Making science real for all children

Research news
18 April 2018

The Deakin Child Study Centre yesterday launched new facilities to support its work in making a difference in the lives of children with neurodevelopmental challenges.

Children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental challenges such as autism and ADHD and their families can access the latest tools and research to help them thrive through Deakin University’s Deakin Child Study Centre (DCSC).

Located at Deakin’s Burwood Campus, the DCSC is a multi-disciplinary research centre committed to understanding neurodevelopment from childhood to adolescence and dedicated to working with the community to create inclusive environments for children of all abilities.

It is known for its innovative, national AllPlay project, which enables children with developmental challenges to access sport, dance and team activities and aims to make the community a safe and inclusive space for children of all abilities.

Researchers from the DCSC have also provided treatment targets for developing new neurological interventions, such as magnetic stimulation of the brain, and evidence-based interventions to help children with autism mange sleep problems
The Centre’s new neuroscience lab and purpose-built clinic were today officially opened by Ms Judith Graley MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Education.

The clinic has facilities for assessing and treating children with neurodevelopmental challenges, as well as rooms with two-way mirrors and teaching spaces for training the next generation of clinical psychologists.

DCSC Director Professor Nicole Rinehart said the key driver behind the Centre’s establishment in 2013 was “to join the dots and make science real for children”.

“In the year I graduated as a PhD, I remember a pivotal moment when I read that it takes 17 years to turn 14 per cent of original research into interventions that benefit patient care,” she said.

“Fast forward another 10 years and in the clinic I was confronted with the reality of how true this was. The same advice, the same interventions, and the same barriers existed, year after year, for children with neurodevelopmental challenges. Nothing was changing – despite the billions of research dollars going into this area. There was a grand canyon between research and actually changing the lives of children.

“The question was how we as researchers could use original research to make a difference to patient care more quickly than 17 years.”

Professor Rinehart said the solution was to create a new platform that brought together peak bodies in government, industry, philanthropy and the community.

“The DCSC combines research, clinical expertise and technology with the right partners to create evidenced-based, accessible and innovative resources.

“We’re developing strong and confident multidisciplinary teams, working on a variety of projects with the aim of achieving our broader vision – making a real difference in the lives of children who face neurodevelopmental challenges,” she said.

The DCSC is organised around three pillars that enable researchers to stage their work from “what matters” to “what works” and “what translates”.

“What matters” covers child neuroscience and assessment, “what works” develops evidence-based interventions and “what translates” ensures all children, regardless of developmental challenge, have the same access to education, physical activity and other community participation.

“It took the recently crowned ‘Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year’ Manny Stul, founder and CEO of our partner Moose Toys, exactly ten minutes to understand that this was a unique platform and way forward for child research,” Professor Rinehart said.

“We work with the grass roots community and include the voices of children and parents who live with developmental disability, and then wrap the mighty research engine of neuroscience and clinical trials around them to create resources that are so simple and accessible to the community that the barriers that once stood in the way of these children disappear.”

Professor Rinehart thanked Moose Toys, the National Disability Insurance Agency, Ferrero, the Australian Football League, Jonathan and Simone Wenig, the Geelong Community Foundation and MECCA Brands for providing DCSC with “essential and life changing funding”.

By Deakin Research

For all media enquiries please contact Deakin’s media team.

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Parliamentary Secretary for Education Ms Judith Graley MP (left) and Professor Nicole Rinehart Deakin Child Study Centre Director

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Parliamentary Secretary for Education Ms Judith Graley MP (left) and Professor Nicole Rinehart Deakin Child Study Centre Director

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