Child development services at The Children's Hospital at Westmead

Contact details

Phone: (02) 9845 2395
Email: SCHN-CDU@health.nsw.gov.au

Child Development Unit

The Child Development Unit provides comprehensive multidisciplinary care to children with complex developmental problems.

Special Interests Developmental Disorders are treated, such as severe language impairment, autism, neurodevelopmental disorders associated with medical conditions requiring neuropsychological assessment and complex learning difficulties associated with comorbidity.

We work collaboratively with the NSW Department of Education and Communities and the Department of Health to resource and support the NSW Centre for Effective Reading (CER).

CER is a service for rural and remote primary-aged students with significant delays in literacy and involves diagnosis and assessment, literacy intervention, resourcing of staff and has a focus on research and development.

Child Development unit

  • Where: Children's Assessment Centre, Level 3 Outpatient Building
  • When: Monday to Friday from 8am to 4:30pm

Referrals and appointments

Please see your managing paediatrician for a referral. Unfortunately, we can't make an appointment for you and your child without a referral.

The referral needs to include the following information:

  • A letter addressed to a consultant listed below
  • A clear statement of goals of assessment
  • Any previous primary and secondary services information /reports
  • The completed CDU referral form (2019).

Referral enquiries can be discussed with the Intake Officer. Please call 9845 2395.

Unfortunately, we can't accept phone referrals.

Appointments are made once the intake details, appropriateness, and priority are assessed. 

PECAT (Early Childhood Assessment Team)

The Parramatta Early Childhood Assessment Team (PECAT) provides a multidisciplinary, diagnostic and assessment service for children under six years of age who are not at school. Developmental, intellectual, functional and health assessments are conducted for children who have, or are suspected of having, a global developmental delay or intellectual disability.

PECAT is a tertiary service for individuals who live in Western Sydney, as defined by the Parramatta, Holroyd, Auburn, Blacktown and Hills Local Government Areas.

The service is operated by The Children's Hospital at Westmead and aims to:

  • Identify factors which may have an impact on a child's development and functioning
  • Recognise and diagnose disorders such as autism
  • Document a child's level of development emphasising both areas of strength as well as areas of difficulty
  • Help the client, family and other professionals in the planning of interventions and services
  • Consult to the client/family for health, development or behavioural concerns related to the disability
  • Provide support throughout the process of assessment and diagnosis

Location: Auburn Community Health Centre, Norval Street (corner Hevington Road), Auburn.
Phone: (02) 9891 7200
Hours: 9 am-4 pm, Monday to Friday
Email: SCHN-PECAT@health.nsw.gov.au 

Referrals

PECAT has no fax number so referrals are preferred via email or post

The referral should come from a Paediatrician, and needs to include the following information:

  • A letter addressed to Dr Gillian Brooks
  • Contact details for parents including name, phone and email
  • A clear outline of the concern and reason for referral
  • Any additional relevant documents.

Forms and resources

Doctors

A/Prof Natalie Silove

Qualifications: MMBCh, MMed, FRCP (SA) FRACP Clinical Associate Professor in the discipline of paediatrics and child health, University of Sydney and Senior Lecturer (conjoint) at the School of Psychiatry (UNSW).

Clinical area and type of work: Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrics

Years of experience: 30 years in Paediatrics

Particular interests: All developmental disorders including, autism spectrum disorders, complex learning difficulties, ADHD and rarer genetic disorders e.g. Fragile X. She is a strong advocate for collaboration on an individual and organizational level and focuses on making intervention and supports meaningful and evidence based in order to maximize the potential of the individual.

Dr Natalie Ong

Qualifications: MBBS (Melb), MRCPCH (UK), FAMS (Sing), FRACP (Aust), MClinEd (Flinders). Clinical Academic in the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, the University of Sydney and Conjoint Lecturer, School of Women and Children’s Health, UNSW.

