Paying for Therapy

Funding Options

HCWA Funding

The Helping Children with Autism (or HCWA) program is a Australian Government funding package created to increase access to early intervention therapy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Once a family has received HCWA, they can use this to pay for therapy services for their child. This therapy will be specifically tailored to the needs of their child and aimed at improving skills or modifying behaviours to improve the child’s capacity to participate in everyday life and prepare for school.

The HCWA funding gives families access to up to $12,000 to spend on therapy.

To be eligible for this funding, a child must:

  • Be between the ages of 0 and 6 years (funding lasts until they are 7 years old);
  • Be an Australian citizen or permanent resident; and
  • Have received a clear diagnosis of ASD made by a paediatrician, psychiatrist, or a multi-disciplinary team consisting of at least a qualified psychologist and a speech therapist.

Ideally, the HCWA funding will ensure more choice and flexibility to a family in accessing early intervention therapies for their child. The funding is managed by the family, who may select any therapist on the program and change therapists if they need to. This gives families the freedom to focus on the areas and skills that they think are important and will most help their child.

For further information on the HCWA funding visit FaHCSIA's page here. Amaze (Autism Victoria) has developed a video regarding the funding package, to see this click here.

Medicare rebates

Medicare offers rebates for therapy sessions delivered by allied health professionals (therapists). These plans are much like using Medicare for seeing a doctor. These plans need to be written by a doctor before they can be used.

There are many different Medicare plans that are available, but three are particularly helpful for offsetting the cost of therapy. These are:

  • The Chronic Disease Management Plan (sometimes called the Enhanced Primary Care plan or EPC);
  • The Mental Health Care Plan;
  • The Helping Children with Autism Access to Diagnosis and Treatment Plan (sometimes called Medicare Item 135).

For more information about these Medicare plans, please visit the Medicare website.

You can also see a Medicare information sheet that has been developed by Amaze (Autism Victoria) here.

State funded services

The Australian state and territory governments also provide disability services and early intervention services to families of children with disabilities, although the nature of these services and how they work will vary from state to state. Often, the government department responsible for the early intervention funding will provide a service or agency with funding, and the service will then provide support to the family.

Generally, these services generally finish when a child starts school.

An early intervention service may provide special education, therapy, counselling, service planning and coordination, assistance and support to access services such as kindergarten and child care. Families may be allocated a key worker.  A key worker model is where an early childhood intervention professional becomes a family’s primary contact point and the worker practices from a strengths-based, family-centred perspective that enables the family to be in control of their lives. They may visit the family home, or provide services in a clinic, community setting, child care, or kindergarten/preschool.

The overall aim of these services is to provide parents and families with the knowledge, skills and support to meet the needs of their child and to optimise the child's development and ability to participate in family and community life.

As the services and support available may be different depending on where you live, the best source of information is the services themselves. For more information, please contact your State or Territory association.

Private health cover

People with extras cover on their health insurance may receive a certain number of therapy sessions or a subsidy towards therapy sessions claimable from their insurer. If you have private health cover or are interested in getting some, enquire with the insurer what they offer in terms of extras.

Disability Care Australia

Disability Care Australia (previously called National Disability Insurance Scheme) is a national initiative that will provide funding for people with disabilities. Although at time of writing, the details for this scheme are not fully known, it is likely that it will give individuals with a permanent disability an amount of funding based on their needs to spend on services and support. This will likely include therapy and related interventions. Please visit for more information.

Cost of Therapy

Fees for services delivered by therapists can vary, and depend on a number of factors.

Some of these factors include:

  • The level of qualification and the amount of experience a therapist has
  • The duration of the session
  • Whether the therapist works for themselves, or if they are part of a large organisation
  • Whether the therapist provides services from a clinic or whether they travel to your home or to your child’s childcare, kindergarten, or school
  • Whether they are delivering an assessment with a written report or a regular therapy session
  • Whether the therapy was 1-on-1, or whether it was a group session with multiple participants.

A therapist may offer a number of different services or packages and these may be listed in a brochure or available on their website. You are always able to ask a therapist what their fees are, regardless of the method of payment you intend to use. This is a question you should ask before you make an appointment with them.

Psychology fees may range from $140 to $230 for a one-hour, in-clinic session.

Occupational Therapy fees may range from $120 to $200 for a one-hour, in-clinic session.

Speech Pathology fees may range from $115 to $250 for a one-hour, in-clinic session.

Interactive timetable

To see how many opportunities you already have in your everyday schedule for using strategies learnt in therapy, drag and drop the tiles below into the timetable and watch the hours add up!!

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday


Total hours: 0

Anxiety is a state of worry or fear about a real or perceived threatening event or situation, which often impairs physical and psychological functioning.

Articulation is how one makes sounds in words.

Auditory processing is the ability to perceive, interpret and respond to sound (auditory) stimuli. For example; a child who experiences difficulty processing auditory stimuli may be respond negatively to noise that you would not typically expect to bother someone, such as a vacuum cleaner. Alternatively, a child may have a decreased awareness of auditory stimuli and may not respond when their name is called.

A baseline is a measurement taken at one point in time against which future scores will be compared to measure progress. For example, before speech therapy begins, a therapist might measure how many objects a child can name. They might then measure this again one month, two months and three months after therapy has started to see how much progress the child has made.

Body awareness is the ability to recognise different parts of your own body, and their relative position.

Cognition refers to the mental process of acquiring knowledge.

A child’s developmental age will indicate where a child is socially, emotionally, physically, and intellectually on their path of development, as compared to typical behaviors and characteristics of that age.

Early intervention means doing something, or intervening, as early as possible to work on your child’s development and support needs.

Explicit teaching involves setting aside a block of time to work on a specific skill or task.

Expressive language is how one expresses their needs, wants, thoughts, and feelings.

Fine motor skills refer to the use of small muscle of the hands and fingers that allow us to manipulate and control objects and materials. This includes tasks that involve grasping (for example using a crayon or pencil), manipulating objects (using scissors) or activities that require hand-eye coordination (like threading, writing, doing up buttons and zips).

Gross motor skills refer to the use of the large muscle groups of the body that enable us to maintain an upright posture and coordinate the two sides of the body. Gross motor skills allow us to run, skip, climb and jump.

Gustatory processing is the ability to perceive, interpret, and respond to taste (gustatory) information. For example; a child who has difficulty processing taste information may have a self-limited diet, alternatively, they may crave strong flavours excessively such as spicy or sour.

A joint therapy session is when there are two or more therapists working with your child at the same time. This is generally two therapists from different disciplines.

Key word sign is the use of manual signs and natural gesture to support communication.  Key word sign is used to encourage and support language development in children with communication difficulties.

A low registering child does not register sensations at a typical level and does not seek out sensory stimulation. For example, a child that does not register auditory input at a typical level, may not notice when their name is being called.

Motor planning is the ability of the brain to plan and organise an action before it is carried out.

A multidisciplinary team includes members from different healthcare professions with specialised skills and expertise. The members collaborate together to make treatment recommendations for your child.

Non-verbal communication refers to elements of communication such as gesture, facial expression, and body language.

Olfactory processing is the ability to perceive, interpret, and respond to smell (olfactory) information. For example; a child presenting with an olfactory processing issue may smell objects excessively, alternatively, they may be over sensitive to smell information and actively avoid it.

Opportunistic teaching is using everyday ‘opportunities’ or activities to teach and practice the skills outlined in your child’s therapy plan.

Percentile rank is another way of explaining where your child’s score sits in comparison to other children their age. For example, if your child receives a standard score of 85 which is at the 16th percentile, this means that your child’s score was better than or equal to the score of 16% of other children his or her age. Another way of looking at it is that if 100 children completed this test and you lined them up from the person with the lowest score to the person with the highest score, your child would be standing in position 16.

Pragmatic language refers to the social use of language and includes the ability to understand verbal (tone of voice) and non-verbal cues (eye gaze, body language, facial expression)  as well as the social rules of language (turn taking, staying on topic, showing interest in others’ conversation).

Proprioception is the ability to understand where your body is in space. The receptors for this system are located in the muscles and joints of the body. For example; a child who experiences difficulty with the processing of proprioceptive information may have a decreased perception of pain, or seek movement excessively and appear to always be ‘on the go’.

Receptive language is how well one understands language, this includes information that is given verbally or in written form.

Self-care skills can also be referred to as ‘independence skills’. This include skills such as dressing, toileting, bathing, eating, and sleeping.

A sensory avoiding child is one who actively avoids sensory stimuli. For example a child who is sensitive to tactile (touch) information may not be able to wear certain clothing types such as wool.

Sensory processing is the way in which the brain receives, organises and responds to sensory information for everyday use. It also includes our ability to plan our actions and movements.

A child who is a sensory seeker does not register sensations at a typical level so may seek out sensory stimulation with increased frequency and intensity. For example a child who does not register taste information at a typical level may seek out spicy, salty, or very sweet foods.

A sensory sensitive child is easily overwhelmed by small amounts of sensory input. For example: a child with a sensitivity to auditory input may notice sounds that others do not register.

Sequencing is the ability to follow a set of steps within a task.

Skill generalisation is the ability to take a skill learned in one environment and successfully transfer it to another. For example a child first learns to use the toilet at home and then is able to use the toilet at kindergarten.

Social skills enable us to interact with people within our world and understand social rules. For a child, this begins with skills such as turn-taking, saying hello, and waiting.

Spatial awareness is the ability to perceive the position of your body in space.

A standardised assessment is a tool that has been designed to determine a child’s developmental level when compared to other children of the same age. Standardised assessments give a clear score that can be used as a baseline for therapy.

Tactile processing is the ability to receive, interpret, and respond to touch (tactile) information. For example; a child who has difficulty processing tactile information may not tolerate the feel of certain fabrics on their skin. Alternatively, they may not notice touch in the way they would be expected to.

The team around your child is anyone who plays an important role in your child’s development. Starting with the parents/carers, this may also include; therapists, teacher, respite worker, siblings, grandparents etc. The ‘team’ will vary depending on the child’s needs.

Verbal communication refers to speaking, either with or without aids for support.

The vestibular system is located in the inner ear and is responsible for our balance, understanding of motion, and spatial awareness. For example; a child who experiences vestibular processing issues may become distressed when their feet leave the ground, alternatively, they may crave vestibular input and spin or rock excessively.

Visual perception is the ability to understand, interpret and remember what one sees and respond accordingly.

Visual processing is the ability to perceive, interpret, and respond to visual stimuli. For example; a child who has difficulty processing visual information may be easily distracted by visual stimuli within their environment or become focused on a certain part of an object such as watching the wheels of a toy truck spin.