What is the NDIS?
The NDIS is a government initiative that came into effect on 1 July 2013.
The purpose of the NDIS is to assist people with additional needs (and their carers) to develop a personal, goal-based plan about how they will be provided with general supports and reasonable and necessary supports. Most of the children below the age of 7 years, and several that are between 7-14 years of age, that we see for therapy are eligible for NDIS support.
The Early Intervention component, which is being rolled out now, focuses on providing children with as much help as possible while they are young, with the hope of minimising their long-term support needs. The NDIS also wants to help the carers of these children to be able to continue caring for them, and if possible, continue their studies, or return to the workplace.
The NDIS website provides an outline of supports that can be funded (NDIS Supports).
How do I choose a Speech Therapist?
- Experience and expertise: Has the therapist worked with other children with similar difficulties? Does he or she have any additional qualifications in the areas relevant to your child? Does the therapist belong to any special interest groups or associations?
- Does the therapist work alone or with a group of therapists? Providers who have more than one therapist on site have a number of advantages. If the therapist is ill or on holiday, another therapist can continue your child’s therapy. Should the therapist leave the practice or take leave for a long period, your child can continue therapy in a familiar setting. A group setting also provides mentoring for younger therapists, while allowing therapists to support each other in working with complex clients.
- Facilities and resources: Does the provider have facilities appropriate to your child’s level of functioning? This may include a playroom with a wide range of toys for younger children; or a range of table-top activities for older children. Resources should include technology such as computer-based or iPad activities, as well as board games and other interactive activities.
- Frequency of sessions: The frequency of sessions will depend on your goals and the type of therapy involved. In general, for preschoolers with communication difficulties (including speech, language, and social interaction difficulties), research has shown that the most effective therapy involves weekly or twice weekly sessions with a therapist.
- Parent training and home practice: It takes lots of practice to consolidate and generalise any new skill. Therapy will be most effective if new skills are practised at home in between therapy sessions. A good provider will equip parents to work at home with a child, and provide regular homework.
- Teamwork: Children spend the majority of their time outside the therapy room. It is therefore important for your provider to have regular contact with childcare staff, kindy staff, teachers, medical professionals and other allied health providers.
- Does the provider ‘get’ your child? Children with disabilities are complex and each one is unique. A good provider does not try to make your child fit into a box, but will rather consider your family’s unique circumstances and your child’s unique quirks, personality and learning style.
- Does the provide get the ‘big picture’? A good provider takes a holistic, lifelong approach. Does he/she have an idea, not just of what you child needs in the next six months, but what you are working towards in ten or twenty years? Does the provider have an understanding of all your child’s needs in terms of lifelong mental health and independent living as an adult?
- What can I request in my child’s plan?
Some supports that may be helpful to preschool children with communication disorders (depending on their individual needs) include:
- Specialist assessment of skills, abilities and needs (by a Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, etc)
- Speech Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Hearing and communication assessment by an Audiologist
- Assistance with school or education integration
- Transition to school – program design, planning and implementation
- Specialised child care at home
- Assistance with Home Enteral Nutrition and other high cost diet costs
- Specialised transport to school
- Parenting training relating to disability
- Group social skills development
- Individual social skills development
- Dietician consultation and diet plan development
- Behaviour support
- Family group therapy
- Intensive behavioural intervention support
- Training for carers and others in behaviour management strategies.
Before meeting your NDIS planners, it would probably be helpful to have some discussion with therapists and other professionals who know your child well. They can outline their short term and long term goals, and highlight other areas of potential concern that you may have to consider in setting out your goals for your child.
We will need to formulate a Service agreement with each client claiming NDIS funding which specifies how much NDIS funding will be allocated to Speech Pathology at our practice. This is a mandatory requirement of all NDIS funded clients working with our therapists.