beyond school

Community participation

Social and Community Participation

The NDIS has brought personal choice and control to participants.

This has opened up a variety of support options for young autistic adults that can assist them post-school with skills building and training for social and community participation, including preparing for, and support in work, and working towards independent living.

Prior to the NDIS, these options were usually known as ‘community participation’ or ‘day programs,’ and were centrally funded. Currently, each NDIS participant can plan for their own individual goals, and where their funding goes. This has led to greater variety for programs and personal choices.

NDIS Funding

Assistance to enable participation in social and community activities can be funded by the NDIS under Core Support and Capacity Building budgets.

Core support funding enables NDIS participants to engage in social or recreational activities within the community, for example, camps, vacation care, courses, activities and membership fees.

Capacity building funding allows participation in skills-based learning to develop independence in accessing community, for example, classes, coaching, mentoring or peer support.

Please check with your LAC or plan manager what your funding package will cover.

Types of Activities

Group and Centre Based Activities

Small group activities are often run at the provider’s centre, and can include outings and activities within the local and wider community, for example, grocery shopping.

Community Based Activities

You take part in activities of your choosing within your local community, with the help and support from a service provider, for example, joining a social group or attending a camp.

Self-managed model

You employ your own care workers who assist you to enjoy recreational, educational and sporting activities.

Examples of how people use their funding

The arrival of the NDIS has seen many more service providers in the disability space, large and small. Some people with disability choose to go to a day program five days a week, finding that regular contact with the same people and the same environment works best for them.

In other families, each day of the week can be different for the NDIS participant. There might be a variety of different day or half-day centre-based programs, followed by a day spend with a support worker out and about in the community doing things like:

  • Spending time volunteering at an animal shelter
  • Delivering newspapers or leaflets
  • Spending time with a musician in a studio creating music
  • Taking part in exercise classes
  • Visiting the gym
  • Volunteering for local charities
  • Visiting places of interest
An interview with Wendy, mum of Alex who has high support needs.

I can design the week around Alex’s interests. He has funding both from his Core Supports budget and from Capacity Building Relationships budget. He has funding which pays for regular physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational support. Alex attends a centre-based program three mornings a week. He enjoys spending time with the young support workers there as well as other young people similar to himself, his friends. He will go there more often in the future.

For my son it is all about having the right people around him, both the other participants and the support staff. We have learned that he is confident and happy in the company of young adults who have a significant intellectual disability, without a co-occurring autism diagnosis. He is triggered by being around people who have autism with high support needs, like he does.

Families and people with autism are in the position now where there are lots of good service providers around, large and small. Programs can be designed around the interests of the person with autism, and every day can be different if that works for them.

For Alex, the advantage of centre-based programs is that he can get to know other participants and can make friends there, and friends are really important to him.

We have found that there are times when a really good employee leaves a service and we decide to leave too. I always say that it is best to move around if you need to, and not to burn bridges. You never know when a service might change their employees or programs and be an excellent place to attend again.

There is a lot of work involved in finding the best service providers for your young person, it can take a lot of time. So for some families, just starting off with your child in centre-based care for most of the week can work well. That gives you time to explore all the other options.

Thank you Wendy

A final thought for families

Whilst you need to be managing your family member’s needs and responding to them as they change, you can easily end up in burnout. Ensuring that you take good care of yourself is vital. You know that already, but it is always worth checking in with yourself and how you can implement good self-care practices regularly.