HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR NDIS MEETING
BY SAMANTHA YOULDEN
So you’ve gotten the date and time for your first NDIS meeting, congratulations! It’s a step closer to getting the funding that your child needs and deserves.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for the meeting so you can try and get as much funding as possible for your family.
1. Imagine your worst day
The LAC (local area consultant) is going to ask you a LOT of questions, and the advice I was given is to imagine your worst day and answer as if that’s happening. If your child can sometimes use the toilet but is mostly in nappies, then tell them that but emphasise the fact that is indeed a very rare occurrence, that it hasn’t quite ‘clicked’ yet.
2. Have all your paperwork together
This should include something from your paediatrician with your child’s diagnosis on it, and any & all reports from your child’s medical team (speech therapist, occupational therapist, physio, etc). We got a report put together from our speech & occupational therapists for our meeting, it cost around $400 but I would 1000% recommend getting it done. I keep a folder with all of Jackson’s paperwork so nothing gets lost and I know where it all is. I also needed to provide the LAC with my birth certificate and identification documents, so make sure you have all of that ready too in case they ask.
3. Ask your medical team for their opinions
Something I’ve always done and found helpful was asking my son’s medical team (speech and OT mostly) for their opinions, what do they think would be helpful or useful? They might suggest a particular app to help develop speech, or another therapy. They can include that in their report but you can also discuss this with the LAC.
4. Be real
If you feel overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, tell your LAC. This meeting isn’t just about your special needs babe, it’s about your entire family. How are YOU coping? How is your partner coping? How are your other children affected, how are they coping? Give them as much information about yourself and your family as you can, if you think of something after they leave then call/email them and let them know.
5. Look for support groups
Something I found really helpful was asking other parents for their tips and tricks. There are some great support groups for all kinds of non typical children as well as ones for NDIS (NDIS Grassroots, and N.D. NDIS Discussions could be a great starting point for you – both on Facebook).
6. Have a list of goals
You’ll need to write down a list of goals that you’d like your child to work towards for the next 12 months. Try using the SMART method so they are measurable (this will help at your 12 month review). Don’t stress if you can’t think of anything straight away, your LAC will help you. Start with asking yourself “what would help our family function better?” and see what comes to mind. One of Jackson’s goals is to be able to put 4 words together so he can better communicate his needs to those around him.
7. Write a list of everything you could use
I wrote down two full pages of everything we could use or wanted that would make our lives a little easier, anything we could use money for. I asked for respite care (and it was written in one of the reports we had), and although we didn’t get any, I’m glad I asked because if you don’t ask then you can’t receive. Is your child still in nappies? Ask for nappies, wipes, toilet training aids. Is your child delayed in speech? Ask for weekly or bi-weekly speech therapy, for talking aids (iPad, apps, etc – your speech therapist would have an idea of exactly which ones would be good). Although an iPad isn’t covered, you can get separate funding which is something to ask your medical team and LAC about.
8. Ask questions
If you don’t understand something or want further clarification, then ask. Don’t be scared. You don’t get another shot at this for another 12 months, so ask as many questions as you can. Try to understand as much about the system as you can before the LAC leaves, hell even before they get there. Find out the different types of management for the funds and have an idea of which one you’re leaning towards (self managed, agency managed, plan managed, or a combination). Ask what the pros and cons are of each. Get the LAC’s opinion, see what they’ve found from working within the system.
9. Know that you can appeal the plan
If you don’t agree with something in your plan, or the amount you’ve been allocated then you can appeal it. I haven’t been through this process myself, but just know it’s an option.
10. Be strong
If you’re already at this stage then know that you’re doing the best you absolutely can, but I want you to understand that YOU are your child’s advocate. If you don’t agree with something (not just with NDIS but in life), then fight it. No-one is going to stick up for your child as much as you will, no-one understands your child like you do, no-one knows your child’s needs like you do so if you need to fight tooth and nail to get them the care they need, know that you can and you should.
I wish you the best of luck with your meeting, and hope that these tips can help you feel more prepared and empowered to advocate for your sweet babe. Please leave a comment if you have something you found helpful that wasn’t on this list!