We will help to ‘demystify’ the system and reduce some of the stress and anxiety.
Autism Support exists in a number of forms, Spectrum Clarity will assist you in developing a plan to help you through the process of getting the right help and financial assistance through Government funded programs.
Below we touch on three programs or funding channels designed to help parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism support as mentioned takes on many forms from financial to educational support. Spectrum Clarity exists to help you through the process of obtaining the funding and help you are entitled to.
Our Managing Director Elaine Jackson understands the difficulties facing parents who have just discovered their child or children have Autism. She has been there with her own son. Because of this, Elaine was determined to help other parents through the maze of forms, red tape and acronyms with as little stress as possible. If you need help with Autism support call Spectrum Clarity to speak to our Office Manager on 0418 490 814.
Carer Allowance from Centrelink
If your child has a confirmed ASD diagnosis, you will be entitled to a Carer Allowance from Centrelink. The Carer Allowance is not means tested and you will receive $123.50 per fortnight (as of May 2016). Your child will be issued with a Health Care Card.
Carer Allowance is adjusted on 1 January each year in line with the Consumer Price Index.
Carer Allowance is a non-taxable payment.
At the beginning of each financial year, a lump sum known as a Carer Supplement is paid. This amount is approximately $600.
Spectrum Clarity Access Consultants will assist you complete these forms and navigate the Centrelink service system.
Medicare Helping Children with Autism Program
Under this program, a child can be referred by a consultant paediatrician or psychiatrist for the following allied health services:
- Up to four diagnostic / assessment services from psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, audiologists, optometrists, orthoptists or physiotherapists to assist the referring practitioner with diagnosis or to contribute to a child’s treatment and management plan (for a child under 13 years of age)
- Up to twenty treatment services from psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, audiologists, optometrists, orthoptists or physiotherapists (for a child under 15 years of age, provided a treatment and management plan is in place before their 13th birthday).
Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) Package
To support parents, the Australian Government, provides services for children with an ASD, through funding of $12,000 until the child’s seventh birthday to a maximum of $6,000 per financial year. To use this funding, parents/carers will need to use service providers who are part of the Australian Government’s panel of Early Intervention Service Providers.
The funding can be used to purchase:
- Speech Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Equipment and resources that are integral to the therapy when ordered by an approved provider (only 35% of the funding can be used towards equipment).
What is Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)?
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are neurodevelopment disorders which cause substantial impairments in social interaction and communication. There are associated repetitive behaviours and unusual interests as well as many people experiencing unusual ways of learning, paying attention and/or reacting to different sensations.
What can autism look like for someone?
- Challenges with communicating and interacting with others.
- Repetitive and different behaviours, moving their bodies in different ways.
- Strong interest in one topic or subject.
- Unusual reactions to what they see, hear, smell, touch or taste.
- Preference for routines and dislike of change.
- Autism can affect the way that individuals interact with others and how they experience the world around them.
Autism Victoria (AMAZE) provides a good overview and Spectrum Clarity would refer you to their website. However, a summary is as follows:
- Every individual on the Autism Spectrum is different – no two are alike.
- Secondary conditions and difficulties are associated with autism. This may include speech and language difficulties, intellectual disability, sleep problems, attention problems, epilepsy, anxiety and depression, difficulties with fine and gross motor skills.
- Some individuals on the autism spectrum may feel as if they are bombarded with sensations. They might have a preference for visual learning and may learn in different ways to others. Some might have challenges with social communication, meaning that they miss nuances and jokes, and make literal interpretations of what is being said. Some individuals may be able to live independent lives while others will always need assistance and support.
The DSM–5 is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) that is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The DSM-5 is used to diagnose mental and behavioural conditions, including Autism Spectrum Disorder. The DSM-5 has removed the formal diagnoses of Asperger Disorder (Asperger Syndrome) and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).
The DSM-5 text states “Individuals with a well-established DSM-IV diagnoses of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder”.
The diagnosis under the DSM-5 requires a child to have difficulties in two areas to receive to a formal diagnosis. The two areas are:
1) persistent social communication and social interaction, and
2) restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior.
More specifically, people with ASD must demonstrate (either in the past or in the present) deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, and deficits in developing maintaining and understanding relationships. In addition, they must show at least two types of repetitive patterns of behavior including stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, insistence on sameness or inflexible adherence to routines, highly restricted, fixated interests or hyper or hyper reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment.
Under the new DSM-5, clinicians should also rate the severity of these deficits, with a ranking of level 1, 2 or 3, based what level of support they require. In terms of accessing the NDIS, in the main, the criterion is a level 2 or 3 rating.
If a child has other symptoms that meet the criteria for other disorders, the child will be diagnosed as having two or more disorders – for example, ASD and ADHD. This technically wasn’t possible with the DSM-IV, although many professionals did diagnose other disorders along with ASD.
At Spectrum Clarity, our Social Workers will help you identify whether your child may be exhibiting any of the above issues that would warrant undertaking a full diagnostic assessment. We will help you to identify a Paediatrician, who is the key person in this phase, as well as the other key professionals such as a Psychologist or Speech Therapist.
If your child has already received a diagnosis, Spectrum Clarity’s Social Workers will help you to access eligible financial supports via Centrelink, Medicare and, where relevant, the Helping Children with Autism Package. Where the National Disability Insurance Scheme has rolled out, we can assist with access, planning support and possible, ongoing purchasing of supports as we are a Registered NDIS Provider for Support Coordination.