Monday, May 17, 2010

Me and Centrelink - Job Capacity Assessments

This was the part where I thought the wheels would fall off.

I knew that the interviewer would be a 'health professional', but what sort of health professional? Psychologist? Social Worker? Physiotherapist? Would they have a clue about autism? Would they see a tall, healthy, walking, talking teenager and say 'Nothing wrong here'?

We got an Occupational Therapist. He had a clue.
I realised that he was deliberately addressing questions to Dreamer. As he should. He would wait an appropriate time for an answer, then, and only then, turn to look at me, indicating that it was now my turn to answer for Dreamer, or expand on Dreamer's answer.

He explained that his job was to translate the medical reports into Centrelink-speak, and to apply the legal 'disability tables' and decide where Dreamer fit.

There are 22 tables. Dreamer might be assessed on Psychiatric Impairment, or Neurological Function, or even Communication Function. I didn't really care, and I have no idea which table the nice OT picked.

At the end of the interview, he said that as far as he was concerned, based on the contents of the report he would send to Centrelink, Dreamer should have no problem with being granted a Pension.

Less than a week later, we received a letter with an application for a tax file number. That was heartening - Dreamer wouldn't need a tax file number unless he was receiving money. Checked the bank account, and there was the money.

A pension application is approved for two years. Phew. That gives us  breathing space. Dreamer can focus for the next two years on learning and training and working at his own pace. He can also buy his own movie tickets, and the occasional can of Coke, or CD, using his own money, just like his younger brother.

ASD is often referred to as a 'developmental delay', implying that given time, the 'development' will get there in the end.

I believe it will. I believe that Dreamer will grow to be a productive member of society. I'm just glad that he's not expected to achieve that by December, when he'll be squeezed out the end of the education system sausage factory after his allotted 12 years.


  1. This is good.
    I keep waiting for the other 'insensitive government' shoe to drop... but I like this story so far!


  2. I think we've made it through the maze. Dreamer has been designated 'unable to work unassisted for the next two years'. I assume there'll be a review then. Meantime, his pension gets cut if he gets a job, which seems highly unlikely at this point in time, lol.