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(Canada) Nova Scotia: 1,700 on waitlist for ASD, ADHD assessments; many wait years

Sept 12, 2023, CBS News: Province to pay private psychologists to address backlog of ADHD, autism testing

More than 1,700 children are on provincial waiting lists for assessments.

Nova Scotia has announced it will pay private-practice psychologists to perform autism spectrum and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) assessments to address the provincial backlog.

The province said there are about 1,300 children waiting for autism testing and 400 waiting for ADHD testing.

"Certainly, there has been a long-standing issue I would say in the province," Brian Comer, minister responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health, told CBC Radio's Information Morning Cape Breton on Tuesday.

"[It's] really, really important and critical that families and children get that early diagnostic assessment, that way it opens the door to specific interventions for families that really need it."

Autism Nova Scotia says many children wait months or years to receive an autism diagnosis.

The province said it will spend $500,000 [$370K U.S] on the collaborative pilot program, which was announced on Monday.

Comer said there has been an increase in autism diagnoses in the province over the last few years. He said the IWK Health Centre in Halifax receives the bulk of referral, with close to 100 new referrals a month.

He said autism spectrum testing can cost between $2,000 to $4,000 and ADHD testing can be between $1,000 and $3,500. But through this new publicly funded model, there will be no cost of families, he said.

The province will pay psychologists to perform the assessments using health service codes, which is a first for mental health and addictions care in the province.

"This is a really I think innovative partnership," Comer said." In many ways, we're really pulling a new lever to to really try to get families access to services.


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