Most individuals who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can access NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme). The amount of funding & type of support depends upon the participant’s age and the severity of the condition.

The eligibility for NDIS is based upon an individual’s reduced capacity in either one or more of the areas mentioned below:

  • Communication
  • Social Interaction
  • Mobility
  • Learning
  • Self-care

However, the application procedure for NDIS is similar for all the above-listed conditions.

Does ASD qualify for NDIS?

Being a permanent disability, NDIS provides funding to individuals with Autism. This spectrum of disorder is actually the largest & primary disability category under NDIS. However, many individuals with NDIS do not fit clearly into one particular category and may require support in some other areas. For many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the NDIS extends the opportunity to receive the supports that they have never had before in life. Thus before actually embarking on the NDIS journey, you are first of all require to ascertain that whether you are eligible for it or not.

Since there are certain degrees of ASD, NDIS looks at how much of the support is being needed to determine whether you are eligible for the scheme. If an individual has level 3 or level 3 autism, they are automatically considered for NDIS funding. (For further details, please refer to NDIS list A)

If an individual has level 1 ASD, he/she is required to provide further additional details on how this particular disability has impacted their lives across a wide range of areas, including communication, social interaction, mobility, learning, self-care & also management.

If an individual is diagnosed with level 1 ASD, (needing some support), Asperger Syndrome, Atypical autism, childhood autism, or some kind of pervasive developmental disorders that don’t meet certain severity criteria, further assessment of functional capability is being needed for determining the eligibility for NDIS funding. (For more information, please refer to NDIS list B).

Of course many individuals with ASD don’t fit clearly into one specific category & they may need support in some other areas. Since NDIS bases out all its decisions on evidence, thus the more participant is able to show that they require support in the above six mentioned areas, the more likely they are able to be approved for NDIS funding.

NDIS funding & Autism support

The type of support services available to individuals with ASD are listed below:

  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy for increasing fine motor skills & capability to concentrate
  • Personal care support services (assistance in showering, toileting, dressing up, eating etc.)
  • Behavioral Support Service (developing relationships & behavioral management techniques)
  • Nutrition (diversification in eating habits)

Since each and every individual’s situation is distinct, thus no two NDIS plans are the same. The funding & type of support received solely depend upon the severity of the condition. It relies upon the kind of support required and personalized goals that the participant wants to achieve through NDIS assistance. The NDIS can, of course, funds an extensive range of supports, depending upon the individual’s condition. Every participant will be receiving a personalized NDIS plan that will provide an overview of the individual situation, supports needed, and how much funds are required.

NDIS pathway for ASD

The participants with 7+ years of age will be able to access funding through NDIS regular pathway.

However, if the child is between the ages of 0-6 years, then he/she will be able to access the NDIS funding via the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) pathway.

The Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) program includes:

  • Early intervention for kids with either developmental delays or disability
  • This program acknowledges that early childhood intervention leads to much better and long-term results.
  • Utilizes a family-centric approach that supports inclusivity in mainstream settings along with building up child & family capacity
  • Connects kids families to services through access partners

NDIS planning & goals for ASD

If a child has developmental delays or disability, the planning process of NDIS is vital for getting the NDIS plan. Since funding will actually be determined based on individual goals, aligning all your goals with NDIS objectives is quite often a great way to begin.

The goal of NDIS is to actually support individuals with a disability for improving their independence, enhance participation in social & economic activities, and develop their capacities for engaging with the community. Thus it is an extremely good idea to be prepared for communication about all your child’s goals, their life, and all personalized needs by the time the NDIS plan meeting comes along.
While developing the child’s personalized goals, it is always a good idea to actually reflect upon the NDIS objectives & just consider how your child’s goals fit within such objectives.

One of the best ways to develop your child’s personal goals is to think upon what all is crucial for the kid’s development. This could include:

  • Improving communication
  • Improving motor skills & coordination
  • Increasing skills for leading independent living
  • Developing social connections
  • Learning ability
  • Accessing community activities

Apart from that, you could also think about all the supports that your kid receives now like speech or occupational therapy and just start developing the goals from there.

What is Autism?

Autism or ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) refers to an extensive range of conditions that are being characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behavioral patterns, speech & non-verbal communication.

Autism is a common type of developmental disorder that impacts the person’s social interaction, behavior, and capability to interact with the environment. ASD impacts an estimated 1% of the entire population (every one individual out of 100 is Autistic). An ASD is a collective term for several distinctive types of disorders that include autism, Asperger syndrome, and other pervasive developmental disorders that are not otherwise specified, PDD- NOS.

