Learning and teaching

Interventions Across the Lifespan

Our ability to live as independent adults is influenced heavily by our learning experiences as children. Autism affects the ability to live an adult independent life, perhaps more than any other developmental condition, and these difficulties are rooted in early learning difficulties. But why is learning difficult for children with autism? What is the impact of early learning difficulties in intellectual development? And can early educational intervention successfully address these difficulties? To answer to this question, we are undertaking a comprehensive research program aimed at understanding how do children with autism learn and how to teach them so that they learn.

What is nature of learning difficulties in children with ASD? Why do they have difficulties learning in some areas and not in others? Why do some children with ASD learn very rapidly and others learn very slowly? What is the role of motivation, attention and emotion processing in learning? And what is the link between early social engagement, learning, and intellectual development in this population? Our research program aims at 'dissecting' early learning in autism to address these critical issues

Current studies

  1. Early learning and intellectual development in autism
    Researchers: Peter Fanning, Giacomo Vivanti, Darren Hocking & Cheryl Dissanayake
    Research Partners: Macquarie University, Autism Partnership Australia: Little Learners Autism Program
  2. Social learning and imitation in children with ASD
    Researchers: Giacomo Vivanti & Cheryl Dissanayake
    Funding: Department of Social Services (DSS)