Turning 18 is a big deal for young Australians. Yes, it’s the age at which you can legally drink, drive by yourself and cast a vote, but it’s also about so much more. This is when we really yearn for independence and freedom, and the ability to make impactful decisions around who we are and what we want to do with our lives.
For those teenagers living with a disability, the aspirations are no different. So what does turning 18 look like for a person with an NDIS plan? And how can the NDIS help during this momentous time?
People with disabilities have the same legal rights at 18
At 18, a person becomes an adult in the eyes of the law. They have the right to make their own decisions and are responsible for their actions; this is the same for able-bodied people and those with a disability.
The only time an adult isn’t responsible for their decisions is when it’s legally proven otherwise.
Decision making is important
Learning to make decisions is an important step in the transition from childhood to adulthood. It allows young people to explore their identities, values, and aspirations. By making choices and taking responsibility for the outcomes, they gain a better understanding of themselves and their preferences.
This period of life is also marked by increased exposure to risks and challenges. Developing decision-making skills enables young people to assess potential risks, consider consequences and make choices that prioritise their safety and well-being.
Studies have shown that self-determination is important for all children, leading to greater hope and optimism for the future. When a child is deprived of it, they are at greater risk of low self-esteem and social isolation.
How the NDIS can support those turning 18
Some people on an NDIS plan are fully capable of making their own decisions, while others need assistance. Within the NDIS, when a person turns 18, this assistance is called ‘supported decision making’. What this looks like depends upon the person and the complexity of their disability, but the purpose is the same regardless: providing a pathway for the person to develop their decision-making capabilities.
The person appointed as nominee to help with decision-making can be a family member or any other caregiver. The level of disability determines what type of nominee they are, of which there are two, Let’s take a look at these roles.
This type of nominee can make requests and receive letters and information from the NDIS. They cannot, however, make decisions around funds or the NDIS plan.
A plan nominee is more involved, able to make the same decisions as a participant, such as reviewing and changing a plan, making decisions around funding and managing the budget. A single participant can have multiple plan nominees who work together for their benefit.
Turning 18 is a good time for an NDIS plan review
As we approach 18, we start to think about life beyond school and all that entails. Tertiary education, jobs, career pathways, moving out of the family home, and so on. This is an important time to review your NDIS plan and possibly update it to ensure that it reflects and supports the journey you want to go on.
Here are some things you may want to think about regarding your plan:
- Does it help with the transition to living more independently?
- Does it assist in forging a career helping you find paid work?
- Are you intending on continuing your education beyond high school? Does your current plan have any supports in place to help with that?
- As you will be soon responsible for your own decision-making, is there any support in place to help you develop this capability?
Preparing for life beyond 18 begins in childhood
The NDIS encourages people who turn 18 to become more active in their lives and more responsible around the decisions that impact them. But this isn’t life flicking a switch; this level of capability has to be developed over time.
For carers or parents who are interested in improving their child’s decision-making capabilities, here are some things you can do with them:
- Involve your child in goal-setting. For instance, if they want to get involved in more activities, write up a list of clubs or organisations in your area and help them choose which one they’d like to join.
- Get them involved with the NDIS. If you are interviewing for a new support worker, have the child sit in on the interview and ask them their opinion afterwards, what they liked about the person and what they didn’t.
- Familiarise your child with basic record keeping. For instance, you could show them a folder on the computer where you keep all relevant NDIS documents and show them how you use it.
- Help your child develop ways in which they can talk about their disability. Perhaps come up with a simplified explanation that’s easy to remember and communicate.
We can provide crucial guidance
Turning 18 should be an awesome time in life. For people with an NDIS plan, it’s vital that they make sure it provides the support appropriate for their ambitions and goals. Give us a call today and we can help you with an NDIS plan review and have a chat about supported decision making and which type of nominee is best for your situation.