NDIS Child Therapy Services
What are child therapy services?
Sometimes, children display signs that they have difficulties or developing slowly in certain areas as would normally be expected for their age. For example, a child’s parents may be concerned that the child is not talking at the rate of his or her peers, or that a child does not play or show interest in playing with other children. In such situations, parents can access services that specialise in helping families with these concerns and may help in the assessment and diagnosis of any disability or medical condition, as well as provide appropriate supports and services to improve the child’s functioning and outcomes.
Does my child need therapy?
It is important to highlight that children are individuals and can vary greatly in terms of their development. Nevertheless, there are often developmental milestones that children normally reach by a certain age (e.g. babies usually start to walk before 12 months old), and any significant delay in hitting these milestones may be indicative of a bigger issue. Common situations that cause concern in a child’s parents or caregivers often include delays or difficulties with:
- Play behaviour
- Verbal and non-verbal communication
What should I do if I am worried about my child?
If you think that your child is not progressing in a conventional manner, it is advisable to first consult your Paediatrician or GP. From there, your doctor will be able to make any appropriate diagnosis (if a medical condition is present) or refer your child to attend tests or other assessments they feel is indicated. Moreover, your doctor might recommend your child to attend specific therapies to address and improve the areas of concern.
What kind of therapies are available?
There are a wide range of child therapy services available that generally aim to increase a child’s independence, promote their ongoing development and support their parents and families to better support the child. Common therapies include occupational therapy (OT), speech therapy, physiotherapy and psychology. These therapies all have different focuses and target specific skills, and a child may need more than one type of support. For instance, speech therapy assists a child to improve their communication and language skills, while OT may target a child’s social and fine motor skills.
- Speech therapy: Helps children improve verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Speech therapy can help children with difficulties in areas of fluency, receptive and expressive language, dysarthria or cognitive-communication disorders.
- Psychology: Helps children deal with behavioural issues, managing anxiety and mood-related difficulties, dealing with grief, loss or trauma, and improving relationships.
- Occupational therapy: Helps children become more functionally independent in all areas of life and daily living, such as basic self-care (dressing, toileting, feeding), social skills, educational or vocational aspirations, leisure activities and interests. In children with physical injuries or disabilities, OT often also prescribes suitable assistive technology or equipment to heighten their independence.
How much does therapy cost?
With the application of the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) in the last few years, children with serious and chronic medical conditions and disability may have funding approval to utilise child therapy services across the country. Approved applicants for NDIS funding would then not have to pay out of pocket for their therapy. The NDIS charge for therapy can be found in the most current NDIS Price Guide.
For children without approved NDIS funding, some limited options are available under Medicare (such as mental health care plans through GPs). Further, all child therapy services may be accessed and available to any child, with many services offering lower rates than those accessing through the NDIS.
How do I refer my child to a child therapy service?
Commonly, your GP or Paediatrician may refer you to a relevant service in your area. NDIS participants also have access to a service provider list which may be found on the NDIS website. Often, conducting an online search will produce a list of child therapy services near you, where you can then contact the service directly to get more information.
My son’s OT comes every week to help him improve his fine motor skills.”
“My therapist helps me with using public transport by myself, so that I can see my friends and go out more.”
My daughter’s therapist helps her with her hygiene and daily activities.”