disability sign

Occupational therapy under the NDIS can help people who struggle with daily activities due to a disability. OT teaches people how to adapt to day-to-day life using tools and techniques taught by a trained health professional.

Tasks you may require help with include eating and dressing independently, cleaning up around the house and participating in work or leisure activities.

What is an OT?

An OT is a trained health professional who has completed graduate training and is licenced. Some OTs may have completed additional training in order to specialise in areas like paediatrics, rehabilitation or palliative care. They may work alongside other health professionals, such as doctors or psychologists.

What do they do?

They help a wide range of people – from babies to seniors – perform daily tasks with more ease or less pain.

When receiving occupational therapy under the NDIS, the first appointment will involve an assessment of the individual’s needs and goals. This may involve visiting the home, school or workplace to observe what tasks need to be done and if any changes need to be made. They will then create a personalised plan and create goals in order to work towards better outcomes.

Specific things they may do include:

  • Prescribe and teach people to use assistive devices including grabbers, wheelchairs and hearing aids
  • Help develop motor skills such as grasping and walking, and hand-eye coordination
  • Help people prevent falls or injuries in the home or elsewhere
  • Organise household items and medications
  • Teach people things like how to tie shoelaces, enter and exit a shower or bath, or how to use a computer; and
  • Help people with rehabilitation – building muscle strength, working on memory or speech issues, and improving balance.

Who can benefit from occupational therapy under the NDIS?

People with a disability may be able to access OT as part of the scheme. It is not available for people over the age of 65 unless you turn 65 after you have been approved entry into the scheme. Eligibility varies depending on the state you live in, and considers factors such as age and location.

If you are eligible for occupational therapy under the NDIS, some of the conditions you may want to seek help for include:

Sensory disabilities

A sensory disability includes those which affect one or more senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, spatial awareness), such as:

person with down syndromeIntellectual disabilities

Intellectual disabilities are those characterised by limited intellectual functioning, which may lead to difficulties in learning and performing social and practical skills. Some intellectual disabilities that could benefit from occupational therapy under the NDIS include:

  • Down syndrome
  • Fragile X syndrome (FXS)
  • Prader-Wili syndrome (PWS)
  • Developmental delay
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)

Mental illness

Mental illness refers to conditions which severely affect a person’s feelings, thoughts, behaviours and interactions with others. They include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Physical disabilities

Physical disabilities affect an individual’s physical capacity. They may be caused by genetics, illness or injury. If you have one of the following, you could benefit from occupational therapy under the NDIS:

  • Epilepsy
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Cystic fibrosis (CF)
  • Acquired brain injury
  • Spina bifida
  • Spinal cord injury


From those with mental to physical disabilities, there are many people who could potentially benefit from partaking in occupational therapy under the NDIS. See your GP or contact the National Disability Insurance Scheme for more information.