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Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment Clinic launches at Craigieburn

In July last year, Paediatric Allied Health, in collaboration with Paediatrics, were successful in obtaining a Department of Health and Human Services Grant entitled Advancing Practice in Allied Health Workforce in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The aim of the program is to improve outcomes for Victorians with Autism, and encouraged applications for projects that support practitioners to work to their full scope of practice in a multidisciplinary and innovative way.

The grant program came about, due to a two year parliamentary inquiry into services for people with Autism, providing 101 recommendations to improve the serious shortcomings identified within our existing systems.

Prior to the grant, Northern Health did not provide a multidisciplinary ASD diagnostic service, and families had to be referred by a paediatrician to either Austin Health or Royal Children’s Hospital, as these are the closest public health ASD diagnostic services.

The grant money received has enabled funding for a project officer role, training for staff, and resources such as the Autism Diagnostic Observational Schedule (ADOS-2), to support the launch of Northern Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment Clinic (NASDAC) at Craigieburn Centre. The project will run for 18 months, finishing in December 2019, with the aim for NASDAC to continue beyond the completion of the grant.

The clinic, launched on 1 March 2019, will run every Friday at Craigieburn Centre with the involvement of a Paediatrician, Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist and Psychologist.

Speech Pathologist and Project Officer of this initiative, Amanda Lees, says, “assessment for ASD is important so it can assist parents’ and teacher’s understanding of a child’s abilities and difficulties; it can help inform decisions about therapy; it can allow the family to access some Medicare options for extra assistance, and can support an application for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and Department of Education support.”

This project will help to improve the pathway from referral to diagnosis, upskill our Allied Health workforce and enable Northern Health to deliver a Multidisciplinary ASD assessment for the children and families in the outer north of Melbourne.

On a final note, Amanda says, “our objective is to ensure that we provide the right care, coordinated with the right people, and link children with suspected ASD and their families into the most appropriate services in a timely manner.”

For more information about the clinic, please click here or email NASDAC@nh.org.au.

Photo left to right: Beth Kozaris (Occupational Therapist), Jolene Fraser (Paediatrician), Michelle Rowland (Clinical Psychologist), Amanda Lees (Project Officer and Speech Pathologist) and Graham Barrington (Paediatric Fellow).