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Nova Scotia premier says extreme autism cases merit additional support

Nova Scotia premier says extreme autism cases merit additional support
From Global News - December 7, 2017

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil says a national conversation on autism is needed, but the province must examine existing programs to provide additional support for families who need help.

McNeil reacted Thursday to questions about Carly and John Sutherland, a Halifax-area couple who say there is a lack of supports and programs to help with their nine-year-old son Callum, who struggles with a type of autism that results in violent outbursts.

While not directly addressing the Sutherlands concerns, McNeil said the government needs to respond in acute situations. As an example, he said it may not be appropriate in some cases to have a means test for programs such as respite care.

Potentially the issue is about how do we provide the supports to make sure there is respite care available for them with a support network. If it is about money then we have to look at how we do that, so that will be an ongoing conversation that will take place.

READ MORE:Autism Nova Scotia sees 50 per cent hike in calls about complex autism cases since 2016

On Monday, Carly Sutherland said the province had increased her familys respite funding through its income-based program. An average family could receive up to $3,800 per month for exceptional needs, according to the province.

Sutherland said while she was appreciative of the extra support, whats really required is a needs based service, noting that her family is left to hire, train, and schedule staff to be in her home to support Callum.

The familys plight saw Autism Canada and the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance renew calls for a national strategy, saying Callums case illustrates what happens when families cant get crisis assistance.

WATCH:Carly Sutherland speaks to reporters about her familys desperate search for help for their son, who has autism

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