Since ADS is a spectrum disorder, every individual with Autism comprises a distinctive set of strengths and challenges. Thus there is a range of severity & characteristics being displayed by every Autistic individual. How the autism diagnosed individuals learn, think, and solve problems may range from highly skilled to severely challenged at the same time. Thus, some people with Autism may require significant support in daily lives while others diagnosed with ASD may require less support. In some other cases, they may live entirely independently.

Signs of ASD mostly start appearing by the age of 2 or 3. Some of the associated developmental delays may start appearing even earlier; it could be diagnosed as early as eighteen months of age. However, certain common signs are exhibited by individuals diagnosed with ASD (which will be discussed later).

Research studies have already illustrated that early intervention can lead to positive outcomes in the later life of individuals diagnosed with ASD.

Is ASD a permanent disability?

Yes, Autism is considered as the permanent disability without any cure.

Severity levels of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Since autism is a spectrum disorder, and this means an individual can be mildly, moderately or even severely autistic. Thus, there are always varying levels of severity. What is more, is that everyone diagnosed with ASD demonstrates additional associated symptoms like intellectual/ language impairments. For helping clinicians to describe the autism individual cases better, three levels of supports have been developed. Thus the clinicians are expected to diagnose the individuals with Autism at levels 1, 2, and 3.

These three levels actually reflect upon the capability of individuals to communicate, adapt to new change & new situations, manage life & also expand beyond the restricted of interests. Individuals at level 1 require relatively low support; people at level 2 require moderate support while those at level three require high level of support.

Although this idea of Autism levels makes logical sense, it is not always easy for the clinician to assign an ASD level, and also assigning these levels can be somewhat subjective. It is also possible for an individual to change their levels over time as their skills improve, and various issues like anxiety level decrease.

Level 1 autism

Level 1 Autism is the least severe & thus could actually be viewed as mild ASD. Individuals with level 1 ASD require the least level of support.
Individuals who qualify as diagnosed with level 1 ASD:

  • Struggle in initiating social interactions
  • Concerns with restrictive/ repetitive behaviors
  • Organizational, planning issues that hamper independence

Level 2 autism

Level 2 is the moderate range of ASD in terms of both severities of symptoms & requirements of supports. However, individuals who qualify having level 2 Autism require more support than ones with level1.

Individuals with level 2 Autism:

  • Face challenges in social situations with limited social interaction & narrow/ specific interests
  • Demonstrate restricted/ repetitive behaviors frequently

Level 3 autism

The level 3 Autism is actually the most severe type of ASD. The level 3 ASD needs a substantial level of support.

Individuals with level 3 Autism

  • Shows significant deficit in verbal, non-verbal & social communication skills
  • Restrictive/ repetitive behaviors that come in the way of independent functioning
  • Show significant level of distress/ difficulty in changing actions or focusing.

Autism: Signs & Symptoms

ASD is a neurodevelopment disorder that is being predominantly characterized by impairment in social functioning & communication disturbances. The behaviors associated with ASD fall into distinctive categories listed below:

  • Social impairments
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Communication difficulties
  • Repetitive behavioral patterns

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) begins during early childhood & eventually causes problems while functioning. It can be diagnosed at any age. In some children, symptoms and impairments are mild, while others may exhibit extremely severe of autistic behaviors.
Although there is no cure for Autism, early treatment can make a huge difference in many individuals’ lives.

Common symptoms & signs of Autism

All children develop linguistic, communication & emotional skills at different points of time; however, for an Autistic child, this particular development is being seriously impaired. Subsequently, it has an extremely significant impact on their lives. The common behavioral patterns being associated with ASD fall in two distinctive categories:

Impaired communication & social interaction

Restricted & repetitive behavioral patterns & interests

In some children, signs, symptoms and impairments are mild, while others may exhibit quite severe ASD behaviors. Some early warning signs of Autism may appear within first two years; however, some children may have many early signs & symptoms while others just have a few.

Common symptoms & signs of Autism include:

  • Lack of social or emotional exchanges, for example, pointing, showing things, smiling, etc
  • Lack of non-verbal communication like nodding, head shaking, or using hand gestures
  • Face difficulty in developing & also maintaining relationships that are appropriate to their age, like peer play or lacking close friends.
  • Delayed expressed speech & also lack of understanding of speech
  • Lack of eye contact while speaking
  • Loss of linguistic skills during any age
  • Following routines, behaviors & patterns excessively & becoming distressed through changes
  • Stereotyped/repetitive speech, mobility, or use of objects like rolling wheels in front of eyes, flapping their hands, or toe walking
  • Strong reaction to sensory inputs like sound, pain, or even textures
  • Restricted/ fixated interests like playing with only a few toys or discussing just certain topics
  • Aggressive towards others or self

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