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What is Autism?

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a diagnosis that refers to a broad range of symptoms that can impact an individual across any range of daily life activities including communication, social interactions, thinking and behaviour. This diversity is why we refer to Autism in terms of a spectrum. Every person with ASD is unique, and presents with a range of challenges and abilities not necessarily shared by anyone else. There is a common misconception that Autism primarily affects children, however ASD is a lifelong developmental condition, with many individuals being diagnosed later in life, and facing continuing challenges well into adulthood.

Is Autism on the rise?

The prevalence of Autism diagnosis in Australia has increased from one in 100 in 2014 to one in 70 people. This has led many people to ask if Autism is on the rise. However, an increase in ASD diagnoses does not mean that rates of Autism are increasing, more likely this increase reflects a positive trend in awareness of the symptoms and the development of more comprehensive diagnostic criteria.

As public awareness about Autism grows, we are seeing an increase in early diagnosis and intervention, which is important as this increases the likelihood of positive outcomes for children and their carers. Increased awareness also means a greater number of adults are now being diagnosed with ASD. This is equally important as it facilitates an improved understanding and appreciation of both the difficulties faced by and the potential contributions and strengths of adults diagnosed with ASD. Further, a later diagnosis can help an individual with ASD to better understand their own unique needs, with many reporting feelings of relief following their diagnosis.

How is Autism diagnosed?

In 2019, Australia adopted the use of standardised guidelines for diagnosing ASD.  Diagnostic assessments are conducted by specialist health professionals incorporating a multi-disciplinary team with specific experience in the assessment of pervasive developmental disorders. The newly adopted guidelines outline a framework for assessing behaviour in accordance with the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), while taking into account individual differences relating to sex, age, culture and cognitive ability. For individuals seeking a diagnosis, the process begins with your GP.

How does Autism affect adults?

Adults living with ASD can face several challenges in everyday life.  This can be due to personal, environmental and societal difficulties.  Adults with ASD who have difficulty with social relationships can struggle with employment and friendship, finding romantic relationships, reaching independence with daily life and finding a community to connect with.

What supports can an adult with Autism access under NDIS?

Recent studies have found that a successful transition to adulthood can be made through parents teaching their child daily living skills such as personal hygiene, domestic duties, public transport travel training, cooking, shopping and money handling.  Further the employment prospects of young people with ASD were improved in those with greater independence in daily life within 10 years after leaving high school.

Who can assist with ASD under NDIS?

Smart Solutions Rehab Group (SSRG) are currently accepting referrals for people aged 16 and over who are looking to access or obtain support under an NDIS plan.  SSRG are registered with the NDIS to provide the following services:

What Therapy can assist with ASD under NDIS?

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy for adults with ASD can help individuals and their support network in developing a range of daily living skills.  An Occupational Therapist will undertake a thorough assessment of the individual’s ability to perform specific tasks and identify particular areas of improvement, working with the person towards increased independence and other important goals.  Targeted therapy plans can improve component skills while addressing social interactions and creating a sense of achievement through facilitated successes.

Speech Pathology

Adults with ASD can demonstrate a broad range of difficulties with communication which can be improved through Speech Pathology. For example, some people may experience difficulty with auditory processing,  attention skills, translating thoughts into words, or speaking clearly enough to be understood, all of which make communicating with others more complicated. 

A Speech Pathologist (SP) can work with adults with ASD to identify both the successful and more problematic areas of their communication abilities, and develop a therapy plan accordingly.  For example, an adult with ASD may be very good at commenting, repeating and describing but find asking questions difficult. Speech Pathologists can also advise on specific methods of alternative and augmentative communication that can support a person in their daily living. In addition to communication difficulties, Speech Pathologists can assist with any other concerns around eating, drinking and swallowing.


Physiotherapy for adults with ASD can help individuals increase their mobility, strength, endurance and co-ordination.  A Physiotherapist might include exercises to be done at home, hydrotherapy and even at the gym.

Need to know more?

If you are needing assistance with accessing supports for ASD in adults under the NDIS, our experienced multi-disciplinary team of clinicians are here to help.  Contact us today to discuss your needs via email at or you can call us on 1300 729 190 and we will be happy to help.

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