Providing Better Support for Children with Autism and Developmental Delay

The latest Dialogue Paper from actuaries Maathu Ranjan and Anthony Lowe explores the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) within the context of support for children with autism and developmental delay. 

The Paper, Providing better support for children with autism and developmental delay, outlines three measures for consideration by the NDIS Independent Review Panel ahead of its final findings in October.  

In brief: 

  • Over the past ten years, the NDIS has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australians living with disabilities – there is much to be proud of.
  • However, the reality of the current Scheme is very different to the original vision. In large part, this is because the Scheme was envisioned and legislated based on the social model of disability but has been implemented using the medical model.
  • One of the fastest growing cohorts of participants is children, particularly children with autism and developmental delay. The system gives families little choice but to seek out formal medical diagnoses, resulting in considerable diagnostic waitlists and the prevention of timely access to early interventions which evidence shows are most effective.
  • There are now over 313,000 participants under the age of 18 in the NDIS, accounting for more than half the Scheme population and a fifth of Scheme costs. 75% of these children have a primary disability of autism or developmental delay.
  • The Independent Review of the NDIS presents an opportunity to implement a social model of disability which would better support children and help make the NDIS financially sustainable by restoring specialist support in everyday settings and ensuring the support it provides is delivered in the most effective way. 

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"We see these changes as win-win-win. It will mean better outcomes for children and families, more effective government spending to achieve a sustainable NDIS, and an essential step towards a society that is more aware and actively inclusive of the needs of neurodiverse people, including those with autism."
Maathu Ranjan, lead author of
Providing better support for children with autism and development delay

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