By convenor |
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The proportion of young children (age 0 to 6 years) diagnosed with autism in the NDIS has declined significantly since the full roll-out of the NDIS. The following chart shows the proportion of children in the NDIS with different types of "primary disability" according to data published by the NDIS on their website. 

graph showing Developmental delay, Global developmental delay, Autism and Intellectual Disability from 2019 to 2023. Autism drops from 35.6% to 19.9%, GDD rises from 9.5% to 11.2%, ID drops from 7.5% to 2.1% and DD rises from 29.5% to 59.2%.

Developmental delay is a description that the NDIS Act 2013 defines in Section 9. It is for children 0 to 6 years of age.

These data clearly contradict the message of the "rogue actuary" that increasing autism numbers in early childhood are due to the NDIS. 

The Scheme Actuary provided information showing that most children who enter with developmental delay and remain after age 6 years are diagnosed with "autism". 

Most experts (on autism) advise that autistic children need early intervention for their autism to start as early as possible to achieve best outcomes. Best outcomes benefit everyone, not just the autistic child. Best outcomes help the sustainability of the NDIS.

This means that the NDIS does not fund early intervention for their autism.

The NDIS has yet to appreciate that autistic children need early intervention for their autism, not generic early intervention or intervention that is typically provided for children with DD, GDD or ID.

Further, autistic children present with a wide variety (a spectrum) of needs which means their is no typical approach needed for autistic children. Before the DSM-5, no one thought that children with Autistic Disorder needed the same early intervention as children with Asperger's disorder. And the evidence based for PDD-NOS was less researched. It make no sense now to assume that suddenly the needs of severely autistic children are the same as children who would previously have been described as "Asperger's", yet this is the approach NDIS planners take. 

The NDIS needs to improve services and supports for autistic children. They need to listen to the autism sector instead of getting their advice on autism from others with no knowledge or experience of autism.