An Update on the Autism CRC Longitudinal Study of School Leavers with Autism

Teenagers talking at lockers

By Associate Professor Amanda Richdale

To date, there has been relatively little research focused on adolescents and adults with autism, making this project a very important one. Our primary goal is to find out what happens with young people on the autism spectrum and their families as these young people transition into adult life. We want to identify outcomes for young people and their families, and understand what predicts these outcomes so that in the future, better, well-timed and individually tailored supports can be provided to maximize positive outcomes. Continue reading

A wedding gift that gives twice

Bride and Groom with Son

Jaclyn and Dean Alburey asked their wedding guests to donate to OTARC research

When Jaclyn Alburey planned her spring wedding this year, she knew that she didn’t want traditional gifts. Instead she encouraged her 50 guests to donate funds for research at OTARC.

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Farewell from Elfriede


After 8 years of very eventful and exciting employment at the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, I have finally decided to retire from paid work 3 days a week and start a new, hopefully a quieter, part of my life in 2017. Note, I am saying ‘retire from paid work’, as I hope to continue working for OTARC in a voluntary capacity from time to time, as well as engage in other types of activities, that could be classified as ‘work’.

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Farewell from Lisbeth


I came to work with Professor Cheryl Dissanayake in April 2008 in preparation for the opening of the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) in June 2008. It was an exciting time as I found my place within the wider La Trobe University community.

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Ask a researcher – Teens in Transition

Woman and younger man at a computer

My son completed high school last year but was only recently been assessed with ASD. He has absolutely no idea what to do next. University does not seem an option. Any suggestions?

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Director’s report – Summer 2016

Welcome to the Summer edition of Another Piece!

Our first appointment at OTARC was Dr Elfriede Ihsen, a long-time colleague and developmental psychologist. Soon after she joined us, Lisbeth Wilks, our Administrative Officer, joined as well. Lisbeth has had responsibility, amongst other things, for delivering our quarterly newsletter, Another Piece, to you, our readers and supporters. Together we worked to establish the Centre and successfully launch it in mid-2008. Elfriede and Lisbeth have been the backbone of much of what we do at OTARC. Both will retire this year, and I would like to acknowledge their dedication and generous contributions to OTARC over many years. Continue reading

Visitors to the Centre – September to December 2016


Jonathon Dellafield-Butt

Professor Jonathon Delafield–Butt, Senior Lecturer in Early Years at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, presented at a special OTARC seminar.


Jeffrey Craig

Associate Professor Jeffrey Craig, Honorary Principal Research Fellow at the Early Life Epigenetics, Environmental and Genetic Epidemiology Research Group at the University of Melbourne, and Deputy Director, Australian Twin Registry, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute visited with Professor Cheryl Dissanayake.



Stephen Bigarelli and various OTARC and La Trobe staff

Mr Stephen Bigarelli, Chairman of the Apex Foundation visited the ASELCC (Vic) and OTARC.


Ms Maree Edwards (Chair) MLA for Bendigo West, Ms Cindy McLeish (Deputy Chair) MLA for Eildon,

Members of the Family and Community Development Committee for the Parliamentary Enquiry into Autism (Victorian State Government) visited the ASELCC and the OTARC to learn about early identification and diagnosis of autism and our Early Assessment Clinic, as well as about early intervention and the ESDM. The group included (left) Ms Maree Edwards (Chair) MLA for Bendigo West, (right) Ms Cindy McLeish (Deputy Chair) MLA for Eildon, and three Departmental staff.


Jay Buzhardt

Dr Jay Buzhardt, Associate Research Professor, Life Span Institute, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, Kansas City, USA, presented at the OTARC October seminar.



Dr Emma Sciberras, Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer in Psychology at Deakin University and Honorary Research Fellow at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, presented at the OTARC November seminar.

Anne Carson, a Melbourne-based writer and visual artist and a Board member of ONDRU, an independent non-profit Arts organisation, visited and discussed opportunities for collaboration with Dr Elfriede Ihsen.


Sarah Hardy, Chief Executive Officer, Menzies Foundation, came to a meeting with Dr Josephine Barbaro.

María Magán Maganto,PhD candidate from
Grupo Infoautismo, Universidad de Salamanca, Spain, met with Dr Josephine Barbaro and Professor Cheryl Dissanayake to discuss opportunities for research collarboration.