As parents commenced home schooling in line with COVID-19 restrictions put in place earlier this year, Hunter Children's Psychology saw an increase in the number of referrals to the service.
Hunter Children's Psychology Director and clinical psychologist Dr Natasha Dafo said the referrals were particularly for the assessment of learning and attention difficulties.
"Home schooling allowed parents the opportunity to closely observe their child's learning and reading abilities, with some parents becoming quite concerned about their child's academic ability and attitude towards learning," she said.
Hunter Children's Psychology provides counselling and psychological assessment of children up to the age of 16 years.
The assessments offered include those for autism, ADHD and behaviour, learning and achievement, development, and cognitive (IQ).
Some indicators leading to an assessment may be academic or learning concerns, attention difficulties, disruptive behaviour, motor skill difficulties, a progressively worsening attitude towards school and/or failure to learn basic intellectual, social or behavioural skills, Dr Dafo said.
I feel very strongly about supporting children to achieve their full potential.
While a referral was not necessary to undertake an assessment, Dr Dafo said it was preferable that the child's difficulties were first discussed with their GP or paediatrician.
"A comprehensive referral can be helpful in providing relevant clinical information that will assist the assessment proces," she said.
For counselling, families can obtain a Mental Health Care Plan from their GP, which can help to reduce out of pocket costs for up to ten sessions per calendar year.
Despite having extensive experience in working across the lifespan, Dr Dafo has always been particularly interested in working with children and their families.
"I feel very strongly about supporting children and their families to achieve their full potential and to thrive," she said.
"I assist families in identifying challenges that their child may be experiencing with respect to development, learning, behaviour, social skills and attention, and to facilitate the most appropriate ongoing support for their child.
"It is a privilege for me to work with the future of our community and to advocate for the needs and rights of our young people."