Sam’s story of NDIS support

Sam is 2½ years old. Sam’s parents are worried about some of his behaviour at home and in public.

For example, Sam often gets very upset in the trolley at the supermarket if his mother touches him on the arm to stop him from grabbing things. He also gets upset at child care when other children or staff members touch him or brush past him. In these situations, Sam hits and yells at people and tries to run away.

Sam’s parents take him to see their local GP for advice. Their GP recommends they make an appointment to meet with an NDIS early childhood partner.

When the NDIS early childhood partner meets with Sam’s parents, they talk about things like what situations make Sam’s behaviour worse, how long the behaviour has been happening and what Sam’s parents want to achieve.

Sam’s parents want Sam to be able to interact physically with other people without getting so upset. The issue is affecting their relationship with him and they can see him withdrawing from other people too.

The NDIS early childhood partner arranges for Sam and his parents to see an occupational therapist and a speech pathologist. The aim is to come up with some strategies Sam’s parents can use to help Sam at home.

Working together, these professionals discover that Sam is ultra-sensitive to light touch. They work out that if they hold Sam firmly or tell him when they’re going to touch him, his behaviour is much better.

At home, Sam’s parents start telling him when they’re going to pick him up and put him in his car seat before doing it. In public, they hold his arms more firmly in the supermarket trolley.

The occupational therapist gets in touch with Sam’s child care centre and gives the staff information to better understand Sam’s behaviour and what they can do to help him. This includes:

  • talking to Sam before touching him
  • touching him firmly instead of softly
  • recognising non-verbal cues to when Sam is feeling overwhelmed.

Sam’s behaviour improves dramatically after a couple of visits to the occupational therapist, along with the work Sam’s parents and child care workers are doing.

Under the NDIS, Sam and his family got a coordinated approach to early intervention. The NDIS early childhood partner suggested practical strategies they could use at home and in public and arranged short-term early intervention. The early childhood partner also organised support for staff at Sam’s child care centre. Sam didn’t need to become an NDIS participant.