Autism Spectrum


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Our Story: Getting Started With The NDIS

Getting started with NDIS

Here’s a story which we hope readers will find useful.  Charmaine is the mum of Jack, a teenager who lives in the NDIS trial site in Newcastle, NSW.

In this Q+A, Charmaine explains how the family’s initial meetings with the NDIS went, and she gives her advice for other families coming through.

Jack is 13 years old and goes to a local high school in a support class.


First Planning Meeting

How did you find the process of applying to the NDIS?

I found the process of applying to the scheme very daunting.

Initially, there was the Access Request Form to fill out along with all of the diagnosis documents and assessments, which confirmed Jack’s disability and the degree to which it impacts on his daily functioning.

I didn’t know what to expect from our planning meeting, or what to ask for in terms of supports.

I naively took a hastily drawn-up wish list to our first planning meeting.

During that meeting the planner told me that, under the NDIS, we would have complete choice and control over what supports Jack received and which Service Providers we could choose. He suggested that I go away, work out what our goals and aspirations were, get some firm quotes and come back again.

The concept of ‘goals and aspirations’ and ‘choice and control’ was a bit of an epiphany for me, so I went away and had a good think, spoke to many different Service Providers, got lots of quotes and invoices and prepared for the next meeting.

One lovely service provider showed me the NDIS Price Guide. It was only by looking over all the different support categories that I could see the enormous scope of the NDIS and where Jack’s support needs might sit within the scheme.



Second Planning Meeting

By the second planning meeting I had a much better idea of what to ask for and what the scheme might fund in terms of reasonable and necessary supports.

Jack’s plan was established and we made the choice to self-manage his NDIS plan. That means that we have a dedicated bank account and we pay for his supports and claim the cost directly from the NDIA. We can use both registered and unregistered service providers.


What are your family’s current goals?

  • To increase skills for independent living
  • To make more social connections
  • To learn how to use technology
  • To be more fit and healthy
  • To continue to improve communication skills


What sort of supports did you ask for?

We asked for LOTS of different things in his first plan including: ABA therapy, speech therapy, social groups, swimming lessons, bowling, dancing, transport, technology, parent training, overnight respite and specialist after school care so that I could return to work.

Some were within the scope of the scheme and some weren’t. Some exceeded the dollar limit that our planner could approve.


What supports were granted?

In his latest plan (which is a 2 year plan) we have:

Category 1.01 Assistance with Daily Living

Category 1.04 Assistance with Social and Community Participation

Category 2.05 Assistive Technology

Category 3.07 Coordination of Supports

Category 3.15 Improved Daily Living Skills

Jack dishes

Jack has learned to unload the dishwasher and put all the dishes away.


Are there other supports you wish you had in place now?  

I am happy with Jack’s latest plan. We could always do with more funded supports, but if we budget carefully, then it should last the year.


How do you think being in a trial site will prove to be different from being in the rolled out NDIS?

Trial sites were exactly that – a trial. Things were constantly changing during the trial. I have heard that the full scheme will be very different. For starters, there will be 460,000 people in the full scheme when it is fully implemented!


Your top tips for other families?

  • Don’t go in unprepared
  • Don’t go to meetings alone
  • Read/listen to everything about the NDIS that you can (webinars, factsheets etc)
  • Go to any NDIS Information Sessions you can
  • Ask questions
  • Call the help line
  • Speak to other participants/families
  • Join a NDIS participant facebook group
  • Follow good Facebook pages like The Growing Space and InCharge
  • Learn the language: choice and control, goals and aspirations, reasonable and necessary, self-direction, self-management, service providers, support workers, support categories.



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