At Very Helpful Chats, we provide neurodiversity-affirming capacity-building support for clients with NDIS plans. We specialise in working with self and plan-managed NDIS participants to ensure they receive the support they need to reach their plan goals
Neurodiversity-affirming means that we understand ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia and other neurodivergence to be natural differences in human development. We do not treat Autistic people, ADHDers or Dyslexic people as though they have 'disorders', 'deficiencies' or 'conditions' that require 'treatment' or 'management'.
Beginners Guide to Applying for the NDIS
When it comes to National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding, there are several steps involved to ensure that eligible people are able to access this funding and receive appropriate services to meet their disability-related needs.
The first step in the NDIS application process is the submission of an Access Request to the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA). The Access Request includes an application form and supporting documentation from a health professional. This information is essential for the NDIA to assess whether you meet the NDIS rules related to disability, residency, and age requirements.
For our Autistic clients or those with psychosocial (mental health) disabilities who are eligible to become NDIS participants, we offer Access Request Reports and Assessments. This assessment allows you to provide evidence of your disability and demonstrate your need for disability services throughout your lifetime. You can see further information about our Access request assessments on our assessments page.
Local Area Coordinators
Once access requirements are met, the person (known as the participant in NDIS language) can create their NDIS Plan with the assistance of an NDIS-appointed Local Area Coordinator (abbreviated to LAC). The Local Area Coordinator might be someone employed directly by the NDIA, or they might be employed by a non-government agency that the NDIA to provide this service.
The planning meeting
The next step is to develop the NDIS Plan. This involves the participant meeting with their allocated Local Area Coordinator to identify their disability needs and goals. Very Helpful Chats recommends taking a support person to the planning meeting so they can assist you in recalling and communicating the necessary information to the Local Area Coordinator and helping you advocate for what you need.
Take a support person with you.
We recommend taking a support person with you even if you think you have strong verbal communication skills. As Autistic people, we sometimes (or often?!) do not pick up on the subtext or intent behind a question. Unfortunately, we are not aware of the NDIS (or its contracted agencies) employing Autistic staff or even providing much training for neurotypical staff in communicating with Autistic people.
Subtext is hard to spot!
For example, the question, 'Did you do any further study after high school?" is not actually asking whether you have ever enrolled in and attempted a post-school course. What this question is really asking is, "Were you able to effectively participate in an educational or vocational course and follow it through to completion?". This might be a subtle difference; however, Local Area Coordinators may not ask you any follow-up questions and just document that you were able to participate in higher education. For our clients who may have enrolled in a course but found it so hard they only lasted a few weeks or months before dropping out, answering the question, "Did you do any further study after high school?" with a simple "yes" response may suggest to the NDIS that you have a higher level of capacity and a lower level of disability supports needs than you do.
This question is just one example - NDIS planning meetings contain dozens of questions where the intent or context of the question is not directly stated or obvious to Autistic people. If you attend the planning meeting alone, you may miss subtexts like this, leading to the NDIS incorrectly assessing your support needs and giving you a lower level of funding than you need to meet your needs.
Decisions on funding
When deciding on funding, the NDIS appears to consider the verbal report of what the participant said during the planning meeting and, in turn, the Local Area Coordinator's opinion on what the participant said as more significant than any report or document written by a health professional. This is why we recommend always taking a support person with you! For our existing clients who have an upcoming planning meeting, we can attend the planning meeting with you if there is no one in your life who can perform this role. This is a paid service we offer to our clients to ensure the NDIS can effectively communicate with you. Unfortunately, we cannot provide this service to new clients.
NDIS plan approved
Once the NDIS Plan is approved, it is time to implement it. This involves implementing the supports and services outlined in the plan. At Very Helpful Chats, we provide ongoing occupational therapy and psychology services to our clients to meet their plan goals.