Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental condition impacting communication, social interactions and the perception of the world.
ASD is a ‘spectrum’ condition, meaning that whilst many people with autism might experience similar challenges, their condition will affect them in different ways. It is estimated that 1 in 70 people are affected by the condition.
Challenges Associated with Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorder is often linked with mental, physical and developmental conditions.
Some common challenges associate with Autism Spectrum Disorder include:
- Speech and language difficulties
- Intellectual disability
- Difficulty with sleep
- Gastro-intestinal issues
- Challenges with gross and fine motor skills
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and Autism
What is the NDIS?
The NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) provides funding to individuals with disability to access reasonable and necessary supports to assist them in reaching their goals, accessing mainstream services (health, housing & education); accessing community services (sports clubs and libraries); and maintaining informal supports (family and friends).
The NDIS is implemented by the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency).
You can learn more here.
NDIS Eligibility for Autism Support
It sure does! Autism Spectrum Disorder qualifies as the largest primary disability category for the NDIS.
To be eligible for the NDIS, you must:
- Be aged between 7 and 65;
- Live in Australia and have Australian residency;
- require support because of a significant and permanent disability; or
- require special equipment because of a significant and permanent disability; or
- need some supports now to reduce your future needs.
Understanding ASD Levels
Because ASD is a spectrum condition, and affects each individual differently, the NDIS take into consideration the level of support you require when determining your eligibility for funding.
If you have a level 2 or 3 ASD diagnosis, your access request will automatically be considered by the NDIS.
If you have a level 1 ASD diagnosis, you may still be eligible, but will be required to provide supporting documents and evidence of the impact your disability has on your every day life.
ASD Levels explained
There are three functional levels of Autism. In a nutshell these are:
ASD Level 1 : Requires support.
ASD level 1 is the mildest or least severe. Those diagnosed with level 1 ASD might require support with difficulties in social settings and lack of planning and organisational skills.
ASD Level 2: Requires substantial support.
ASD level 2 is the middle-range. People who are diagnosed as level 2 require substantial support. Individuals may have trouble communicating verbally, have limited interests and display repetitive behaviours.
ASD Level 3: Requires very substantial support.
ASD level 3 is the most severe, with individuals requiring very substantial support. The challenges faced are similar to those of levels 1 and 2 but far more severe, and usually accompanied by other difficulties.
Support for Children Under 7
If your child is aged 6 years old or younger but requires support, you maybe eligible to receive NDIS funding from an Early Childhood Partner under the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) program. The ECEI program was designed to support children under seven who may have a developmental delay or disability.
The early childhood approach also enables children who may not completely fit the definition of ‘developmental delay’ but have developmental concerns to access the necessary supports.
If your child is under 7 and you require support, you should contact the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) on 1800 800 110. You may then be referred to a local early childhood partner.
How much funding will I get in my NDIS plan?
NDIS funding for autism is not means tested, rather, it is based on the level of support that you need. ASD is a spectrum disorder, meaning the support needs, goals and circumstances of each individual are completely unique. The NDIS will provide funding for supports that are relevant to you and your situation.
Before your planning meeting you should consider what your goals are and what is important to you. The NDIS strives to support individuals with a disability to improve their independence, increase participation in social and economic activities and in developing their capacity to engage with their community, when considering your goals, it can be helpful to have these objectives in mind.
What funded supports can I access?
Some examples of supports and services you may be able to access with your NDIS funding include:
- Speech therapy,
- Occupational therapy,
- Assistive technology and equipment,
- Personal care and assistance with everyday activities,
- Home modifications
- Social and economic participation
- Behavioural management
- and more
How do I find NDIS service providers for Autism?
A Service provider is an individual or organisation delivering a support or a product to a participant of the NDIS. There are many ways to find and engage with service providers including via our NDIS Provider Finder, a great resource for finding NDIS Registered service providers. Don’t forget, if you are plan managed, self-managed, or a combination, you have the freedom to use your NDIS funding with any service provider of your choosing, whether they are NDIS registered or not.