Autism researchers travel to India

The Margot Prior Wing of the La Trobe University Community Children’s Centre is working with a not for profit organisation based in India to provide Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) training to medical professionals from a New Delhi hospital to help children with autism. 


Jess Feary, occupational therapistOver four days, trainers from the Victorian Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre at La Trobe University, Research Fellow Dr Giacomo Vivanti and Occupational Therapist Jess Feary (pictured), will train 15 doctors, nurses and allied health professionals from the New Delhi hospital – Maulana Azad Medical College

‘The doctors, nurses and allied health professionals will learn effective therapeutic strategies on an autism specific intervention program, the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), enabling them to implement an evidence-based early intervention program which is currently used at the Margot Prior Wing of the La Trobe University Children’s Centre to help children with autism participate in community life’, says Dr Vivanti.

Unlike other programs which focus on older children, the ESDM uses an early intervention approach and encompasses curriculum and teaching practises designed for toddlers and young preschoolers with autism. ‘It’s been known for some time that ESDM leads to significant positive changes in the development of children with autism,’ says Professor Cheryl Dissanayake, Director of the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre (OTARC) at La Trobe University and the Margot Prior Wing’s Research Partner.

‘This trip is very important for our mission to disseminate knowledge on the best practice in autism intervention, and build research partnerships overseas.’ says Dr Vivanti. ‘This partnership with our colleagues in India is particularly important because they will learn how to implement the same intervention program that we are using but in a completely different setting.

‘This will give us the opportunity to determine whether our model is effective and sustainable across different cultural and geographical contexts.’

The latest research shows that children receiving ESDM showed the same pattern of response to faces and objects as typically developing kids. ‘They are still autistic, but the ESDM seems to be changing the way their brain responds to other people’, says Professor Dissanayake.

The Hans Foundation, a not for profit organisation, first approached La Trobe University, Margot Prior Wing to provide the ESDM training to the New Delhi hospital and it is expected that the partnership between the two continues to grow and improve outcomes for children with autism.

Following from the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) New Delhi December conference on ‘Autism: From Early Childhood to Adulthood: Successful Data-Based Interventions’, the collaboration between La Trobe University  and the Hans Foundation is hoped to bring light to the many aspects and treatments of this syndrome in India.

The ESDM training session will commence on the 11 of March and conclude on the 14 of March.

Media contact:

Giacomo Vivanti
Research Fellow, Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre
T +61 3 9479 2122 | E g.vivanti@latrobe.edu.au

Cheryl Dissanayake
Director, Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre
T +61 3 9479 1162 | E c.dissanayake@latrobe.edu.au

Dian Lipiarski
Communications Officer
T +61 3 9479 5517 | E d.lipiarski@latrobe.edu.au

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