For people with autism, there are all types of therapies that can be funded through your NDIS plan to help develop your skills and independence and work towards your NDIS goals – whatever they may be. We asked our team to provide some of their favourites. Here are the top 5:

1. Equine Therapy

Some people feel more comfortable and relaxed around animals than people. This is the basis for equine (or horse) therapy, an increasingly popular form of therapy for people of all ages with autism. The NDIS uses the very technical term “animal-assisted intervention” to describe this therapy, which takes therapy sessions out of the office and into the paddock. Being around a horse can reduce anxiety, allowing you to get more out of your therapy.

Might be right for you if…You want to develop your social abilities and to express emotions in a calming setting, and feel being around animals would make that easier for you.     

2. Music therapy

They say music soothes the soul – and for some people that’s very true. Music therapy uses the power of music to improve your health and wellbeing. There are lots of kinds of music therapy, from making music and singing along, to sharing and discussing music in a group setting. It also has many applications and can support a wide range of goals, including developing your social skills, increasing your ability to self-regulate, and even as a companion to speech therapy.

Might be right for you if… Music plays a big part in your life and you want to share that connection with others and build social skills.   

Play-based versions of Occupational Therapy

Playing is a vital part of growing up, building our coordination and social skills. It also teaches valuable lessons about setting goals, turn-taking, problem-solving, and more. Because of these benefits, occupational therapists often use the act of play to help people with autism reach their functional goals. Play-based therapy isn’t just for children, as many adults benefit from having a safe and tactile space to explore their feelings and build skills.

Might be right for you if…You have difficulty expressing yourself verbally and feel safe and supported while in a tactile and playful environment.


Sometimes the simple act of sharing ideas in a supportive environment can have a holistic benefit on our health and wellbeing. Autism-led mentoring programs provide a safe space for people with autism to come together and connect, making friendships and developing social skills. Many of these programs allow participants to speak about a special interest of theirs, making them perfect for people with a passion for a certain topic. 

Might be right for you if…You’re passionate about a special interest topic and want to develop your social skills among a supportive group.

Aqua therapy

Aqua therapy isn’t your everyday swimming lessons. While they might look similar, aqua therapy uses the pool as a setting for other therapeutic goals, which can be physiological, social, or emotional. Aqua therapy is a popular choice for some people with autism, as the constant pressure and temperature of the water help to regulate excitement and create a soothing space. Group sessions can also be a great place to make new friends and build independence.

Might be right for you if…Weight-bearing exercise or movement is difficult or painful, or you’re looking to socialise in a setting that isn’t overwhelming. 

What you need in your plan

Most therapy is funded under the NDIS support category of Improved Daily Living. This funding is used to pay for supports that help you develop and maintain the skills you need to achieve your NDIS goals and live the life you want.

Improved Daily Living funding can be used to access any kind of therapy, so long as it could be considered reasonable and necessary. While this is open to a lot of interpretation, if the therapy is related to your disability and will help you achieve the goals in your NDIS plan, it will probably be allowed. Remember, there are lots of ways that therapy can help you achieve your goals. For example, a group music therapy session could help you increase your social skills – a common NDIS goal for people with autism.

Getting funding for therapy

To get Improved Daily Living in your plan, you’ll need to give the NDIS a clear picture of some of the challenges you face in your daily life and how therapies may help you to overcome them, to live more independently and participate more in the community. Any evidence you can take to your planning meeting that shows how your disability impacts your day-to-day life and how therapy can help you achieve your goals.

We suggest getting an occupational therapist (OT) or healthcare professional to create a written report  that uses standardised tools to assess your disability and its effect on your life.  While you can use your Improved Daily Living funding to access any therapy, if this expert report recommends a specific form of therapeutic support, that can help get you the funding you need. 

Unlocking more with plan management

Many local, qualified and private-practice therapy providers are not registered with the NDIS. Plan management allows you access to these “unregistered providers” using your NDIS funding – something that isn’t possible if the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) manages your funding. Whether your therapist is registered or unregistered, it’s important you can trust they have the skills and experience to support you. With a quick search online, you can confirm their official qualifications and registrations, as well as reading reviews from their clients.

Plan management can also free up your valuable time by putting the invoicing in the hands of an expert – you stay in full control over your NDIS journey, but without the time consuming admin. 

At Plan Partners, we’re experienced with helping people use their funding to achieve their goals in new and creative ways. We do more than just manage all the invoicing that comes with your NDIS plan (although we do that too), we give you the tools to navigate the NDIS with confidence and make it easier and quicker to access supports.