As rates of autism diagnoses soar around the world, the tale of two Australian families struggling to pay for expensive early-intervention therapies for their children — one by themselves, the other through government — ¬underscores the divisive cost.
In Sydney, Tina Lopez and her husband, Arron Dickens, are dipping into their savings to pay about $42,000 a year out of their pockets for their son James because a federal program stumps up only $12,000 over two years. In South Australia, whereThe Australian revealed children with autism now made up 46 per cent of the delayed, oversubscribed National Disability Insurance Scheme trial, the Andrews family had to fight to get a $40,000 package from the scheme for son David, 4.
The agency responsible for the $22 billion NDIS is reeling as it comes to grips with the rising numbers of eligible children, engaging in an off-the-books “rationing” of packages lest it risk the scheme’s financial sustainability further down the track.
At the heart of the issue is the fact the former federal government was misled over the numbers in South Australia but the NDIS agency is also struggling to apply a uniform interpretation of what are “reasonable and necessary” supports for children with autism spectrum disorders.