HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia is setting up two teams of specialists to help young people with autism spectrum disorder who are experiencing serious behavioural issues.

Health Minister Randy Delorey says the goal is to give children and their caregivers the tools they need to deal with challenges before they escalate into something more serious.

The $800,000 pilot program, called the Brief Intensive Outreach Service, will be rolled out this summer.

The two teams -- one in Halifax, the other in Cape Breton -- will work with children and youth under 19 for up to eight weeks to develop a specialized care plan.

Each team will consist of four specialists: a social worker, speech language pathologist, occupational therapist and psychologist.

Offered through the province's existing mental-health system, the program will be run by the Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre in Halifax.

"The new ... service will be able to respond more quickly to the unique needs of children with autism spectrum or other developmental disabilities ... who are experiencing a serious behavioural situation," said Dr. Julie MacDonald, manager of child and adolescent services in Cape Breton.