Brian Comer, Minister responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health. (Healey photo)

From a release

HALIFAX: More preschool and school-aged children will have access to assessment and diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) through a new pilot program – the first of its kind in the province.

“An ASD or ADHD diagnosis opens the door to a range of supports in our healthcare system and in the community,” said Brian Comer, Minister responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health.

“Through this pilot project, we’re testing a new approach to delivering mental healthcare, while at the same time addressing a long-standing need in our system.

“This is an important milestone for Nova Scotia on the road to universal mental health and addictions care.”


Nova Scotia has committed $500,000 to the pilot program, which will test publicly funding private practice psychologists through a fee-for-service model. This includes using health service codes that outline billing fees – a first for mental health and addictions care in Nova Scotia.

Through this pilot, the government will contract the services of registered private psychologists to complete diagnostic assessments for ASD and ADHD for children and adolescents on public wait lists for these services.

Those on the wait list may be referred to a private clinical psychologist for assessment in their office.

As the model is publicly funded, there will be no cost to families for assessments done under this pilot.


People on the wait list will be contacted as appointments become available. The number of assessments during the 12-month pilot will be determined by interest and uptake from private practice psychologists.


“Many families and caregivers are without the means to access an autism diagnosis for their child before or after they start school – they remain on wait lists for months or even years.

“Through this pilot project, more families will be able to access diagnostic services for their child, helping to set them up for educational success and access the support they need.”
     – Cynthia Carroll, Executive Director, Autism Nova Scotia


“Psychologists play a key role in the assessment and treatment of both autism and ADHD, along with a range of mental health issues. APNS is pleased to have had the opportunity to work with government to develop this important pilot project.

“What we learn over the next year – and the positive results that will come – will help inform how we work together to ensure all Nova Scotians have ongoing access to essential mental health care.”
     – Susan Marsh, Executive Director, Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia

Quick Facts:

— there are about 1,300 children on the wait list for autism assessment in Nova Scotia and 400 on the wait list for ADHD
— parents who want to learn more about ASD or ADHD assessment for their child should see their primary care provider; Nova Scotians on the Need A Family Practice wait list can access primary care in person and online at or by calling 811