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Sensory-based Interventions and the NDIS



Sensory-based interventions are designed to help individuals with sensory impairments or sensory processing difficulties. These interventions can be used to help people with disabilities to develop and maintain functional skills, as well as improve their overall quality of life.

Sensory-based disabilities affect a person's ability to receive, process, and interpret sensory information. Sensory-based disabilities include deafness, blindness, autism, auditory processing disorder, and ADHD.


Sensory-based interventions may include sensory integration therapy, sensory diets, sensory modulation, and other activities designed to help those with sensory impairments better process and interpret sensory information.


The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides funding for various services and supports to Australians with a disability. Depending on the individual's needs and circumstances, the NDIS may fund multiple interventions, including assessments, individualised programs and therapies, targeted intervention strategies, and specialised equipment. This includes funding for sensory-based interventions. Funding for sensory-based interventions is available for both children and adults.


Here is a breakdown of some of the interventions currently used.


Sensory Integration Therapy

Sensory integration therapy is an occupational therapy that helps children with sensory processing disorder (SPD) to organise and interpret sensory information. It can help them develop the ability to process data from their senses, such as sight, smell, touch, movement, and sound. Children learn how to respond appropriately to sensory input through therapeutic play, tactile stimulation, and body movements.


Sensory Diet

A sensory diet is a collection of activities that a person with a sensory processing disorder can use to help regulate their sensory system. It is tailored to the individual's needs and considers their environment, preferences, and abilities. It may include brushing, weighted objects, deep pressure, chewing, jumping, and spinning. The goal of a sensory diet is to reduce sensory overload and help the person become more organised and better able to interact with their environment.


Sensory Modulation

Sensory modulation is a term used to describe the ability of the body to organise and interpret sensory input. It is a process by which the nervous system regulates and modifies the intensity, duration, and quality of incoming sensory information to respond appropriately to the environment. Sensory modulation involves selecting, filtering, and interpreting incoming sensory information and providing a meaningful and adaptive response.


What are the principles that underpin the use of sensory-based interventions?

There is no universal set of principles relating to sensory-based interventions for children on the autism spectrum.

The elements in current use are:

  • Providing sensory opportunities, such as tactile and proprioceptive experiences.

  • Challenging children's sensory systems, but at a level that is just right for each child.

  • Collaborating on activity choice, including incorporating children's interests.

  • Helping children learn to self-organise their play and behaviour.

  • Supporting optimal arousals, such as by modifying the environment to keep attention, engagement, and comfort.

  • Using play as the context for learning.

  • Maximising children's success during activities.

  • Ensuring children's physical safety.

  • Arranging the room so that children are encouraged to interact and learn.

  • Fostering therapeutic alliance with the child, such as through conveying positive regard.

Who delivers these interventions?

Children on the autism spectrum often have needs across multiple learning domains, including physical and mental health. Accordingly, children and families may benefit from the expertise of various clinical practitioners spanning health, education and medical disciplines.


Clinical practitioners must acquire appropriate qualifications for all intervention categories, be regulated (e.g. by a professional or government body), and deliver interventions within their scope of practice.


If you have experience in the sensory-based disability sector and would like to know more about becoming an NDIS Provider, please don't hesitate to get in contact us here. We will call you to chat and provide you any information you require.

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