Understanding educational interventions

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.

There is increasing evidence that intensive implementation of educational programs can be efficacious in improving outcomes in young children with autism. One of the most promising early intervention programs is the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), a play-based intervention specifically targeting the educational needs of preschoolers with autism. Research conducted in the US indicates that the program is efficacious in the context of intensive individual home treatment. However, as standard community services often lack the resources needed to support intensive, individual home programs, very few families currently have access to this therapy. Our research program addresses this critical issue by documenting feasibility, effectiveness and predictors of outcomes of the ESDM delivered in the context of community childcare settings

Current studies

  1. Evaluation of the Early Start Denver Model in a group setting
    Researchers: Giacomo Vivanti, Cheryl Dissanayake, Sally Rogers (MIND Institute at UC Davis, USA)& the Victorian ASELCC Team
    Funding: Department of Social Services (DSS)
  2. Predictors of early intervention outcomes
    Researchers: Giacomo Vivanti, Cheryl Dissanayake & David Trembath (Griffith University)
    Funding: Department of Social Services (DSS)
  3. Comparing learning outcomes of preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder in inclusive versus segregated settings: Testing a new model of early intervention delivery at the Victorian Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre.
  4. Researchers: Giacomo Vivanti, Ed Duncan, Cheryl Dissanayake & the Victorian ASELCC Team