Identification and diagnosis
Developing and evaluating evidence-based approaches to identify and diagnose autism at all ages to activate timely and personalised supports.
Research program leader:
Associate Professor Josephine Barbaro
Cheryl Dissanayake, Katy Unwin, Nancy Sadka, Rachel Jellett, Melissa Gilbert, Darren Hedley, Alison Lane
Our research has:
- informed government policy on early childhood development
- trained health professionals and parents/carers in how to see the signs of autism as early as possible
- improved the outcomes of autistic children.
Australian children who are diagnosed with autism early in life reduced their need for ongoing support at school age by 30%. Children who receive an autism diagnosis and supports in the early and critical years (aged 18-36 months) have better school-age developmental outcomes. And yet, the average age of autism diagnosis in children remains at about 3-4 years.
An early diagnosis:
- enables children to begin participation in specialised supports and service programs at younger ages, maximising their developmental opportunities
- promotes greater independence and better quality of life for autistic children and their families
- benefits the community by significantly increasing the chances of these children participating in society.
OTARC Seminar Series
Dr Elizabeth Kryszak talks about a potential model for telehealth assessment of autism.
- New shift in autism research helping autistic people thrive - The City Journal
- Melbourne autism researchers develop world's most effective early screening tool for children - ABC News
- Why we all need to talk about the 'A' word - Bendigo Advertiser
- Accelerated growth linked to autism - LTU News
- Growth spurt in head, skeleton mark autism in boys - Spectrum News
- Why a 42 percent increase in autism diagnoses is no cause for alarm - SBS News
- The gender bias leaving young girls with autism undiagnosed - The Age
- Early autism diagnosis, better outcomes - LTU News
- Identifying autism through new tech - LTU News
- Life-changing autism training funded - LTU News
- Life-changing autism training launched - LTU News
Early predictors of “high likelihood” of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) in autistic children aged between 24- to 48- months
Funding: La Trobe University
Nancy Sadka, Josephine Barbaro, Amanda Richdale
Screening for autism during Maternal and Child Health check-ups using SACS-Telehealth.
Josephine Barbaro, Melissa Gilbert, Nancy Sadka
Cross-sectional and longitudinal predictors of sleep problems in young autistic children from the ASDetect Cohort.
Amanda Richdale, Josephine Barbaro, Nancy Sadka
Evaluation of ASDetect, a mobile application for autism
Funding: La Trobe University, School of Psychology and Public Health
The aim of this study is to determine the psychometric properties of ASDetect, a mobile application designed to enable parents and caregivers to assess their infant or toddler's likelihood for autism.
Josephine Barbaro, Cheryl Dissanayake, Nancy Sadka, Lael Ridgway, Melissa Gilbert
ASDetectPRO training needs analysis
Funding: La Trobe University
This study examines the current autism knowledge and training needs of medical and primary health, allied health, and early childhood education professionals to inform the development of ASDetectPRO, an early autism education program and tool for professionals.
Melissa Gilbert, Josephine Barbaro, Radhika Nair, Shannon Elgar (2020 honours candidate)
Early identification of ASD in Japan: Statutory infant health checkups and early screening tools
Funding: School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University
The study aim is to enable earlier identification of autism within the statutory health check-ups for children in Japan.
Hiroko Kawashima (PhD candidate), Cheryl Dissanayake, Darren Hedley, Emiko Kezuka
Brief Autism Detection in Early Childhood (BADEC)
The aim of this study is to test the predictive validity of brief ASD Level 2 screen in a US sample.
Darren Hedley, Rose Nevill (University of Virginia), Robyn Young (Flinders University)
Micah Mazurek (University of Virginia), Fei Nah (Singapore National University)
The production and validation of a Sensory Observation Autism Rating scale (SOAR) to map autism-specific sensory behaviours and improve early diagnosis
This study aims to create and validate a Sensory Observation Autism Rating scale (SOAR) in order to identify autism-specific sensory behaviours in young children (0-3 years).
Katy Unwin, Josephine Barbaro, Alison Lane
Examining the association between parental cultural and ethnic background and the diagnosis of autism in 12—42-month-old children
Funding: La Trobe University
This study investigates the association between parental cultural and ethnic background and the diagnosis of autism in 12–42-month-old children, identified via the early years program at OTARC.
Jessica Scaletti (2020 honours candidate), Ifrah Abdullahi, Josephine Barbaro, Nancy Sadka
Victorian Maternal and Child Health Services
In 2018 we successfully tendered to train all 1250 Victorian Maternal and Child Health nurses to monitor the social attention and communication development of children aged between 11 and 30 months. This collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services ensures that all Victorian babies are routinely monitored for early signs of autism.
is the world's leading CRM (Customer Relationship Management) provider. Through its philanthropic arm OTARC has been the beneficiary of:
- donated and significantly price-reduced licences to a range of platforms
- donated time by a team of 11 engineers and developers across four continents to help build early detection of autism app ASDetect
- Force for Change grant of $215,000 to build a digital employment hub for job seekers with autism. OTARC was the only Australian finalist out of 136 organisations that applied.
OTARC was one of 10 finalists in the Google Impact Challenge Australia 2016,receiving $250,000 to translate ASDetect into Mandarin Chinese and Spanish.
The Social Attention and Communication Surveillance (SACS) tool
Based on more than 15 years of research - the world's most effective early screening tool for autism.