Identification and diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Identification and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders

Research projects

Identifying the early behavioural signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) in infancy and toddlerhood are critical to understand how ASDs develop and manifest in the first years of life. This knowledge also assists in identifying and diagnosing children earlier, enabling them to receive intervention in their early and most important years.

Results from many studies both at OTARC and by other researchers clearly shows that early signs of ASD can be reliably detected in infants and toddlers later diagnosed with an ASD. On the basis of these findings we undertook the Social Attention and Communication Study (SACS) which showed that ASDs could be identified during children's second year of life through routine developmental surveillance within the Victorian Maternal and Child Health Service. The SACS is now being evaluated throughout Australia as well as in other cultures, with trials underway in Poland, Korea, Japan and China. We are also following up the children who participated in the SACS to study their cognitive, communication and social development as they grow older.

Current studies

  1. Social Attention and Communication Study-Revised (SACS-R).
    Researchers: Josephine Barbaro,
    Lael Ridgway (School of Nursing and Midwifery, La Trobe University), Cheryl Dissanayake
    Funding: Menzies Foundation; Autism CRC
  2. Early identification of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Tianjin, China.
    Researchers:
    Cheryl Dissanayake, Josephine Barbaro, Chongying Wang (Nankai University) & Gongshu Liu (Tianjin Women and Children's Health Centre)
    Funding: Australia-China Scientific Research Fund
  3. Reducing the age of diagnosis of ASD in Nepal: SACS-N.
    Researchers: Rena Shrestra, Cheryl Dissanayke & Josephine Barbaro
  4. Social attention and communication symptoms in infants at familial high risk for Autism.
    Researchers:
    Kristelle Hudry, Josie Barbaro, Emily Jones (Birkbeck College, University of London) & Przemyslaw Tomalski (University of Warsaw, Poland)
  5. Clinician confidence during screening for Autism Spectrum Disorder in toddlers.
    Researchers: Darren Hedley,
    Neil Brewer (Flinders University), Rose Nevill (Ohio State University & Nisonger Center, Columbus Ohio) & Elizabeth Kryszak, Jonathan Wilkins, Eric Butter, James A Mulick (all Nationwide Children's Hospital and Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio)
  6. Approach and withdrawal in toddlers with ASD and developmental delays: Unique behavioural profiles?
    Researchers: Darren Hedley, Mirko Uljarevic,
    Prof James A Mulick (Ohio State University) & Rose Nevill (Ohio State University & Nisonger Center, Columbus Ohio)
  7. Developmental surveillance for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in early childhood education settings.
    Researchers:
    Beth Mozolic-Staunton, Michelle Donelly, Josephine Barbaro, & Jacqui Yoxall (Southern Cross University)
  8. Social attention and communication surveillance in Warsaw, Poland.
    Researchers: Joanna Kwarsiborska-Dudek (Academy of Special Education), Przemyslaw Tomalski (Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw), Cheryl Dissanayake & Josephine Barbaro
  9. Social attention and communication surveillance in Tanaka, Japan.
    Researchers:
    Emiko Kesuka (Gunma Prefectural Women's University), Hiroshi Miyauti (Takasaki University of Health and Welfare), Midori Okuno (Gunma Paz College), Cheryl Dissanayake & Josephine Barbaro
  10. Early identification of Autism in Japan.
    Researchers:
    Emiko Kesuka (Gunma Prefectural Women's University), Hiroshi Miyauti (Takasaki University of Health and Welfare), Midori Okuno (Gunma Paz College), Cheryl Dissanayake, Robyn Young (Flinders University), Alison Lane (University of Newcastle), Darren Hedley & Josephine Barbaro
  11. Universal surveillance and early identification of developmental disorders.
    Researchers:
    Valsamma Eapen (University of New South Wales), Katrina Williams (Royal Children's Hospital, Department of Developmental Medicine), Bin Jaludin (University of New South Wales), Cheryl Dissanayake & Sue Woolfenden (Sydney Children's Hospitals Network)
    Funding: National Health and Medical Research Council