What support is available for children with autism?
The Australian Government has committed ongoing funding to address the need for services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), their families and carers.
All initiatives include support for parents, families, carers and children from Indigenous backgrounds, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds and those living in rural and remote areas.
How do I access funding?
Following diagnosis, families contact an Autism Advisor in their state or territory who will provide information regarding eligibility, available funding and Early Intervention and other support services. The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) made new Medicare items for children aged under 13 years (for diagnosis/assessment and treatment planning).
To be eligible for the Early Intervention Service children must satisfy each of the eligibility criteria including:
- Residential eligibility
The eligibility criteria for children to access the Early Intervention funding is:
- Eligible children are those aged zero to six years who have been diagnosed in Australia with an ASD;
- A child must have been seen by an Autism Advisor and deemed eligible to access the service before their sixth birthday
- Funding of up to $12,000 (maximum of $6,000 per financial year) can be accessed until the child’s seventh birthday
The Autism Advisor must sight a written conclusive diagnosis made by or through any one of the following:
- The Medicare items through the HCWA strategy
- A State/Territory Government or equivalent multidisciplinary assessment service
- A private multidisciplinary team
A multidisciplinary assessment team must consist of a psychologist and speech therapist but may also include an occupational therapist. An acceptable diagnosis is one of the following as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM) IV under Pervasive Developmental Disorders:
- Autistic Disorder
- Asperger’s Disorder/Syndrome
- Rett’s Disorder
- Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
Please note that having “similar characteristics” to autism is not a conclusive diagnosis. An acceptable form for a diagnosis should include either letter-head paper, which includes the signature and position of diagnosing person; or as an email with ‘approved for transmission’ in the email by the appropriate diagnosing person.
Residential eligibility for access to funding is the same as that for Carer Allowance (Child). That is, both the carer and the child being cared for must be:
- An Australian resident – this means they are living in Australia on a permanent basis and they are either:
- An Australian citizen
- The holder of a permanent resident visa
- The holder of a Special Category Visa: someone who arrived on a NZ passport and who is not affected by the changes to residence requirements, and has lived in Australia for long enough to satisfy qualifying residence periods or the newly arrived resident’s waiting period (whichever applies to the payment being claimed).
If you have any questions regarding helping children with autism or funding for speech therapy session please contact us. Call 1300 123 368 Sydney.
For more information
NSW Autism Spectrum Australia – Aspect. Call 1300 978 611 or (02) 8977 8345 or Click here.