CYHY is an 8 year old boy who has autism, social communication disorder, generalised anxiety disorder and ADHD.
CYHY’s mother requested that he be provided with an assistance dog from Smart Pups Assistance Dogs for Special Needs Children Inc. in exchange for a “donation” of $20,000 to be funded under the NDIS.
The NDIA rejected this support, and his mother appealed the decision at the AAT.
This week the AAT overturned this decision, finding that the support of an assistance dog is reasonable and necessary.
The Tribunal …accepts Dr Hazel’s evidence that an assistance dog may assist CYHY to improve his communication skills and to have fewer meltdowns. The Tribunal also accepts Dr Worth’s evidence … that an assistance animal would provide tremendous benefits to CYHY and is likely to result in fewer meltdowns and improved self-regulation.
Dr Worth’s evidence carries weight with the Tribunal because she has been treating CYHY since 2016 and has seen him every three to six months. Dr Worth was familiar with the individual characteristics of CYHY, including the observation that she made at the hearing that CYHY has a “profound intelligent interest in animals”. …
The Tribunal considers that the positive response of CYHY to date when receiving equine therapy is a good indication that he would benefit from and welcome an assistance dog living in his home on a permanent basis. …The Tribunal accepts the evidence given by CYHY’s mother and the reports prepared by his other medical and allied health treating professionals that animals are CYHY’s “happy place”.
Villamanta congratulates CYHY and his mother on this outcome, and recognises his mother’s commitment, tenacity and patience in this matter.
Speaking to Villamanta this week she said “this changes everything” and encouraged other people to challenge NDIS decisions they think are wrong. “It was a difficult decision, to go through with this, and exhausting. But I hope people can see from this outcome, that it can be worth it in the long run.”
She thanked Villamanta lawyer Stephen Grainger: “I’m so grateful for all his support through the early stages and then when it went further he found a barrister that took us on pro bono (John Gurr). They both did a fantastic job.”
Mr Grainger commented “I’m so very pleased that this decision means CYHY will have an opportunity to live his best life. This is the kind of outcome that we all hope for.”