McCusker Centre for Citizenship intern uses maths to help diagnose childhood illnesses

UWA Science student Emily Low has created an online questionnaire to make early diagnosis of childhood Autism, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder and Global Developmental Delay more efficient.

Emily worked with PATCHES Paediatrics as part of her 100-hour McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship this year and was tasked with helping to create a new patient referral system and making some of the organisation’s administration processes more efficient.

Emily says she applied for a McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship because she wanted to learn things she couldn’t learn in a lecture theatre and to help others. Her internship taught her to apply the knowledge she’d learned through her studies to make a real difference for the PATCHES team.

“During my internship I learnt how important early diagnosis of Autism, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder and Global Developmental Delay is for kids and their families – it opens doors to treatment and funding,” Emily says.

“My project had two parts to it. The first was to spend time with the kids that attended PATCHES’ clinics and help the paediatricians, psychologists and speech pathologists that saw them.”

“The second was to help to revamp their referrals system. I assisted in the creation of an online questionnaire that matches the kids’ behaviours and characteristics to Autism, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder or Global Developmental Delay. Some of the things I’ve studied in Maths helped me develop the questionnaire, which allows the administration to allocate kids to the specific clinic that can meet their needs.”

Emily hopes her work will make life easier for PATCHES’ administration staff.

“With the old system, referrals were handwritten and transcribed into Excel by the staff and often they were incomplete,” she says. “Now the online questionnaire collates all this information into a spreadsheet for them. Because PATCHES is looking to expand their reach, this will give them greater opportunity to do so in a manageable way.”

If you’d like to make a real impact through an internship with a community or not-for-profit organisation? Apply for a Semester 1 McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship!