Accusations like these are a kick in the guts to every autistic person desperately trying to get help with the mounting costs of their medical and social care, especially when we know who the real villains are.
Just last weekend, sitting with a friend, she happened to tell me about her brother-in-law. As he is non-verbal and unable to walk, his mother had recently bought him a new shower chair through the NDIS. The third-party NDIS-provider charged him $300. Looking online, my friend found that the chair retails for less than $50. It happens all the time, she told me.
But sure, autistic people are the real thieves on the NDIS.
Six months since I first printed the NDIS application form, I still haven’t sent off my paperwork.
I know my application will most likely be rejected. “Level 1”, so-called “high-functioning” autistic people like me aren’t a priority for the NDIS, let alone broader society. A lot of the time, we can “keep it together”.
Though we’re eight times more likely to be unemployed, a lot of the time, we can just about survive cycles of constant burnout at work. Though we have a long list of comorbidities, we can make sure we only scream and cry in the privacy of our own homes. And though we have a disproportionately high risk of suicide and a life expectancy 20-36 years shorter than the general population, we can generally mask our deep, debilitating unhappiness.
Typically, it’s the “low-functioning” autistic people who get social and financial support. Unable to mask quite so well, their problems are a public spectacle, so they get the gift of support, and are charged excessively for the privilege.
Now, the NDIS is making it even harder for all of us to get help.
For many disabled Australians, the NDIS began as a lifeline: after years of receiving little to no support, we were finally starting to get the help we need and deserve.
With funding cuts to the NDIS on the way, autistic people will suffer. But don’t worry, the businesses selling plastic chairs for $300 will be just fine.
Elena Filipczyk is an autistic writer and PhD student.
Lifeline 13 11 14
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