Interventions across the lifespan

Interventions Across the Lifespan

Research projects

Studies investigating the effectiveness of early intervention approaches for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are a crucial step towards promoting the wider dissemination of evidence-based strategies, which ultimately may reduce, or possibly reverse, brain abnormalities associated with ASDs.

In addition to studying effectiveness of early intervention, we also investigate the predictors of treatment response. This work is designed to provide clinicians/therapists with important knowledge to enable them to tailor treatments to individuals to maximum their developmental gains.

Current studies

Evaluation of the Early Start Denver Model in a group setting

Researchers: Giacomo Vivanti (PhD), Cheryl Dissanayake (PhD), Sally Rogers (PhD; MIND Institute at UC Davis), and the Victorian ASELCC Team

Funded by: Department of Social Services (DSS).

Study aim: The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a comprehensive early behavioural intervention program for children with an ASD aged 12 to 60 months. The Victorian Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre (ASELCC) at La Trobe University is one of only two sites internationally that is currently implementing the ESDM in a group setting.

This study is designed to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the ESDM in a group setting by examining children's progress in developmental areas such as communication, social skills, imitation, play and their cognitive and language abilities. A further aim is to compare gains in the ESDM group to those achieved by children receiving a 1:1 ESDM program.

For more information contact Dr Giacomo Vivanti or Professor Cheryl Dissanayake

Predictors of early intervention outcomes

Researchers: Giacomo Vivanti (PhD), Cheryl Dissanayake (PhD) and David Trembath (PhD)

Study aim: We remain unable to make a priori decisions about matching children with autism to appropriate treatments. This study will begin to address this gap in our knowledge by investigating the predictors of treatment response to not only the Early Start Denver Model, but also other early intensive behavioural interventions designed for young children with an ASD.

Our aim is to determine the key factors associated with positive response to treatments. The children participating in this study are attending the Victorian Autism Specific Learning and Care Centre and the Community Children's Centre at La Trobe University.

For more information contact Dr Giacomo Vivanti or Professor Cheryl Dissanayake