​Disability at different ages

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The challenges and demands of disability can change as you go through life’s different stages.

Key points

  • Everyone changes over time as they go through different life stages, and people with disability may have changes to their disability as well
  • The different stages of life may mean different support needs, as well as different types of funding
  • These stages can be grouped into preschool – 0-4 years old, kids of 5-12, teenagers 13-17, adults 18-64, and seniors aged 65 and older

Going through different life stages, from infancy to early childhood and primary school age, adolescence to adulthood and into old age, all have their own challenges and demands.

For a person with disability, going through these developmental transitions means that your focus, goals and supports may change over time.

For example, the focus of supports for a child with disability in primary school won’t be the same as for an adult who has goals related to adult life. And a teenager on the path to independence has different challenges to a person with disability nearing the age of 65 who may be looking at a possible transition from National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) supports to aged care services.

Aged group support needs

Preschool 0-4 years

Early intervention is common supports used for preschool children.

Therapies for young children often involve family members learning how to support their child as well, and the goals for these supports are family centred, rather than being created by the child.

The NDIS aims to have processes in place to ensure families can access support as early as possible so that children can develop to their full potential.

Kids 5-12 years

Common supports for children with disability in this age group are likely to focus around school and building relationships with peers of the same age, as well as family.

School supports are usually funded through Government education departments, rather than the NDIS.

As children are still developing physically and mentally at this age supports might also need to be changed often to keep up with their growth.

Teenagers 13-17 years

Teenagers with disability are likely to continue to need some of the same supports around schooling, however, they are also likely to need transition support to look beyond school to what their options are when they become an adult.

For example, teenagers may want to start looking for employment or future employment, or explore further study options.

Adults 18-64 years

A key theme for adults with disability is having independence and using supports and services to reach that goal of independence.

Supports to help develop independence may include building up to moving out of the family home, finding stable and long-term employment, learning to drive or use public transport and regular community participation activities.

Seniors 65+ years

People with disability over the age of 65 are not eligible for the NDIS unless they become a participant before turning 65 years old.

Those who have a plan at the age of 64 or earlier can continue to receive NDIS funding, however, if a disability is acquired after the cut-off age or a person does not apply early enough, they are only eligible for aged care funding for supports.

This can be an issue for older people with disability as Home Care Packages can include less funding than NDIS plans and are also means tested.

What else would you like to know about why support needs may change? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

What support can I get?
Preparing for your NDIS planning meeting
Plan reviews and appeals