Thirteen senior Psychology students and three supervisors will dedicate the month of November to conducting 26 assessments on clients from as far afield as Warren and Coffs Harbour. Some have been waiting since March, when the coronavirus pandemic put paid to face-to-face consultations.
"This testing is very important for children who have a learning difficulty or impairment because the sooner they can get an accurate diagnosis, the sooner they can get adequate support from teacher's aides in their schools," UNE Psychology Clinic director Dr Amanda Jefferys said. "We've never worked this way before, but dedicating the month means we can clear our waiting list."
The UNE clinic has become an epicentre for the cognitive testing of children from early childhood to adolescence, attracting referrals from school psychologists throughout the far north-west and New England region, and coastal centres south to Newcastle.
"We offer highly professional, cost-effective testing and reporting for a range of neuro-psychological conditions, learning development issues and children on the autism spectrum," Dr Jefferys said. "Our reporting enables students to be diagnosed and to receive the necessary support for their education. Many are in desperate need."
Each consultation includes an initial assessment of 2-2.5 hours, another four hours of thorough testing and a full day of report writing.
"It will be a phenomenal effort by students enrolled in our Clinical Masters program, who have spent most of the year working offsite doing Telehealth consultations," Dr Jefferys said. "Apart from the intensity of the testing, there is the added complexity of deep cleaning our clinical rooms and testing equipments, and staggering appointments, to meet COVID health regulations. There will be a lot happening behind the scenes, but we are very pleased to be filling this essential community role."