I trained in the United Kingdom and worked with Dr Tony Cull as he set up the neonatal intensive care and neonatal retrieval services for the Waikato, New Zealand region in 1977. In 1982, I moved to Thames in the Coromandel. I had local outpatient clinics in the small-town cottage hospitals and saw children at home and in school alongside the local Public Health Nurses.
In 1984, there was no funding for education of pre-schoolers with special needs. With the help of CCS Disability Action and the IHC New Zealand, I set up the Hauraki KIDS charity. Hauraki KIDS funds home educators and helps parents enact their children’s plans. It continues to fund those items or hours that are not state funded but deemed optimal by therapists.
I first diagnosed a person with autism in 1984. The Hauraki Child and Youth Protection Services team first met in 1989. After the teachers were given screening information, I was able to diagnose 20 people with autism by 2000. I had no training in Child Psychiatry. I found it difficult to differentiate between genetic Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder post child abuse. Finding appropriate behavioural treatment for them was challenging.
I felt rewarded when I met Giles Bates as a consultant and he told me he had chosen Paediatrics as a speciality after being my house surgeon. I will always be grateful to Professor Ed Mitchell for asking me to take part in the New Zealand Cot Death Study. I learned a lot from his thoughtful preparation of the questionnaire.
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