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Inform issue 28 – Spring 2019

  • Text
  • Inform
  • Parks
  • Films
  • Coordinator
  • Caytlyn
  • Australia
  • Coordination
  • Feature
  • Disability
  • Ndis
In this issue of Inform we celebrate the change-makers. We follow Caytlyn Sharp, a T20 professional athlete from Western Victoria. We also chat with Alex, an NDIS Support Coordinator.

26 informonline.org.au

26 informonline.org.au NDIS Feature Driving and the NDIS The ability to drive can mean independence and freedom. But what if you have a physical or cognitive disability? Thanks to developments in technology and driver education there are now fewer barriers to getting behind the wheel. If getting your licence and taking to the open road is one of your goals, read on to find out how you might make that happen. For Antonio, getting back behind the wheel gave him freedom and independence.

NDIS Feature informonline.org.au 27 ‘Driving has given me the freedom to go where I want when I want.’ Antonio Vecchio was nineteen when a car accident left him a quadriplegic. Forced to relearn how to drive, Antonio describes a process involving rehabilitation, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, but he says it was worth it for the freedom driving gives him. ‘I was in rehabilitation and through the goal planning meeting we spoke about the possibility of driving and the process involved,’ Antonio said. ‘I started with working with a physio to get the skills to get in and out of the car and get my wheelchair in and out of the car. I had the driving lessons whilst in rehabilitation to get used to driving with hand controls and to assess what type of controls and accessories I would need to be able to drive.’ For Antonio, getting back behind the wheel means he doesn’t need to rely on friends or family or pay for taxis. Driving and the NDIS Making driving one of your goals is the first step towards getting behind the wheel. And the NDIS can help you achieve your goal with funding through Capital and Capacity Building support provided your disability is likely to affect your ability to drive or to learn to drive. The NDIS may provide funding for vehicle modifications, access to allied health services like physiotherapists and occupational therapists and driver education and training. According to Austroads Medical standards for licensing, an important early step towards getting your licence is a medical review. It’s something most driver licensing authorities will require and can be completed by your doctor. Next, depending on the outcome of your medical review, the driver licensing authority will likely request a practical driver assessment. This assessment is designed to assess the impact of your disability on your driving skills. These assessments are generally conducted by occupational therapists who are trained in driver assessment. What does a practical driver assessment cover? Depending on your disability, the assessment can include: • Determining the need for vehicle modifications • Your ability to control the vehicle • Your functional status including physical strength, reaction time and cognitive function • Your understanding and application of road laws • Your lifestyle and your requirement for driving If you haven't held a licence before, the assessment will look at things like your cognitive or physical barriers and any necessary vehicle modifications. It will also establish your current skill level and create an individualised plan working with you and a driving instructor. Your doctor and allied health professionals can’t make the final decision about whether you can get your licence, that responsibility rests with the driver licensing authority in your state. And there are a variety of options available to you, from a full, unconditional licence to a conditional licence. Conditional licences may include vehicle modifications, restrictions on night-time driving or driving when temperatures exceed set limits or area restrictions. Occupational therapist Erin Burns says if driving is important to you, it’s worth pursuing even if the process seems daunting. ‘Not being able to drive is a significant barrier to accessing the community and engaging in the activities of daily life and often results in social isolation and disengagement,’ she said.