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April 2019

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Northern Health occupational therapist Beth Kozaris, paediatrician Jolene Fraser, clinical psychologist Michelle Rowland, project officer and speech pathologist Amanda Lees and paediatric fellow Graham Barrington.

Autism clinic to service outer northern suburbs

A Northern Health program will improve outcomes for Victorians with autism.

The advancing practice in allied health workforce in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) project is funded by a Department of Health and Human Services grant.

The grant program follows a two-year Parliamentary inquiry into services for people with autism, providing 101 recommendations to improve existing systems.

Before the grant, Northern Health did not provide a multidisciplinary ASD diagnostic service and families had to be referred by a paediatrician to other ASD diagnostic services.

The grant enabled the launch of the Northern autism spectrum disorder assessment clinic (NASDAC) at Craigieburn Centre.

The clinic has a paediatrician, speech pathologist, occupational therapist and psychologist.

‘Assessment for ASD is important so it can assist with parent and teacher understanding of a child’s abilities and difficulties,’ said speech pathologist and project officer of the initiative Amanda Lees.

‘It can help inform decisions about therapy and allow the family to access some Medicare options for extra assistance.’

The project will help improve the pathway from referral to diagnosis, upskill Northern Health’s allied health workforce and enable the delivery of a multidisciplinary ASD assessment for the children and families in the outer north of Melbourne.

‘Our objective is to ensure we provide the right care, co-ordinated with the right people and link children with suspected ASD and their families into the most appropriate services in a timely manner,’ Ms Lees said.