Dr Kristelle Hudry, Dr Giacomo Vivanti, Dr John McEachin discuss the development and trends of research into early intervention. Topics covered include the neurodiversity v intervention debate, barriers to research into interventions: historical tendency to prefer high functioning autism, lack of understanding about how children learn, lack of sector accepting evidence of research, general lack of scientific culture, priorities of research funders, the problems of randomised control trials as best practice scientific design.
Watch ‘Inside the Lab’ episode 4 on YouTube here.
Dr Josephine Barbaro’s research on the early detection of autism has received significant media coverage lately. This is a groundbreaking program that is transforming the early identification of autism in Australia and parts of the world.
Watch Dr. Barbaro explain how the Social Attention and Communication Surveillance (SACS) program works and why it is important to identify at an early age.
Studies at OTARC and elsewhere have shown that infants and toddlers show early signs of ASD, which can be observed from the first year of life. These are first characterized by a lack of attention to social stimuli, and usually progress into clearer ASD symptoms throughout toddlerhood and the pre-school years (Clifford & Dissanayake, 2008). Similarly, studies investigating the early development of restricted and repetitive behaviours (RRBs) in children with an ASD have highlighted that certain RRBs are present in toddlerhood, with others becoming more evident over time (Leekam et al., 2011). These early symptoms are now used for the early identification of ASD in infants and toddlers.
I have a 6-year-old daughter who has been diagnosed with ASD. I have received many recommendations from other parents regarding the use of melatonin to aid my daughter’s sleep. She is a typical ASD kid, who can be in bed by 8pm after the shower, reading, drink routine, but still active 3 hours later. Any advice you have would be appreciated.
Report by Dr Kristelle Hudry
August 2013 saw the beginning of a very exciting new development. Drawing on the expertise of OTARC researchers, PSY3ASD: Understanding and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders was launched through La Trobe University’s School of Psychological Science. This is the first, undergraduate semester-long subject dedicated to ASD in Australia. The vision of Prof. Cheryl Dissanayake, PSY3ASD was developed and coordinated by Dr Kristelle Hudry. Lectures were taught by various members of our team of OTARC researchers and staff – Dr Josephine Barbaro, Dr Giacomo Vivanti, Dr Cherie Green, Associate Professor Amanda Richdale, and Dr Nancy Sadka, as well as Professor Dissanayake and Dr Hudry – with support from other La Trobe staff and postgraduate students with interest and expertise in ASDs. Lectures were delivered to 340 students. These originated from La Trobe’s Bundoora campus in Melbourne, with video-conferencing to students at La Trobe’s Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga campuses. Fortnightly tutorials were facilitated by OTARC postgraduate students Lisa Rumney and Heather Nuske in Melbourne, by Tim Godber in Bendigo, and by Dr Sharon Hanna in Albury-Wodonga. Students from various disciplines, including Psychological Science, Occupational Therapy, Health Science, Law and education, were enrolled in this new subject.
Professor Cheryl Dissanayake, Dr Josephine Barbaro and Associate Professor Chongying Wang discuss Autism in China. Episode 3: Tuesday 26th November: the state of autism in China, pilot implementation of of early identification using Social Attention and Communication Study (SACS), comparing SACS (surveillance) with M-CHAT and CHAT-23 (screening), training medical professionals in Tianjin, the future government Implementation of SACS in Tianjin, tension between research in developing and developed world, translation of diagnostic and assessment tools into Chinese, influence of cultural differences and one child policy on identification, necessity for public awareness, the need for early intervention, telehealth approaches to intervention, the need for Global Knowledge Transfer.
Watch ‘Inside the Lab’ episode 3 on YouTube here.
Dr Kristelle Hudry, Ms Amanda Golding and Professor Ann Le Couteur discuss recent news and developments in Autism research. topic covered include the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), Autism Research Policy Hub in Cardiff, issues facing adults, stakeholder driven research, Autism CRC, database for children with autism spectrum disorder living in the north east of England.
Watch ‘Inside the Lab’ episode 2 on YouTube here.
By Dr Josephine Barbaro, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at OTARC and ASD Specialist in Australia’s first Early Assessment Clinic for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Since beginning research on the early identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders back in 2005 as part of my PhD program, the Social Attention and Communication Study (SACS), I was often asked “What’s the point of identifying children at 2 years of age or younger if there are very few or no services for them?” You see, back in 2005, there wasn’t the Helping Children with Autism Package for families of children on the spectrum (aged 0 – 7), or intervention programs like the Early Start Denver Model – the first intervention model with strong empirical evidence for its effectiveness in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with ASDs. So, at this time, many families had to wait on long waiting lists for early intervention services, as long as 18 months in some cases, to receive a few hours a week of services! It was therefore difficult to convince some people, both in the public and private sectors, of the importance of early detection and subsequent intervention.
My daughter has just turned 8 and is severely affected by classic autism. She is non-verbal. Recently she had a fever and her behaviour changed dramatically. She wanted to be held, maintained eye contact for lengthy periods and most incredibly – spoke words very clearly! She said her brother’s name and repeatedly said “Mum”. I have to repeat how incredible this is as she is completely non-verbal. Please somebody research this phenomenon!