Wear blue for Autism

Wear blue for Autism

31 Mar 2011

While La Trobe University staff and students dress in blue to raise funds for World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) on Friday 1 April, the Victorian Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre (ASELCC): The Margot Prior Wing, will be celebrating a new appointment to their team from the University of California at Davis.  

AutismFrom Monday 18 April, Dr Cynthia Zierhut, one of five certified trainers  of the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) will be making her way from the Davis M.I.N.D Institute to La Trobe’s Melbourne campus to work with the 32 children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families.

Dr Zierhut works alongside Professor Sally Rogers who visited La Trobe last year on a Fullbright Fellowship to train staff members at the Margot Prior Wing on the ESDM. This model is appropriate for children from as young as 12 months of age to help them develop their social and communication skills.  However, the majority of chidlren at the Centre are between ages 2- to 5-years.Staff at the Centre are a mix of early childhood teacherscarers, as well as aan occupational therapist, a speech pathologist, and psychologist who are equipped with the necessary intervention skills to engage, communicate, and teach young children who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  

Dr Zierhut, a licensed Clinical and Developmental Psychologist specialising in the early identification and treatment of children with an ASD, will continue with Professor Rogers’ work. In her role as the psychologist and team leader she will assist staff and parents to implement the ESDM with the young children with Autism at the Centre, which will help them to develop their speech and social skills.

Associate Professor Cheryl Dissanayake, a leading researcher in Autism from La Trobe says current statistics indicate that 1 in 100 children will be diagnosed with an ASD, and believes that events held on WAAD will help raise international awareness and teach both professionals and families the value of early intervention.

‘As an academic and researcher in the field I hear a lot about family’s concerns for their child with an ASD.  World Autism Awareness Day promotes positive perceptions of Autism as well as a greater social understanding of affected children and their around the world,’ she says.

Professor Dissanayake has been invited to the National Autism Summit held in Sydney on April 1 where she is one of 30 experts who will have the opportunity to discuss early detection of ASD and early intervention models for families and children with Autism.  She will also see the Sydney Opera House turn blue to mark the second annual ‘Light it Up Blue’ event.

Photo Opportunity (1):

What: Give gold to dress in blue

The University’s Community Children’s Centre will raise funds for the Margot Prior Wing for specialised equipment

When: 9am - 5pm

Where: La Trobe University Melbourne Campus Melways reference Map 19 H7

Photo Opportunity (2):

What: World Autism Awareness Day event: Blue lollies for a gold coin

All proceeds to go to La Trobe University’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre

When: 12pm – 2pm

Where: La Trobe University Melbourne Campus, Agora

For more information please contact

Lisa Prowling

La Trobe University Media and Communications Officer

T: 03 9479 5517 M: 0401 044 784 E: L.Prowling@latrobe.edu.au


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