Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Autism?
  • What is Aspergers Disorder?
  • What is Global Developmental Delay?
  • What is an Intellectual Disability?
  • What are Emotional and Behavioural Disorders?
  • What are Speech and Language Disorders?
  • Fees and rebates?

What is Autism?

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). People with ASD experience difficulty with social and communication skills. They may also have problems with learning, paying attention and making eye contact. They tend to display ritualistic or repetitive behaviour and often struggle with sensory stimulation, such as noise, strong wind and crowds. ASD lasts throughout a person’s lifetime and to date its cause is relatively unknown. Currently, 1 in 160 individuals are diagnosed with autism in Australia and it is more prominent in males.

What is Asperger’s Disorder?

Aspergers Disorder is part of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) but regarded as high functioning autism. Typically children with Asperger’s Disorder have difficulty with social interaction, struggle to understand social cues and have ritualistic behaviour. However, they may have highly developed language skills and can communicate at great length about their favourite topics, giving them such nicknames as “little professor”.

What is Global Developmental Delay?

Global Developmental Delay is a general term used to describe a child who is slower to reach milestones than other children. Delay may occur in the child’s motor skills, communication, cognitive, learning or social skills. Often the term is only used until the cause of the delay is identified. A delay can be transient (temporary) or persistent (permanent).

What is an Intellectual Disability?

An Intellectual disability is when a child has reduced capacity to think and learn new skills. A child is considered to have an intellectual disability when their scores on a cognitive assessment are 70 or below. Intellectual disability can occur when a child has abnormal chromosomes, born prematurely, severely malnourished, a brain injury or structural problems with the brain. It can be caused by infection or drug and alcohol abuse by a child’s mother during pregnancy. However, for many children, especially those with mild intellectual disability, no cause is found. The degree of intellectual disability varies greatly from child to child. In general, the milder the disability, the later it is detected.

What are Emotional and Behavioural Disorders?

An Emotional and Behavioural Disorder (EBD) in children is typically characterised by one or more of the following:

1. Inability to build or maintain interpersonal relationships with carers and peers.

2. Inability or difficulty to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors.

3. Consistent or chronic inappropriate type of behaviour or feelings under normal circumstances.

4. Displayed pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression.

5. Displayed tendency to develop physical symptoms, pains or unreasonable fears associated with personal or school     problems.

The child’s difficulty is often emotionally based and cannot be adequately explained by intellectual, cultural, sensory or general health factors, which may cause inappropriate or aggressive behaviour.

What are Speech and Language Disorders?

A speech disorder is different from a language delay:

  • Children with speech disorders may have good language skills, meaning they use and understand words well. But they may have difficulty pronouncing the sounds in words, making their speech difficult to understand.
  • Children with language delays often only have few words in their vocabulary for a child their age or they might not seem to understand what you say.

Fees & Rebates

Money & Funding

A good knowledge of all the available financial entitlements can enable parents and professionals to make informed decisions about intervention and service options for a child, as well as reduce financial costs.

In this section you will find information on:

  • Medicare
  • Helping Children with Autism (HCWA)
  • CentreLink
  • Nappies and Continence Aids
  • Tax and Financial Planning
  • Disabled Parking Permits
  • ECIS Flexible Support Package


GP Management Plan (also known as Enhanced Primary Care Plans)

Your GP will prepare your child’s Management Plan. Your GP can refer you to any psychologists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists or physiotherapist require for your child. The referral entitles you to five consultations in a 12-month period at a reduced rate. Medicare pays a rebate, more if the Medicare Safety Net Threshold has been reached. Find out more about Medicare Safety Net Threshold here http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/public/services/msn/index.jsp

Better Outcomes for Mental Health (BOHM) referrals

GPs prepare BOHM plans to refer patient for psychological services. These may be individual sessions and/or group psychological services. Generally the plan includes referral for six services, and after follow up can be extended to 12 claimable visits. In exceptional circumstances this may be extended for another six services. Medicare pays a rebate for individual and group services, more if the Medicare Safety Net Threshold has been reached.

