Autism and the NDIS

There has been much discussion in the media of late about the assessment of NDIS eligibility for individuals with autism.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is currently assessed using a range of diagnostic tools in accordance with a recognised DSM-5 scale – with Levels 1, 2 and 3 based on severity, and increased requirement for support.

There has been some concern in the community, fueled by some miscommunications from the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), that the Government may seek to limit participation in the Scheme, potentially to only support individuals diagnosed as Level 1. This is seen as driven by a fear of Scheme cost blow-outs, with a potential underestimation of the number of people with autism requiring access to the scheme.

The likely scale of required funding to support the needs of those living with an ASD is known.

A 2017 report on the sector from KPMG highlighted projections that the largest growth in disability participants under the NDIS will be those with an intellectual disability, and those with autism (see Figure 1) – requiring funded access to early intervention therapy, behavioural treatments and medicines.

Figure 1.

*SOURCE: KPMG Report NDIS: Shaping the Future of South Australia

The report also showed that the bulk of new participants would be in the 5-14 age group bringing an emphasis on early intervention (see Figure 2).

Figure 2.

*SOURCE: KPMG Report NDIS: Shaping the Future of South Australia

The Federal Government has been quick to respond to concerns about access to the NDIS, insisting that no changes had been made to accessibility funding for individuals with ASD.

The Government also announced in June this year the formation of the Autism Advisory Group (AAG) – as an umbrella for several autism advocacy associations – and charter to assist in ensuring a voice for those with ASD in guiding the development of the Scheme. The Group will provide advice and feedback to the NDIA in four key areas:

  • Exploring the most appropriate approach for assessing NDIS eligibility and improving outcomes for people with autism
  • Improving the NDIS participant experience for people with autism
  • Enhancing the skills of NDIA staff, local area coordinators and early childhood early intervention staff
  • Providing greater mainstream and community inclusion for people with autism

The charter of the group is to maximise the funding investment in the NDIS targeted to positively assist people with autism.

We welcome the Government’s move to working collaboratively with the sector to ensure a voice in the most effective delivery of the scheme to support participants with ASD and look forward to following the actions of the Advisory Group over the coming months.

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