Clinical area and type of work: Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrics, Developmental Disability Health, Community Paediatrics. Multidisciplinary assessments of children and adolescents with a range of developmental presentations. Natalie has worked in developmental paediatrics for over 15 years with experience in diagnosing and managing a range of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Years of experience: 20 years in Paediatrics

Particular interests: Natalie's areas of interest include developmental disability and autism, clinical education, service improvement, upskilling staff in developmental disability.

Dr Beverley Bennett

Qualifications: BSc (Hons), MBBS, FRACP (Community Child Health)

Clinical area and type of work: Developmental and Behavioural Paediatrics and Deafness/Hard of hearing. Beverley has experience in diagnosing and managing developmental disorders including autism spectrum disorders, complex learning difficulties and ADHD. Beverley’s clinical work in the Deafness Centre includes investigating the aetiology of hearing loss and review of progress, assessment in microtia and diagnostic assessment in a multidisciplinary setting.

Years of experience: 20 years in Paediatrics

Particular interests: Beverley’s special interests in include medical education, Neurodevelopmental disability, Deafness/hearing loss and microtia. Beverley coordinates the Microtia clinic and has clinics at the Deafness Centre. Beverley is also involved in post graduate teaching for paediatric trainees and general practitioners.

Neuropsychologists

Antionette Hodge

Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts Honours; Master of Clinical Neuropsychology; Doctor of Psychology

Clinical area and type of work: Antoinette is a Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist at the Child Development Unit. She has previously worked in child and adolescent mental health at Redbank House and Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney. She lectures at University of NSW, University of Sydney and Macquarie University. She has over 40 publications. She provides supervision of post graduate students in neuropsychology and autism spectrum disorder as well as Clinical Neuropsychology registrars.

Years of experience: Antoinette has worked as a Clinical Neuropsychologist for over 22 years.

Particular interests: Clinical and research interests include autism spectrum disorder, specific learning disorder, psychosis, youth mental health, cognitive training

Alicia de Vries

Qualifications: Bachelor of Psychology (Honours); Master of Clinical Neuropsychology

Clinical area and type of work: Alicia is a Clinical Neuropsychologist who works within a multidisciplinary team

Years of experience: 7 years as a Paediatric Clinical Neuropsychologist in hospital setting and private practice.

Particular interests:Alicia has specific clinical interest in cognitive impairments associated with developmental conditions, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, learning difficulties, children mental health and difficulties associated with neglect children in out of home care.

Chelvi Ganesalingam

Qualifications: BSc Hons (First Class), MClinNeuropsy, PhD

Clinical area and type of work: Chelvi is a Clinical Neuropsychologist who is currently involved in multidisciplinary diagnostic assessments of neurodevelopmental disorders including but not limited to intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, specific learning disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. She is a Fellow of the College of Clinical Neuropsychologists, Australian Psychological Association and AHPRA/Board-approved supervisor of clinical neuropsychology postgraduate students and registrars. Chelvi is also a Conjoint Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales and is published in peer-reviewed journals.

Years of experience: Over 15 years in paediatric neuropsychology across hospital and university settings.

Particular interests: Clinical and research interest in the complex relations among neurocognitive deficits, learning difficulty and mental health symptomatology in the context of neurodevelopmental, medical, genetic, and neurological conditions. She has expertise in research methodology and Multivariate Data Analysis.

Jane Cramsie 

 

Qualifications: BSc(Psych), MClin(Neuropsych)

Clinical area and type of work: Jane is a clinical neuropsychologist who currently works as part of a multidisciplinary team, completing diagnostic and neuropsychological assessments with children of all ages.

Years of experience: Over 17 years’ experience across paediatric and adult public health settings, non-government agencies and in private practice.

Particular interests: Assessment and advocacy for children with complex cognitive and learning issues related to neurological, developmental and medical conditions, including autism, ADHD, epilepsy, childhood cancer, and genetic conditions.

