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.

2016 paper 2017 paper

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.

Watch the talk

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.

Learn more about the SACS tool