Helping Children with Autism Referrals

These referrals are specifically for the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Medicare pays a rebate for psychologist services, speech pathologist and occupational therapist services, more if the Medicare Safety Net Threshold has been reached.

Medicare Safety Net

The Medicare Safety Net provides financial assistance for high out-of-pocket costs for out-of-hospital Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) services. Once you meet a Medicare Safety Net threshold you may be eligible for additional Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital MBS services for the rest of the calendar year.

For individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder who hold a Health Care Card from CentreLink, their Medicare Safety Net Threshold is reduced compared to a standard family threshold.

Helping Children with Autism (HCWA) Package

The Helping Children with Autism package in a Federal Government program that includes:

  • Autism Early Intervention (AEI) funding of $12,000 per child ($6,000 per financial year for 2 years up to the age of 7 years)
  • An additional $2000 payment for regional and remote families
  • Autism Advisors to assist with accessing AEI funding and services
  • Early Days Workshops for families with newly diagnosed children
  • PlayConnect Playgroups
  • An online autism training course: www.autismtraining.com.au

Find out more information about the Helping Children with Autism package athttp://www.autismtraining.com.au

To apply for Autism Early Intervention funding ($12,000) contact an Autism Advisor on 1300 424 499 or go to the following link:http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/sa/disability/progserv/people/HelpingChildrenWithAutism/Pages/default.aspx


Carer’s Allowance

Carer’s Allowance is a fortnightly payment to assist carers looking after a child with developmental delays or disabilities. The application needs to be signed by a GP, paediatrician, psychologist or speech pathologist and is not assets tested or means tested. Carers receiving the Carer’s Allowance are also paid a yearly bonus. Contact Centrelink to register for these paymentshttp://www.centrelink.gov.au

Health Care Card

People who are eligible for either a Carer Allowance or Carer Payment can apply for a Health Care Card, which entitles the individual with autism to cheaper PBS medicines, bulk billing and some other concessions. Many venues will offer free entry to carer’s accompanying Health Care Card holders. Some utility companies may offer discounts or rebates to holders of Health Care cards.


Nappies and Continence Aids

The Continence Aids Payment Scheme provides payments to assist eligible people with the cost of continence aids, such as nappies for children over the age of five years who are not independently toilet trained. For more information go to www.bladderbowel.com or call 1800 33 00 66.

Care Connect is community based service that assists families with continence issues. For further information go to http://www.careconnect.org.au or call 1800 116 166.

  Tax and Financial Planning

Medical Expenses Tax Rebate, Interpretative Decisions and Private Rulings

The Net Medical Expense Tax Rebate allows taxpayers to claim a 20% rebate on their out of pocket medical expenses over $2,000. Find out more on the ATO/s website:


The ATO website also provides information of previous interpretive decisions and private rulings which illustrate that therapeutic treatment of autism can be a deductible medical expense. Find our more information about what therapies can be claimed in your tax return.

Special Disability Trusts and Family Trusts

Trusts may be a way to distribute income and assets to provide for a relative with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Find out more about autism and trusts.

Disabled Parking Permits

To apply for a Disabled Parking Permit, you will need to obtain an application from your city council. Your GP will need to sign the application form. Most states and city councils acknowledge that individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are eligible as they have a tendency to abscond (run away) or the inability to understand or obey road safety rules.

ECIS Flexible Support Package

Early Childhood Intervention Services (ECIS) provide a variety of specialist supports to families with children with a disability or developmental delay from birth until school entry who require a range of additional services and supports not usually available through community services.

ECIS Flexible Support Packages are specifically designed to provide time-limited, individualised support to address a specific need(s) unable to be fully met by ECIS. Families with children eligible for ECIS may apply for an ECIS Flexible Support Package. On Track Services are able to assist families with this.