A child and his speech therapist are working together to make lip shapes and sounds.
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04 March 2020

Speech and language therapy: What will the NDIS fund?

Speech and language skills are essential for learning, understanding and communicating.

Challenges with speech and language can make it difficult for some children and adults with a disability to communicate effectively. This can affect their ability to reach their potential.

Today, we’ll explore how the NDIS can help.

About speech and language therapy.

Speech and language therapy is a process that enables people to communicate to the best of their ability. Speech is how we say words whereas language is more about how we use those words to communicate.

A speech therapist (also called a speech pathologist) is an allied health professional who can assist with speech, communication, listening, understanding, social skills and a whole lot more. For details, check out our previous story on Speech therapists: what they do and how they can help you.

Types of things the NDIS can fund.

The NDIS funds supports that are directly connected to your goals so if you want to obtain funding for speech therapy, it is important to include related goals in your NDIS Plan. An example might be:

“I want to learn to communicate better so that I can talk to my friends.”

1. Speech Therapy

If you or your child have a disability that makes communication challenging, you may be able to obtain NDIS funding for a speech therapist. Some of the things that may be covered include:

  • Speech therapy assessment
  • Speech development
  • Identification of specialised aids that can help, and teaching how to use them
  • Improving language and non-verbal communication.

2. Assistive technology

Speech pathologists may use and recommend a variety of aids to help people improve their communication skills. Some of the aids that may be funded by the NDIS include:

  • Low cost assistive technology such as flipbooks, flash cards or picture boards
  • More high tech items such as software, phone apps and speech generating devices.

Different requirements apply for purchasing the two types of assistive technology. For more information, check out our previous article FAQs: The NDIS and assistive technology.

Be aware that the NDIS will only fund supports that are considered ‘reasonable and necessary’ which means they must relate to your disability, be likely to be effective and be good value for money.

Speech and language therapy for children aged 0-6.

If a child is aged 0-6 and has a developmental delay or disability, speech and language therapy support is available through the NDIS Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) approach.

If you have concerns about your child’s development, you can contact an NDIS early childhood partner who will assess if the child is eligible for ECEI. The assessment considers whether the child’s development is at the level expected for their age and, if not, whether it has a significant effect on their ability to perform daily routines and activities.
Example 1

Isabelle’s playgroup teacher notices her speech is not as well developed as that of other children her age. Her mother takes her to an early childhood partner who found that Isabelle’s behaviour, social skills and development were at a level appropriate for her age.

Outcome: Isabelle is not eligible for the NDIS. Instead, support is provided through mainstream services such as a community health centre.

Example 2
Jesse is showing early signs of autism spectrum disorder. His father has noticed he’s having trouble developing language skills and understanding what others say to him. An assessment finds Jesse’s development is behind that of other children his age and his limited social skills are affecting his ability to make friends.

Outcome: Jesse is eligible to apply for the NDIS. The early childhood partner works with Jesse and his family to develop a plan to achieve his goals and helps to connect them to supports such as speech therapy.

Leap in! can help.

If you have any questions, the Leap in! Crew is here to help. Give us a call on 1300 05 78 78 or send an email to crew@leapin.com.au.