Dr Cherie Green is now a trainer on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)

Dr Kristelle Hudry, Dr Cherie Green and PHD Candidate Emma Baker

Dr Kristelle Hudry, Dr Cherie Green and PHD Candidate Emma Baker celebrate Cherie’s new qualification as an ADOS trainer.

Congratulations to Dr Cherie Green, post-doctoral research fellow at the Melbourne Brain Centre (and former PhD student at OTARC) who is now a trainer on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). Continue reading

Could early infant screening and intervention help prevent autism?


Kristelle Hudry, La Trobe University and Andrew Whitehouse, University of Western Australia

Among the many available therapies and early interventions for children with autism, only a few are backed up with solid scientific evidence. But here’s some good news: recently, the quality of autism early intervention research has improved significantly.

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Children, teenagers and adult volunteers wanted

Research with a child







OTARC needs the help of children, teenagers and/or adults (with or without ASD) to volunteer for a practice assessment, to allow clinicians on the ADOS-2 course (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) to practice their new skills under supervision.  In thanks for your help, we can provide a short assessment report (if your child has an ASD) and a $20 Coles-Myer gift card.

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Research to help young people with ASD achieve better outcomes in adulthood

Longitudinal Study of School Leavers with Autism and their Famil

Our team from the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) led by Associate Professor Amanda Richdale is currently working on a longitudinal study looking at the transition of young people with and without autism from secondary education into higher education, vocational training and employment. This study is a part of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism CRC).

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Children with autism aren’t necessarily visual learners


There are genetic and behavioural differences among children with autism, as well as differences in response to treatment. Sergey Novikov/Shutterstock

David Trembath, Griffith University & OTARC Adjunct

Children with autism are often described as “visual learners” and said to “think in pictures”. Accordingly, teachers and therapists routinely prescribe picture-based communication systems in an effort to support their learning.

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Changes are coming to managing disability employment in Australia


Wojciech Nadachowski attended the recent Disability Employment Forum on 11th June at which Senator Mitch Fifield, Assistant Minister for Social Services, announced a Taskforce to develop a new Disability Employment Framework. The Taskforce is responsible for developing a new framework for 2018 and its work is vital in shaping the future of disability employment. The timing coincides with the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the end of contract period for the Disability Employment Services.

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Ask an Autism Researcher: Are Autism Assistance Dogs effective in supporting children with ASD?


Are Autism Assistance Dogs suitable for children of all ages?

When should an Autism Assistance Dog be introduced to a child with autism?

These questions, coupled with an increase in interest by families in acquiring a dog for their child and ASD researchers attempting to assess the effectiveness of dogs in support of a child and family. However, it is not yet possible to conclusively state that assistance dogs (also called service dogs) are effective companion for a child with ASD, let alone make recommendations as to the desired characteristics and training of dogs or suitable child and family characteristics (e.g., child age, level of functioning, behavioural issues; family type and dynamics). This is because the studies published to date have many limitations.

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Director’s Report – June 2015

Professor Cheryl Dissanayake MAPS Director, OTARC

Professor Cheryl Dissanayake
Director, OTARC

Welcome to our Winter edition of Another Piece!

This month we celebrate seven years at OTARC. I want to acknowledge and extend our heartfelt gratitude to Mrs Olga Tennison whose continued generosity supports our research programs.

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Conferences – March to June 2015


1-3 April

NEVILL, R., HEDLEY, D., FIELDS, N., WILKINS, J., MULICK, J., and BUTTER, E. (2015). “Comparisons of language profiles in toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Language Disorder, and developmental delay.” 2015 Gatlinburg Conference, New Orleans, LA (poster)

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IMFAR from a Students Perspective

OTARC Students Cathy Bent, Emma Baker and Megan Clark attended IMFAR 2015

OTARC Students Cathy Bent, Emma Baker and Megan Clark attended IMFAR 2015

By Megan Clark, PhD Candidate, OTARC

This year, the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) was held in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a young researcher and first time attendee, this proved to be an exciting opportunity both for networking with and learning from other students and experienced researchers in the field. One of the many highlights was the keynote address from Professor Sally Rogers, providing a reflection on 50 years of early intervention science. The Early Start Denver Model was also introduced as an emerging early intervention program promoting positive outcomes for many children with ASD. The range of topics covered over the three days was vast, ranging from studies investigating cognition, language development and attention in ASD, medical and psychiatric co-morbidities, repetitive behaviours and interests, genetics and social development. The panel sessions and poster presentations also covered stages of the lifespan, from early development to adult outcomes. This ensured all researchers could be exposed to an array of topics in line with and outside of their own research interests.

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