CliniKids, the first stand-alone clinical service offered by the Telethon Kids Institute, was launched in October 2019 and is already delivering benefits for families with children who are developing differently.
When Professor Andrew Whitehouse returned to Perth from Oxford University in 2009, he brought with him a dream – to bring together the best clinical training, brilliant scientists, and a local community that is passionate and thirsty for innovation, to create a world-leading service to support children with autism.
A decade on, that dream was realised with the launch of CliniKids, the first stand-alone clinical service offered by the Telethon Kids Institute.
CliniKids is all about putting research into practice – bringing proven treatments from around the globe to families with children who are developing differently.
As Director of CliniKids, Telethon Kids Institute Angela Wright Bennett Chair of Autism Research Professor Whitehouse said he was proud the one-of-a-kind service was already delivering benefits to kids and families.
“At CliniKids, babies and children with autism and developmental delay have access to world-first therapies and interventions backed by the latest research,” Professor Whitehouse said.
“Traditionally there’s been a 15-year lag for new research to be put into clinical practice. We’re not satisfied with the status quo and CliniKids is the meeting place of cutting-edge science and clinical innovation that will change this forever.
CliniKids supports children from as young as six months old in a bespoke, state-of-the-art clinic designed specifically to meet the needs of children with autism spectrum disorder.
The team of clinicians includes speech pathologists, occupational therapists and clinical psychologists who work in collaboration with researchers and families to not only deliver individual evidence-based therapy, but to also co-develop new therapies based on the unique combination of clinical, scientific and lived expertise.
Professor Whitehouse said integrating research with clinical practice within a research institute was a new approach for Telethon Kids, but one that allowed the team to push the boundaries and ask the tough questions.
“This unique integration where practitioners, researchers and families can bring together their combination of clinical, scientific and lived expertise is truly world-class and allows us to find out how we can provide improved opportunities for kids to reach their potential,” he said.
“And the clinic is unique in that it provides a base for research that continues to improve evidence and knowledge.”
- Telehealth Services will offer an extension of CliniKids’ services into remote and regional areas.
- Support groups for parents/carers and siblings will be offered at CliniKids, and training for the community will be expanded.
- CliniKids will be expanding to offer movement services in the future.
- Down the track, the CliniKids model could be expanded into other clinical services that are closely linked to research.
A week before her first birthday, Florence’s parents Sarah and Tristan took her to a paediatrician, as she wasn’t making eye contact and was exhibiting signs of early speech and social communication delay.
At twelve months of age, her communication skills were consistent with the developmental age of a five-month-old – a possible early indicator of autism spectrum disorder.
The day after Florence’s first birthday, the paediatrician diagnosed her with global developmental delay and referred her to CliniKids for early intervention services.
“From my very first phone call to CliniKids I felt supported by the staff,” Sarah said.
We were new to therapies and to the NDIS but the staff at CliniKids were all so welcoming. They never made me feel like my questions were silly or too hard to answer.
“CliniKids is such a calming space for Florence and the facilities are second to none. Being able to better understand and connect to Florence has had such a positive impact on our whole family.”
With a holistic model of care and a whole family approach, the CliniKids team have provided personalised, individualised therapy for Florence and ongoing support to Sarah and Tristan.
Sarah and Tristan's Story
New interventions offered at CliniKids, such as PACT and JASPER, have been internationally proven to assist children with their social communication skills.
PACT is uniquely designed to help parents of young children, aged 2 to 6 years, to communicate more effectively with their child. Through play and natural interactions, parents learn individual strategies to support their child’s social communication.
JASPER is new to CliniKids in 2020 and is designed for preschool and school-aged children. The therapy uses behavioural principles and naturalistic strategies to teach children the skills that lay the foundations for social communication.