Aspiring dancer thrives with Community Connections

Published On: 6 February 2024Categories: NDIS, News
With a passion for dance and a smile that lights up the room, Dakota is one determined young lady.

With the support from an occupational therapist, a psychologist, and a speech therapist, all funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Dakota can now read at a level more in line with her age.

“Last year I couldn’t read and this year I can properly read a book. And I got a ‘C’ on my maths test. I was very proud of myself,” Dakota said.

Being diagnosed with level 3 autism at the age of 8 came as an eye-opener to mum Steph, who says she felt useless watching her daughter struggle at school and social settings.

“Dakota found making friends difficult and it made her time in school hard and had an impact on her personally,” Steph Said.

Facing difficulties with everyday routines and dealing with frequent school suspensions, Dakota saw a paediatrician who diagnosed Dakota with autism and suggested applying for the NDIS.

Steph praised the NDIS for giving Dakota the opportunity to achieve her goals, because the family would never have been able to do it financially.

“It’s going to give Dakota the skills to be such a beautiful member of society later on down the track and give so much back to the community because she has these skills,” Steph said.

Community Connections were invaluable support

After discovering the joy of reading, Dakota is once again rekindling her passion for dance after a short break, using it to balance the mental and physical aspects of her condition and help make her “feel happy.”

Dakota has danced ballroom for 5 years and, with her dance partner, holds the Australian title across New Vogue, Standard and Latin American styles for her age group.

“It was through those Community Connections a dance social for people who live with disabilities that Dakota and her dance partner found each other and went on to become the best of friends,” Steph said.

Other supports such as the local council’s Active and Healthy Living Guide (an accessible active and lifestyle program offering free and low-cost activities), have been a stepping stone to finding other interests Dakota has outside of school and dance.

“We’ve tried a few different activities and found that yoga calmed Dakota down before going to bed. So, it was worth going to that 5:00pm session for the hour,” Steph said.

Without the support within her local community, Steph says she doesn’t know where her family would be.

“The connections within the community that we have made, ranging from free community supports to NDIS-funded therapies, have played a significant role in helping Dakota reach her goals,” Steph said.

“We have met with some autism groups on Facebook that have given Dakota the chance to make friends with likeminded people.”

Steph said it’s important for families to identify want the end goals to look like when plan setting so they’re getting the right supports.

“We were blessed with our first plan meeting because we had the information and knew what we wanted to achieve and were able to go, “these are the 3 key areas we want to work on”, Steph said.

“Our local area coordinator supported us in that they listened to what we had to say which meant we got the best out of our plan.

“Being heard with clear goals and the right supporting evidence meant that we were able to focus on the supports that we needed and everything almost to the ‘t’.

“Thanks to free community supports and funded NDIS supports Dakota has been able to hit her goals and is now expanding and adding more goals.”

Carers Queensland can support you to find out more about the NDIS, to apply for funding and to help you get started with the NDIS.

If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can help you identify and link to options for support in your community.

You can also contact Carers Queensland on 1300 999 636,,  or sign up to our LAC Connect app here.