Sensory equipment can play an important role in development for children or adults with a disability or sensory processing disorders.
Here at Leap in! HQ we are often asked whether the NDIS will cover sensory equipment and how to pay for sensory items from your NDIS budget.
Today we are exploring the types of sensory equipment the NDIS may fund, when an assessment may be required and how to buy sensory items online.
Types of sensory equipment.
Sensory equipment is a broad term that can include just about any item that can help a person to develop life skills or motor skills and enrich the five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.
It can include everyday items such as puzzles, specially designed toys or games, tools that support regulation or improve focus and resources that build functional skills. See below for some examples.
Fine motor items:
- Colour matching activities
- Finger puppets and finger isolation kits
- Cutting food activities
- Shoelace tying activities.
Writing and learning aids:
- Pencil grips and pencil toppers
- Spring assisted scissors
- Wrist weights.
Gross motor skill supports:
- Wobble cushions
- Scooter boards
- Swiss balls
- Elliptical jumping balls.
- Fidget toys like squish balls
- Musical items such as maracas and bells
- Massage and acupressure balls and rollers.
Sensory equipment and the NDIS.
With a few exceptions, you can use your NDIS Plan to purchase low cost sensory equipment if you have funding for Assistive Technology or Consumables.
If you have funding in either budget, you can purchase sensory equipment without a quote providing the item:
- Is considered “reasonable and necessary”
- Is related to your disability
- Costs less than $1500
- Is not considered to be “high risk” (see below for details).
Higher cost items such as multi-sensory room kits, wall panels and trampolines may also be purchased with your NDIS funds. For items over $1500, you’ll need to obtain a quote and forward it to the NDIS for approval prior to purchase.
High risk sensory equipment.
The NDIS classifies several items as “high risk”. High risk items are items that may cause harm if they are not the correct or ‘best fit’. This means they cannot be purchased using NDIS funds without prior approval even when they cost less than $1500.
High risk items require an occupational therapy risk assessment or prescription be completed and forwarded to the NDIS with recommendations of why the item is suitable and how it will help you achieve your goals or needs.
If the item is approved, the funds may be allocated as a stated item in your Assistive Technology budget (meaning it can only be used for this item) or approval given for you to use your Core > Consumables funds, depending on the cost.
High risk items include:
- Body socks.
How to purchase sensory items.
The process for purchasing sensory items depends on how you have chosen to manage your NDIS Plan.
If you are Agency managed, you can only purchase from NDIS registered providers and the NDIS will pay your provider directly.
If you self manage, you can purchase the item from the provider of your choice and claim the payment from the NDIS.
If you are plan managed, you can purchase the item from the provider of your choice and your plan manager will pay your provider after receiving an invoice.
Purchasing sensory equipment online.
Sensory equipment can be purchased from an occupational therapist, other therapists, retail stores or online. An extensive range of sensory equipment is available for sale online.
- Ask for recommendations from your family or friends or check reviews prior to purchasing from a new provider, especially if they are online
- If you are Agency managed, check the provider is NDIS registered – some providers are only registered in some states
- If you are Agency managed or plan managed, you may need to complete a service agreement prior to purchase (some providers have standard service agreements on their website)
- Check the return and refund policy prior to purchase.