More Thoughts About The NDIS

From gossip I’ve heard, and, to a lesser extent, based on the precious little of what I’ve seen the NDIS so far, I think parents of children with Autism have cause to be concerned about the amount of service their children will receive under the scheme.

Despite last year’s Government-sponsored report which identified ABA as the treatment of choice for children with Autism, as yet it seems no child in any of the launch sites has been funded for a “proper” ABA program.

As I wrote in the last edition of Rhubarb, the provision of service is decided between each individual client and an NDIS Advisor, and I expressed my concern as to what level of expertise/understanding of various disabilities these Advisors would have. One story that has reached my ears would seem to justify my concern. To simplify the story, and protect the innocent (as they say), I will provide an analogous tale:

Jack is a four year old with Autism. He does not speak, and, like most children with Autism, is prone to tantrums (obviously he has not had an ABA program). As he does not speak, the Advisor decides he needs Speech Pathology.Not being familiar with Autism, the Advisor not realize that the tantrums need to be addressed (and clearly does not recognise that a child with Autism needs a comprehensive ABA program) before a speech therapy intervention can be implemented. The Speech Pathology, addressing the problem in isolation, achieves little, and Jack still has little communicative intent, and his other problems have not been addressed.

The prospect that this sort of well-intentioned, but ultimately misguided, provision of service will often occur under the NDIS is very real, and no more so than in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders where children have multiple and complex needs. Currently young children with a disability can access up to $12,000 under HCWA or Better Start programs. While this is well below what is needed, particularly for a child with Autism, it is still a reasonable amount of money. Whether the same children will get as much ,even though more is needed, under the NDIS remains to be seen. I fear that some children may get less, and I think it is incumbent on every parent to take any opportunity they get, to lobby for recognition that more money must be spent if children with a developmental disability are to reach their potential (ultimately saving money by greatly reducing the need for ongoing supports throughout the rest of the person’s life).

Daryl Cooper.

autism services and support, australia
autism services and support, australia

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