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Autism funding and programs for 18+ in Nova Scotia

AIDE Canada
This toolkit inventories the autism-related funding, services and support provided by the provincial and territorial governments for individuals older than 18 in Nova Scotia.

Transitioning to adulthood is an important juncture that often presents challenges for autistic youth and adults. Yet it is a different experience for everyone.

As is the case for many government-funded services, once a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) reaches a certain age, the support available to them changes. In most Canadian provinces, children transition into the adult service program on their 18th birthday, some on their 19th birthday.

Transition planning typically begins between the ages of 12 and 16 years old. Entering adulthood can be stressful, and needing to understand a brand new set of government-funded supports and services can be overwhelming.

This page provides information about the government-funded services and supports available to adults living with ASD. It is organized by province and territory. We are hopeful that a robust understanding of what resources are available – in the transition period and beyond – is helpful to individuals and families.

Please note that the age at which a child becomes eligible for adult resources is different across the country. You will find one separate toolkit for each province and territory.



This page outlines government-funded supports and services available to adults (18 years or older) with autism living in the province of Nova Scotia.

Resources and programs for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Nova Scotia are delivered through the province’s Disability Support Program (DSP).


Disability Support Program (DSP)

DSP serves children, youth and adults with intellectual disabilities, long-term mental illness and physical disabilities in a range of community-based, residential and vocational/day programs. These are voluntary programs designed to support people at various stages of their development and independence.


Programs/Resources within DSP:



DSP provides a continuum of residential support options for individuals with disabilities. The goal is to create a range of residential programs that can support people at various stages of their development and independence. 

These settings provide support and supervision in homes with three or more beds. The options for placement in any particular Home for Special Care are limited by the level(s) of care/program they provide as per their licensed mandate under the Homes for Special Care Act.


Licensed Homes for Special Care include:

  • Small Option Home (SOH): Small Option Homes provide support for three to four persons with disabilities in community homes. The residents are supported by qualified staff through a combination of live-in and shift models.
  • Group Homes / Developmental Residences: Group Homes and Developmental Residences provide a continuum of developmental rehabilitation programs for individuals with disabilities within a four-12 person residential setting. Developmental residences and group homes emphasize the development of interpersonal, community-oriented skills, and activities of daily living. Group Homes primarily serve younger persons with one or more of the following types of disabilities: intellectual disability, long-term mental illness, or physical disability. Developmental Residences primarily serve younger adults with an intellectual disability or dual diagnosis.
  • Residential Care Facilities: Residential Care Facilities provide a residential support option to four or more adults with disabilities who require minimal support and supervision with routine personal-care activities, community skills and activities, and illness supervision. Individuals are provided with limited direct support and do not have major health or behavioural support needs. 
  • Adult Residential Centres: Adult Residential Centres provide long-term structured supports and services to adults with disabilities to enhance the development of their interpersonal daily living skills. Approved staffing is provided on a 24-hour / 7-day a week basis by on-site professional staff.
  • Regional Rehabilitation Centres: Regional Rehabilitation Centres provide both rehabilitation and developmental programs to adults with disabilities who require an intensive level of support and supervision related to complex behavioural challenges and skill development needs. Approved staffing is provided on a 24 hour / 7-day a week basis by on-site professional staff.



Eligibility for admission into a Home for Special Care is determined by a functional and financial assessment.


Next steps

 For more information on the program, or how to apply, contact the nearest office of the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services.




 Flex provides individualized funding to participants living at home with their families or who live independently with support from their families or personal support networks. That funding is used to:

  • purchase supports specific to a participant’s disability-related needs and goals;
  • promote the participant's independence, self-reliance, and social inclusion; and
  • offer an alternative to, prevent or delay a participant’s placement in a DSP-funded residential support option.

Flex provides up to $2,200 per month to participants who live at home with their families, or who live independently with support from their families or personal networks. There is no waitlist and no maximum number of participants. For people in the Flex Program with higher needs, the Flex Enhanced program is also available, with up to $1,600 per month in support.



To be eligible for the Flex program an applicant must meet all of the DSP general eligibility requirements outlined in section 4.0 of the DSP Program Policy, in sections 4.0 and 5.0 of the DSP Financial Eligibility Policy and meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the Level of Support Policy.


More Information

Read more in the FLEX Policy (PDF).




Vocational and other day program services complement the residential and other community-based support systems provided under the Disability Support Program (DSP).

Adult Service Centers were established in Nova Scotia to provide community-based vocational programs for adults with disabilities. Currently, Adult Service Centres provide employment, skills training and day program opportunities for adults with disabilities in communities across Nova Scotia.


Next steps

Adults with disabilities seeking admission to an Adult Service Centre can apply directly to the centre in their home area.

Please refer to the DIRECTIONS Council for Vocational Services Society, a not-for-profit organization representing 29 Adult Service Centre member agencies throughout Nova Scotia.

You can also contact the nearest office of the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services.




The Alternative Family Support Program (AFS) supports persons with disabilities in an approved, private family home. Support and supervision are provided for up to two individuals unrelated to the AFS provider.

The program provides a family-like setting for individuals who may require varying levels of support and supervision, who may prefer living with a family, and who will benefit from the additional support a family environment can provide.



Residents are eligible to receive funding based on their need for items such as room and board, support and supervision, and respite, as outlined in the AFS policy (PDF).


More Information

For more information on the program, or to learn how to apply, contact the nearest office of the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services.

You can also refer to the Alternative Family Support Program Policy.



The overall objective of the Workplace Support Program is to improve employment outcomes of persons with disabilities by increasing labour market participation rates. 

There are two components to the Workplace Support Program:

  • Workplace Attendant Support component
  • Technical Aids and Assistive Devices component.


Workplace Attendant Support Program

The Workplace Support Program is funded by the Province of Nova Scotia with the goal of improving the employment situation for Nova Scotians having disability. (Program Standards)

Funding through the Workplace Attendant Support component of the Program is intended to support individuals having a significant disability who are starting an employment opportunity and require supports related to the performance of the job.

 This program is intended to support individuals who have employment in the competitive labour market only. The program is not intended to support individuals who are self-employed.

Complete the Workplace Attendant Support Program application to apply.

Technical Aids and Assistive Devices

Funding through the Technical Aids and Assistive Devices component of the Program is intended to support individuals having a disability who are currently employed or are starting an employment opportunity in the competitive labour market and require supports to do the job.

Complete the Technical Aid Application to apply.


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