The NDIS and Autism: How can the NDIS support you?
Tristram Peters is Head of Participant Engagement at Clickability, helping participants find and connect with service providers with expertise in autism. He also co-hosts the Grow Bold with Disability and What Are You Staring At? podcasts. Here, he discusses how the NDIS can support people in the autism community and how Clickability helps autistic people and their families to maximise the potential of the scheme.
People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) might be wondering how the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can support them in their daily lives. Sometimes, the right information can be hard to find.
To help, we’ve written this post for people with autism trying to access the scheme and find the right supports. We will explore:
- How to obtain a diagnosis for autism;
- How you can know if you’re eligible for the NDIS;
- What type of supports the NDIS might fund for people with autism;
- How you can prepare for your first NDIS planning meeting.
Can the NDIS help you get an autism diagnosis?
The NDIS doesn’t provide diagnostic services for autism, instead funding supports and services for those who have already obtained a diagnosis and are eligible for the scheme (more on that below).
But this leaves the question, how can you get a diagnosis? Typically, if you’re seeking a diagnosis for yourself or a loved one, you will need to follow these steps:
- Visit your General Practitioner (GP) to discuss your symptoms and experience. (This can be a bulk billing provider, so you’re not out of pocket if you have Medicare.) Your GP can then provide a referral to see a specialist for further assessment.
- Be assessed by this specialist. This could be a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a developmental paediatrician, depending on where you live. The cost varies greatly but can again be partly rebated through Medicare and private health coverage. These assessments include multiple sessions, with interviews, observations, questionnaires, and often input from family members or carers.
- Receive a diagnostic outcome from the specialist. This might include a formal diagnosis. If so, it’s important that you discuss the diagnosis with the specialist and ask them what support options are available to you.
Sometimes, you can access an assessment without a referral, but this is dependent on the healthcare system and what’s available where you live. This will obviously impact your ability to claim through Medicare. Your GP will still be able to provide guidance on best steps.
Once you have a confirmed diagnosis for yourself or a loved one, you can begin looking at the NDIS for supports and services to help you in your daily life. Next, we go through what is involved in registration on the NDIS.
Is everyone with autism eligible for the NDIS?
Before you begin thinking about the type of supports you need, you will need to first determine if you’re eligible. To be eligible for the NDIS, you must:
- have a permanent disability that affects your ability to participate in everyday activities;
- be less than 65 years of age, when first accessing the scheme;
- be an Australian citizen, live in Australia and hold a permanent visa.
If you meet these criteria, you will need to confirm the level of your autism diagnosis. This will determine what you need to do to request access to the NDIS.
- If you have a Level 1 ASD diagnosis, you will need to provide evidence on the impacts your autism has on your life. This could be from an Occupational Therapy (OT) or psychologist.
- If you have a Level 2 or 3 ASD diagnosis, the NDIS will automatically consider your access request. (But it might still be useful to gather evidence on the impacts of your autism.)
Once you’ve done this, you can complete an Access Request Form through the NDIS. But for anyone under the age of 9 years, you will instead need to go down the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) pathway.
How does Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) work for people with autism?
- providing early intervention for a child with developmental delay or disability;
- increasing your confidence and capacity to manage and respond to your child’s support needs;
- increasing your child’s ability to do activities they need or want to do throughout their day;
- increasing your child’s inclusion and participation in mainstream and community settings like childcare or recreation;
- connecting families to support services and parent support groups.
There is also short-term support, called Short Term Early Intervention (STEI) to assist parents of children regardless of whether their child is eligible for the NDIS or not. To find out more about ECEI or STEI, you can contact your nearest ECEI partner.
What Autism supports will the NDIS fund?
If the NDIS approves your access request for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) support, you will be asked to go to a NDIS planning meeting. At this meeting, you will share your NDIS goals and explain your autism-related needs.
Everyone with autism is unique, so the NDIS will fund supports specific to you. Think about what you like, what you need, what you want, and the goals you hope to achieve under the NDIS.
As examples, your goals could include:
- improving communications skills;
- making social connections;
- building relationships;
- increasing independence.
Depending on your goals, you could be funded for:
NDIS funding for autism will be based on the amount of support you need. It’s important to show evidence as to why you need support to achieve your goals. Evidence is everything in the NDIS.
Who can help you prepare for the NDIS?
If you’re struggling to prepare for your NDIS meeting, speak with your family and friends – and invite them to your planning meeting. They can support you in explaining how your autism impacts you.
How do you find supports for people with autism?
Once you’ve received your first NDIS plan, you can begin looking for supports. In great news, we can help! Head to our Request Service page to find out more.
We also have providers that have been endorsed as having expertise with people with autism, while you can review and endorse providers you love. Search our directory for your providers and then click the ‘Endorse this service’ button.
Visit our Therapies page for further information and support from Clickability.