Types of disabilities we support

Wheelchair user playing with a cat

Physical disability

We support people with impaired limb function which affects their ability to do daily activities and/or mobility. 

Some impairments due to significant skeletal malformations (eg severe scoliosis) may also meet the physical disability eligibility criteria, depending on the nature of the resulting impairment.

Other types of physical disability:

  • Partial or total absence or loss of limbs (eg at birth or due to an amputation)
  • Structural impairments of limbs (eg due to achondroplasia)
  • Paralysis (eg hemiplegia following a brain haemorrhage or paraplegia due to spina bifida)
  • Reduced muscle strength or muscle wasting (eg due to muscular dystrophy or motor neuron disease)
  • Ataxia (eg due to cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis)
  • Muscle tone abnormalities (eg due to acquired brain injury)
  • Limitation in the range of movement (e.g. due to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis).
Young woman at gym boxing

Intellectual disability

An intellectual disability describes a person with a permanently impaired learning ability that occurs before the age of 18.

It is characterised by significant sub-average intellectual functioning (IQ approximately 70 or less) and concurrent deficits or impairments in present adaptive functioning.

The intellectual disability must be diagnosed by a registered psychologist using DSM V.  

Pasifica woman with vision impairment is playing a guitar

Sensory disability

A person with sensory disability has the following types of long-term sensory impairments that are generally not responsive to treatment and affect independence in activities of daily living and/or mobility:

  • Blind, deaf, or deaf blind
  • Significant hearing impairment
  • Significant visual impairment
  • Includes people with chronic medical conditions who, following treatment and rehabilitation, have a sensory disability (that meets the above DSS sensory disability criteria) and require ongoing support primarily due to this sensory disability.
Young adult woman chilling out with small dog

Autism Spectrum 

Autism is known as being on a “spectrum”  because there is a wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience. We accept diagnosis from clinical psychologists, paediatricians or psychiatrists with expertise in autism using recognised standard processes such as the DSM IV or DSM V. This may or may not involve undergoing formal testing such as an ADOS assessment.

People with autism may have a delay or difficulty in the three areas of development:

  • Language skills. Understanding and using spoken language and non-verbal communication such as facial expressions and body language.
  • Social development. Challenges understanding social interactions which impacts on their ability to interact with others.
  • Cognitive and thinking. Challenges in thinking flexibly: there is a tendency to be hyper-focused and/or obsessive with elements of restrictive and/or repetitive behaviours.
  • Sensory. Difficulty managing their sensory input: they may over- or under-react to visual, tactile and aural input - sometimes to the point where they are unable to participate in typical day-to-day activities.


  • Personal health conditions or long-term chronic health conditions (eg reduced muscle strength due to respiratory or a heart condition). In these situations, refer to the DHB.
  • Mental health and addictions. For conditions like depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia and others are provided by DHBs.  
  • Learning challenges. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalcula are provided by DHBs or MOE. 
  • Disability support needs must not be related to or have origins of an accident or injury. In these situations, refer to ACC.
  • People with standalone sensory impairments such as hypersensitivity or perceptual impairments (eg auditory processing disorder).
  • People with no disability who require supports for conditions in their palliative stage. In these situations, please refer to the DHB.
  • People who need support around Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, unless the person has a coexisting disability that meets DSS eligibility criteria (eg intellectual disability).