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Is autism a disability covered by the NDIS?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD/autism) affects how a person communicates, interacts with others, and experiences the world.

Date posted: Author: Christine Hawkett, Plan Manager

It’s a lifelong and complex neurodivergence that looks different from person to person. Because of this variability, NDIS support for ASD is shrouded in mystery. In this article, we’ll take a look at ASD in the context of the NDIS.

Is autism a disability in the eyes of the NDIS?

Yes, the NDIS recognises autism as a permanent disability.

However, a diagnosis of autism does not guarantee NDIS support. That is to say, presence of the condition is less important than its impact.

Key factors in NDIS assessment for autism

When the NDIS receive an access request from a person living with autism, they look at how much the condition affects them. It’s important that your request demonstrates impact in the following areas.


The extent to which the autism affects the person’s ability to communicate is an important consideration. Of course, autism can affect both verbal and non-verbal communication in a range of ways. Depending on severity, these challenges may be eligible for NDIS support.

Social interaction

Autism can affect a person’s social skills beyond communication; it can also affect a person’s ability to build relationships, read social cues, or have two-way interactions. As you can imagine, these kinds of difficulties can lead to loneliness and poor mental health. The NDIS may provide support to help a person better navigate social interactions.


Learning is another area commonly affected by autism. Challenges with information processing, sensory sensitivities, and reading can make learning harder. It can also make otherwise beneficial experiences anxiety-inducing. The NDIS may fund support or technology that will help a person access education or training.


People with autism may have difficulty identifying their own self-care needs. Tasks like bathing, dressing, or eating can appear unimportant. Also, sensory sensitivities may make certain tasks uncomfortable or unbearable, leading to avoidance. Challenges in this area can affect mental and physical health. The NDIS may provide funding to build awareness of self-care needs.


Autism can affect a person’s decision-making and coping skills. It can also impact emotional regulation and cause unhelpful behaviours. Poor self-management means that wellbeing and relationships can be difficult to maintain.

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Importance of evidence

As we mentioned, simply having an autism diagnosis isn't enough to secure NDIS funding. Applicants must provide detailed evidence showcasing how autism functionally impacts their everyday life.

Evidence can include:

  • Assessments from specialists like psychologists, pediatricians, or occupational therapists.
  • Reports from schools, early intervention programs, or other support services.
  • Statements from the individual, family members, or caregivers detailing the challenges they face.

The NDIS decision-making process

Once an application is submitted, the NDIS reviews all available information. From there, they decide if the person meets access requirements.

The NDIS assesses…

  • Whether autism results in significantly reduced functional capacity or not.
  • If the person requires support beyond informal family and community resources.
  • If NDIS funding would deliver the 'reasonable and necessary' supports to the person. Alternative sources of support are considered, such as mainstream healthcare.

The role of early intervention

The NDIS provides lifetime support – in most cases, up until the participant is 65. Children with autism under nine years of age may access the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) scheme. This is a branch of the NDIS that aims to maximise a child's potential while they are still developing.

Understanding autism and the NDIS

If autism significantly impacts your life or that of a loved one, the NDIS is worth exploring.

The NDIS planning process can be really beneficial, even if funding is not approved. It has helped many families identify needs, support services, and other strategies to improve quality of life.

Note: Always refer to the official NDIS website for the latest information.

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