CAPTeam - Current studies

The CAPTeam have a number of active studies. Some studies are carried out with using existing datasets and resources, while others actively involve families as research participants. Depending on the study, our active research participants may be:

  • Children with a diagnosis of autism;
  • Children with other conditions;
  • Children about whom there are no developmental concerns;
  • Parents/caregivers;
  • Community professionals.

The CUB Study: Communicating and Understanding your Baby

For this clinical trial, we are looking for pregnant women who:

  • Have a family history of Autism, ADHD or intellectual disability
  • Live in the Melbourne area and are willing to visit La Trobe University (Bundoora) 4 times in 2 years, with possible additional in-home visits if randomised into the treatment group
  • Speak English as the main language at home
  • Are pregnant with a single baby (eg. not pregnant with twins or triplets)

The study is a ‘randomised controlled trial’, which means that we are investigating whether this new program may provide benefit when we compare it to current healthcare practice.

Early intervention can play an important part in reducing disability that is associated with autism spectrum disorder (autism). Early intervention typically starts after a child receives a diagnosis, most often between the ages of 2 and 6 years of age. At present, we don’t know whether commencing early intervention before this age, particularly during the first year of life, may also provide developmental benefits to the child. One way to investigate this idea is to study family members of individuals with developmental conditions such as Autism, ADHD or intellectual disability. Autism is known to be heritable (to ‘run in families’), and relatives of individuals with a developmental condition have a higher chance of being diagnosed with autism compared to the general population.

This research trials a new program that runs from the third antenatal trimester through to when the baby is 8 months of age. We want to explore whether this program may help parents understand more about their baby’s early social and communication skills, and in the process assist their baby’s development. This research is important because it will help us to understand how we can best support parents of newborn children, and whether a program providing very early in development may deliver benefits to the family and child.

Register your interest here for the CUB Study by completing this short form, and a member of our team will then be in touch with you soon.

Alternatively, you are welcome to contact our Study Coordinator, Alex Aulich, for more information,

Knowing me, knowing you: Understanding social behaviour in autistic and non-autistic teens

For this study, we would like to invite:

  • teenagers aged between 12 and 17 years of age, with and without Autism, and their parent/guardian.

In this study we are investigating how autistic and non-autistic teenagers think about their social world and how this interacts with their mood. We hope to learn how different teens understand and engage in their world; what sort of thinking and behavioural processes they use in their day to day lives.

The study will involve teens and their parent/guardian completing separate online surveys which will include some questions and some additional puzzles for teenage participants (surveys will take roughly 30mins).

As a thank you for participating, you will have the chance to win a $20 voucher.

After completing the survey, participants can choose to opt-in and may be chosen to be part of an interview (1hr via zoom) with a psychologist. The interview questions will follow similar topics to the survey and be done with a parent. Every participant selected for an interview will receive a further $30 voucher in thanks for their time.

Please read the Participant Information Statement (Pdf) for more detailed information about this study.

You can Register your interest here for this study by completing this short form, and a member of our team will then be in touch with you soon.

Alternatively, you are welcome to contact Daniel Berends, primary investigator, directly for more information,

This study has been approved by La Trobe University Human Research Ethics Committee (no# HEC20503).

Gazefinder: The identification and diagnosis of autism of young children

Participation in this clinical trial has now closed, and thank you to all of our families who have helped us with this research.

We look forward to sharing more information about this study and the findings soon! If you would like to stay updated or learn more, you can email us directly by contacting Alex Aulich,

About the Gazefinder Clinical Trial:

This research program investigated the role that eye-tracking technology could play in the future to support the earlier identification and diagnosis of autism. Currently, it can be a long and frustrating experience for a family to seek a diagnosis for their child. This research project is investigating whether technology might help clinicians to detect autism more accurately and make the diagnostic process more efficient.

We are working in collaboration with the Telethon Kids Institute, led by Professor Andrew Whitehouse who is a Speech Pathologist and Head of the Autism Research Team. The study is funded by the developer of Gazefinder: JVCKENWOOD Corporation (Japan).

Viewing Gazefinder takes only 2½-minutes and is like watching a computer or TV. Children sit on a small chair (or carer’s lap). An initial scene shows animations popping up on different parts of the screen, to check Gazefinder can automatically detect where the child is looking. The video animation is then shown and includes clips that are playful and engaging for young children – animated characters, shapes, and human faces, set to a musical background and sound effects. There are no instructions for children to respond in any particular way; they can just sit comfortably and watch the videos.

News items:

Childhood Autism Phenotype Team (CAPTeam)

CAPTeam - Team members

CAPTeam - Student research

CAPTeam - Findings and publications