism get treatment before they entered school.

The provincial government says about 130 children participate in the program each year and nearly 200 children are on the wait list. 

"Families with autism find this program extremely valuable," said Isabel Smith. "I'm pleased to be able to work with government to extend the reach of the program, and to put children on the right path as they start school."

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