 

 

Allied Health specialists

Diana Barnett

Qualifications: B App Sc in Occupational Therapy

Clinical area and type of work: Diana has gained specialist skills in the assessment of developmental and functional skills as well as in providing therapy intervention for children who have a broad range of developmental diagnosis and disabilities.

Years of experience: Over 25 years of clinical experience working within the paediatric hospital setting.

Particular interests: Assisting families to understand their child’s strengths and area of difficulties to enable carers to seek the most appropriate support and intervention for their child. Diana aims to assist the child to feel comfortable within the clinical environment in order to gain a good understanding of their developmental, communication and functional skills.

Rebecca Sutherland

Qualifications: B. Speech Pathology (Hons); Master of Health Sciences (Developmental Disability); PhD

Clinical area and type of work: Rebecca is a speech pathologist whose current work involves multidisciplinary team assessment and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, developmental assessments for young children and assessment of a range of communication skills in children of all ages. She has worked previously for Autism Spectrum Australia, Positive Partnerships and for the Autism Centre of Excellence at Griffith University. Rebecca is currently also a lecturer in speech pathology for the University of Canberra. 

Years of experience: Rebecca has worked as a speech pathologist for more than 20 years across a range of roles. 

Particular interests: Areas of interest for both clinical work and research include the use of telehealth to provide speech pathology services, the experiences of girls diagnosed with autism, early communication development, augmentative communication (AAC) and working with families.

Suzi Drevensek

Qualifications: BApp Sc (Speech Pathology) Hons 1; BSc

Clinical area and type of work: Suzi has worked with children of all ages in different settings: tertiary hospital, community health, private practice and university clinics. She currently works in multidisciplinary teams and provides services to children with speech and language difficulties associated with complex medical or literacy issues, as well as supporting their families and schools.

Particular interests: Working with children with complex medical and developmental disorders associated with brain injury, genetic and developmental disorders, and literacy difficulties; clinical education; and research.

Marcia Williamsz

Qualifications: B.App.Sc. (Speech Pathology), M.A. (English and Linguistics)

Clinical area and type of work: Marcia works with children and adolescents within a multidisciplinary diagnostic assessment team providing assessment and intervention guidance for families and their children who have complex medical, communication and learning profiles. She adjusts test administration and the testing environment to best match each child and their family’s needs and to enable a better understanding of a child’s strengths and needs for intervention. 

Years of experience: Marcia has over 30 years of experience working across a range of settings including schools, specialist schools and units, specialist clinics, hospital, clinical education, and private practice. She provides comprehensive diagnostic assessments, intervention, advocacy and support for children and their families, and professional development and presentations. 

Particular interests: Language Disorder/Developmental Language Disorder, Learning and Literacy and a range of developmental disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorder and Fragile X Syndrome.

Clinical Nurse Consultant

Gail Tomsic

Qualification: Clinical Nurse Consultant, Degree in Nursing

Clinical area and type of work: Gail has nursing experience in paediatric developmental disability, community paediatric nursing, hospital in the home, child & family health and nursing management. Gail has practiced in wide variety of settings including hospital paediatric units, parentcraft residential units, and in home nursing to both acute and chronic children discharged from hospital to home.

Years of experience: 29 years in nursing, and senior nursing positions for the past 25 years; Clinical Nurse Consultant (CNC) in a Grade 2 and 3 and as a Nurse Unit Manager.

Particular interests: Developmental Disability, Nursing management and education

Research: Gail has contributed to a number of publications and book chapters and involved in clinical guidelines and pathways

Social work

Angela Papanicolaou

Qualifications: B Social work, Ass Dip of Social Science in Disability Studies.

Clinical area and type of work: Angela has clinical experience working within a multidisciplinary diagnostic assessment team providing support throughout the process and intervention guidance for families and their children who have complex developmental conditions such as intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder and ADHD.

Years of experience: Angela has worked as a Social Worker for 20 years.

Particular interests: Paediatric developmental disorders and disability, including intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorder. It is a privilege to have families share their life stories and assisting them to build capacity within a complex social service network.