The first two weeks in December (and several weeks before and after) were exceptionally busy weeks for OTARC. During these weeks we hosted the Menzies Foundation Symposium on ‘Shaping Futures’, the second biennial conference of the Australasian Society for Autism Research, various events of the Autism CRC, and a workshop on eye-tracking technology for ASD research. All of these events were free of charge for delegates. Many of the OTARC staff, students and volunteers were involved in the organization and running of these events in addition to their usual workloads.
Many people with ASD report problems with sleep, but most ASD sleep research to date has focused on children and adolescents, with only a few studies involving adults with ASD. We also know very little about which aspects of sleep are problematic; is it difficulties with going to sleep (sleep onset latency), staying asleep (total sleep time), frequent waking during the night (wake after sleep onset), or less total sleep. There is also very little research into how daytime functioning is affected in adults with ASD who sleep poorly. One of our students, Emma Baker, has therefore decided to study sleep problems and how they are related to daytime functioning in adults with ASD. Emma is studying for her PhD under the supervision of Associate Professor Amanda Richdale who is one of the international experts on sleep problems associated with ASD.
Watch this overview of the Victorian Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre (ASELCC). The Victorian ASELCC at La Trobe University is committed to addressing the needs of families of children with autism. At the same time, we are dedicated to follow up-to-date and evidence-based science in the treatment of autism, as well as undertake rigorous research into its effectiveness. . The early intervention program being researched and implemented is the Early Start Denver Model.
By Kristelle Hudry, La Trobe University
Since the condition was first recognised in the 1940s, parents have been and felt blamed for their children’s autism. Today, most people no longer believe this, but a lingering doubt continues to niggle many parents.
The Menzies Foundation Symposium: Shaping Futures will focus on recent advances in research and practice covering early detection, diagnosis, learning, and early intervention, for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Brought to you by Menzies Foundation together with Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) at La Trobe University, Shaping Futures will showcase renowned local and international researchers.
By Katherine Crea, Psychologist, OTARC Alumni
During my previous employment at the Australian Psychological Society on the early childhood mental health promotion, prevention, and early intervention initiative, KidsMatter Early Childhood, I developed a keen interest in the well-being of children under school age. I discovered that even during toddlerhood, some children begin to show signs of emotional and behavioral difficulties, including “acting out” difficulties such as aggression, and “holding in” difficulties such as excessive worry and anxiety. Whilst some children “grow out of” these difficulties, around 1 in 2 children do not seem to improve without intervention, and continue to show signs of difficulties when followed up in later years.
Dr Giacomo Vivanti & Professor Cheryl Dissanayake
Research underway for many years at La Trobe University has been supporting the very early identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders in infancy and toddlerhood with the view of promoting optimal development by access to early intervention. Recent research by Sally Rogers and her colleagues of the MIND Institute, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders this week describes the first controlled study documenting outcomes of infants with signs of autism who received treatment in their first year of life, well before the age at which autism is usually diagnosed.
OTARC PhD Research Candidate Cathy Bent used data from the national Helping Children with Autism Package to examine the age of diagnosis of 15,000 children aged under 7 years.
‘The statistics showed across Australia the average age of diagnosis for children with autism, who are younger than 7, is about 4 years of age; that less than 3% of children are diagnosed by 24 months; and the most frequently reported age of diagnosis is close to 6 years. Read more “Mapping Diagnoses in Australia”