Side by Side Snippets

Autism and the NDIS…. it’s just around the corner.IMG_8031

Mildura and surrounding towns are on the cusp of becoming part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, with it beginning in Mildura in January 2019 and in light of this, I thought I would share my thoughts and impressions on this so far.

Being a psychologist who predominantly works with people and families affected by Autism, I have been following the impact of this scheme on this client group for some time.

The main pieces of information that families may be keen to keep in mind with regard to thinking of applying to the the scheme is that autism as a condition has been split into two lists.  These lists are of disabilities that the NDIS may recognise as conditions which are likely to meet their criteria for admission to the scheme.  Autism Spectrum Disorder has been placed on List A, but with this criteria; that it has been diagnosed by

“a specialist multi-disciplinary team, paediatrician, psychiatrist or clinical psychologist experienced in the assessment of Pervasive Developmental Disorders, and assessed using the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) diagnostic criteria as having severity of Level 2 (Requiring substantial support) or Level 3 (Requiring very substantial support)”

Those with diagnoses done prior to the release of the DSM-V (May 2013), or that were given another diagnostic label such as Aspergers Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified  (PDDNOS) or have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (level 1, requiring support), Atypical Autism etc, must provide more evidence of functional impairment of their permanent condition, which will be reviewed to determine eligibility.

The evidence must relate to one or more of the following areas to show there is substantially reduced functional capacity in:

  • communication;
  • social interaction;
  • learning;
  • mobility;
  • self-care;
  • self-management;
  • capacity for social or economic participation

Despite the DSM stating that these impairment levels (used in diagnosis and which can be applied to two part of the diagnostic criteria) should NOT be used to determine eligibility for service provision, this is essentially what the NDIA has done to people with an Autism diagnosis in Australia.

What does this mean for people in practical terms?  It means that you need to have a good understanding of where your or your child’s diagnosis fits with this kind of categorisation.  And you need to either have a current DSM-V diagnosis or be able to determine where the diagnosis that was obtained  fits within those criteria.

Additionally and hopefully more importantly, the application for the scheme will require families to document in as much detail as possible how their autism affects them in their day-to-day live across those domains listed above.

It is the degree of impact that we understand will determine whether a planning meeting to discuss needs will be granted.  Once that has been granted, ask for a face to face meeting and think on any and all things that may be a barrier to ‘an ordinary life’ for you or your child/partner and how supports could help to change this.

Side by Side Psychology is available to provide adaptive behaviour assessments that can be used to complement your current autism diagnostic report.

Kate French, Clinical Psychologist is the owner of Side by Side Psychology and has a new site opening soon in Mildura, Victoria.