Did you know: The prevalence of Autism in Australia has risen from 1 in 100 to 1 in 70 people. So, does this mean Autism is on the rise in Australia?
Not necessarily – find out why, and how NDIS funding can be used to help adults with ASD.
What is Autism?
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a diagnosis that refers to a broad range of symptoms that can impact an individual across any range of daily life activities including communication, social interactions, thinking and behaviour.
The word spectrum is used to reflect the range of presentation in symptoms across individuals. ASD is a lifelong developmental condition that presents with challenges and abilities where no two individuals with ASD are the same.
Although some people think children are primarily affected by autism, adults on the spectrum can face significant challenges in everyday life.
Why is Autism on the rise?
Although the prevalence of Autism has increased, it may not mean more people are being impacted by ASD but instead reflects the increased awareness of symptoms and development of more robust screening tools. This is a positive, as research has indicated that early diagnosis and intervention can show promising outcomes for children with ASD and family members.
Diagnosis in adults is not uncommon and can allow acceptance and understanding of an individual’s difficulties and strengths. Many adults report a sense of relief following a later diagnosis of ASD.
How is Autism diagnosed?
Regardless of age, there is a process to determine whether an individual may have ASD. Diagnostic assessments are conducted by specialist health professionals. According to NDIS, this diagnosis must be made by “…a specialist multi-disciplinary team, paediatrician, psychiatrist or clinical psychologist experienced in the assessment of Pervasive Developmental Disorders and assessed using the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V)”.
The first step towards seeking a diagnosis should be to talk with your GP.
How does Autism affect adults?
Adults living with ASD can face several challenges in everyday life. This can be due to personal, environmental and societal difficulties. Adults with ASD who have difficulty with social relationships can struggle with employment and friendship, finding romantic relationships, reaching independence with daily life and finding a community to connect with.
What supports can an adult with Autism access under NDIS?
Recent studies have found that a successful transition to adulthood can be made through parents teaching their child daily living skills such as personal hygiene, domestic duties, public transport travel training, cooking, shopping and money handling. Further the employment prospects of young people with ASD were improved in those with greater independence in daily life within 10 years after leaving high school.
Who can assist with ASD under NDIS?
Smart Solutions Rehab Group (SSRG) are currently accepting referrals for people aged 16 and over who are looking to access or obtain support under an NDIS plan. SSRG are registered to provide the following services:
- NDIS access reports
- Assistive Technology (including low risk equipment prescription)
- Functional Capacity Assessment
- SIL and SDA reporting
- Complex Home Modifications
- Therapy (…further details noted below)
- Plan review reporting
What Therapy can assist with ASD under NDIS?
Therapy for adults with ASD can help individuals and their parents or caregivers in developing the skills listed above. This can be done through careful assessment of the individual’s ability to perform specific tasks and identification of areas of improvement to work towards independence. Targeted therapy plans can improve component skills while addressing social interactions and creating a sense of achievement through facilitated successes.
SSRG is looking to bring in social group classes for adults with ASD in the near future. Sign up to our newsletter for updates
Adults with ASD can demonstrate a broad range of difficulties with communication. Some people may have problems with auditory processing and attention skills that make it difficult for them to understand and interpret what others are saying. Others may find it difficult to put their thoughts into words or speak clearly enough to be understood.
The Speech Pathologist (SP) can work with adults with ASD to identify the areas in which their communication is successful and to develop a plan to improve their communication function in other areas. For example, an adult with ASD may be very good at commenting, repeating and describing but still find it difficult to ask for information or the person may never have had a chance to develop a full vocabulary because of their lifelong difficulty with communication.
Sometimes the person may find it difficult to speak clearly and the SP can work directly on improving speech clarity but also advise on methods of alternative and augmentative communication that will help with getting their message across. As well as helping adults with ASD, adults with communication impairment and speech, the SP can also assist with any other concerns with eating, drinking and swallowing.
Therapy for adults with ASD can help individuals increase their mobility, strength, endurance and co-ordination. This can include exercises to be done at home, hydrotherapy and even at the gym.
Need to know more?
If you are needing assistance with accessing supports for ASD in adults under NDIS, our experienced Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Speech Pathologists are here to help. Contact us today to discuss your needs via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call us on 1300 729 190 and we will be happy to help!
Authors: Donna Joosten and Cindy Dilworth
More about the authors…
Donna is an Occupational Therapist and Manager of SSRG’s Occupational Therapy Team. Donna has worked extensively with neurological rehabilitation, particularly movement disorders and has completed training in physical and cognitive rehabilitation. Donna holds a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy as well as qualifications in Business and Music.
Cindy is a Speech-Language Pathologists working alongside the SSRG Clinical Team. Amongst other professional appointments, Cindy has assisted in developing the NSF Rehabilitation and Recovery Guidelines, is on the Committee’s for QLD State-wide Stroke Clinical Network and QLD Older Persons Health Network, and is a Speech Pathology Australia representative on the Rehabilitation Working Party, Stroke Coalition. Cindy holds a Bachelor of Speech Therapy and a Masters of Speech Pathology by Clinical Speciality.