How can the NDIS help my child?

Current statistics and data show that approximately 20 per cent of Australian people are diagnosed with a permanent disability or medical illness that results in significant impact on their daily life and engagement in their social, family, personal and occupational obligations. Under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), people 65 years old and below have another avenue to receive supports and services such as support workers and allied health therapists. The scheme also covers funding for equipment and technology devices that enhance a person’s functioning.

Children with a serious and chronic medical condition are enveloped in the scheme and commonly engage in services such as support workers to help them with their basic self-care requirements, therapies with occupational therapists, psychologists and physiotherapists, and can get funding for the purchase of necessary equipment such as a wheelchair or hearing aids.

How do I get psychology treatment through the NDIS for my child?

The first step to becoming an NDIS participant is to visit the official NDIS website and learn about what their requirements are to avail of the program. Essentially, prospective participants must prove their disability and its effect on their life. This generally includes providing documented evidence such as reports or letters from doctors and other health professionals. If your child’s major difficulties require psychology input, often reports and support letters from your child’s GP, psychiatrist or psychologist are needed.
Staff from the NDIS will also want to visit you and your child at home to better gauge how your child’s condition is affecting his/her capacity to live an independent and meaningful life. The purpose of this meeting is also to learn about the goals for your child, and what the funding will be intended for. The NDIS assessor will make decisions regarding how much funding will be allocated, as well as what areas funding will be dispersed to. This will all depend on the severity of your child’s condition and where and how the NDIS will be able to meet their unique needs. If your child is to receive some NDIS funding, plan periods are usually for 1-year duration, and you will be assigned to an NDIS coordinator. This can be your primary contact person at the NDIS and they will guide you through the process.

How can psychology help my child?

Psychology treatment through the NDIS can benefit your child in many ways. A psychologist is a trained health worker with a university-level education, and many psychologists proceed to do extra study. At its most base, psychology is the study of the human mind. Psychologists focus on learning about the function and capacity of the human mind and the intertwined process of thoughts, emotions and behaviour, and how these all affect one another.

Psychology can help children with a variety of difficulties. Children with intellectual disabilities (or developmental delays), developmental disorders (such as Autism Spectrum Disorder) emotional dysregulation problems, (burgeoning) mental illness, or behavioural issues may be involved in psychological treatment. Psychology treatment through the NDIS can help a child better manage emotions such as anger, poor impulse control or self-harm thoughts and behaviours. Psychologists aim to assist people to talk through their hardships and issues in their life, which generally involves taking a closer look at their emotions, feelings, thoughts and behaviours. A psychologist’s role is not to instruct people on how to live their life, but to help them to better manage their difficulties and reduce unhealthy behaviours. As children by nature are still immature and often do not have the capacity to understand and/or express their emotions or behaviours, it is often imperative for the child’s parents or primary carer(s) to involved in therapy. For children with significant intellectual disabilities or severe communication problems, parents/carers play a more pivotal role, and indeed, therapy is often focused on building the skills of parents/carers to more ably deal with their child’s challenging behaviours.

What does psychology treatment through the NDIS involve?

After your child has confirmed funding for the appropriate NDIS category for psychology, you will need to look for a psychology service. One of the core beliefs of the NDIS is that the client should have the choice and power to use their funding and engage services as they see fit. Once you have selected a service that you want to engage with, you will usually be asked to sign the organisation’s Service Agreement. This is essentially a contract between you and the service, and outlines what the service will do for your child.

The first session with the psychologist generally involves the psychologist asking questions about your child’s history, such as overall development throughout childhood, family and medical history, and social and education networks. Any previous reports from doctors, psychologists or other allied health professionals may also be useful to gain a more thorough understanding of the child’s needs. It may also be beneficial for the psychologist to complete a standardised assessment (for instance a cognitive assessment) on the child, as this allows the psychologist to compare the child to other children in their age group. The psychologist, child and their family will then foster goals for therapy, guided by the child’s most pressing issues and immediate needs.