Autism: Accessing early intervention support via the NDIS

A mother and her young son play with blocks together.

According to the latest NDIS Quarterly report, as of 31 March 2022, there were 80,239 children younger than seven years of age with an NDIS plan, and a further 10,812 accessing early connections.

If you are a parent of a very young child with disability, or if you observe that your child is experiencing developmental delay, early intervention support reduces the possible need for longer-term intervention and will support them towards leading a happier, more fulfilling life. Here’s a look at the NDIS pathways that can give you access to the support you need.

According to this news report on the NDIS website, 502,413 participants across the country access the NDIS. Parents of kids with disability will understand the importance of early intervention. The NDIS has recognised this with the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) program (now renamed early childhood approach), developed for families that need support right now.

How does the NDIS address early intervention needs?

According to the Raising Children Network, the approach gives families of kids aged 0-8 quick access to services that are tailored to their needs and addresses the areas where they have demonstrated they need the most support.

Currently the NDIS early childhood approach supports children younger than seven and their families. From 1 July 2023, the age of children supported under the early childhood approach will progressively change, to include children younger than nine. Learn more about this change on the NDIS website.

The support is designed to build on the strengths and capacity of the family and home environment and can take the form of:

  • Information or emotional support for families
  • Referral to other services like community health services, playgroups or peer support groups
  • Sessions with early childhood early intervention providers in the short or medium term.

If it is apparent that the child will require long term support, they may also receive an individualised NDIS plan. Importantly, this support does not require the child to have a specific diagnosis. Rather, it can be provided at the presentation of developmental delays that might require further investigation.

How can families access early intervention services via the NDIS?

You can visit the NDIS website to access their five-step guide on how to access services under this program. We’ve also summarised them for you below:

Step 1: The first step is to contact an Early Childhood Partner in your local area. You can search for the closest early childhood partner. Early childhood partners are external organisations who have been contracted by the NDIS to help you identify what support families require and connect you with those supports in your community.

Step 2: At the next step, the early childhood partner will work with you to provide information on how support would be tailored to the needs of your child.

Step 3: You’ll then be connected with the most appropriate supports in your area, such as a community health centre, an educational setting or playgroup. Some short-term early intervention may be provided where identified as appropriate.

Step 4: You will then be referred to services available to help your child achieve their goals. This could include: How you can access supports and services in your local community. Short-term early intervention supports if suitable. Help to access the NDIS if longer-term support is required.

Step 5: Part of your early childhood partner’s role is to work with you to monitor your child’s progress and make adjustments to support you are receiving.

The new early childhood approach: where it is now?

The early childhood approach guideline was published in June 2021. It’s the first time a guideline specific to children has been introduced.For more information on how you can access early intervention, visit, or phone 1800 800 110. For people with hearing or speech loss, phone TTY on 1800 555 727. People who need help with English can call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450.