Dr Josephine

Dr Josephine Barbaro

Research Fellow

College of Science, Health and Engineering

School of Psychology and Public Health

Department of Psychology and Counselling

Melbourne (Bundoora)

Research centres

Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre




Research fellow

Membership of professional associations

International Society for Autism Research (INSAR); Australasian Society for Autism Research (ASfAR); Health Services Research Association Australia and New Zealand (HSRAANZ); Australasian Human Development Association (AHDA); Menzies Menorial Scholars Association (MMSA)

Area of study


Brief profile

Dr Josephine Barbaro is a Research Fellow at the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University, and co-founder of Australia’s first ‘Early Assessment Clinic’ for autism. Dr Barbaro’s research interests are in the early identification and diagnosis of autism in infants and toddlers, and family health and well-being following a diagnosis. Her developmental surveillance program for autism, the Social Attention and Communication Study (SACS), has been translated and disseminated widely, both nationally and internationally. The SACS was further developed into a multiple-award winning mobile app called ASDetect, being one of ten finalist in Google’s Impact Challenge 2016. Dr Barbaro was the recipient of the nationally competitive Sir Robert Menzies Scholarship in Allied Health, and has won a number of awards, including the Nancy Millis PhD award, the International Society for Autism Research Dissertation Award, and Best Translation of Autism Research by the Australian Autism Cooperative Research Centre in both 2015 and 2016.

Recent publications

Hudry, K., Rumney, L., Pitt, N., Barbaro, J., & Vivanti, G. (in press). Brief Report: Interaction behaviours by bilingual parents with their young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Submitted to Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

Mozolic-Staunton, B., Donelly, M., Barbaro, J., & Yoxall, J. (in press). Interrater reliability of early childhood education professionals involved in developmental surveillance for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Australian Journal of Early Childhood.

Bent, C. A., Barbaro, J., & Dissanayake, C. (2017). Change in Autism Diagnoses Prior to and Following the Introduction of DSM-5. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(1), 163-171.

Clark, M. L., Barbaro, J., & Dissanayake, C. (2016). Continuity and Change in Cognition and Autism Severity from Toddlerhood to School Age. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, DOI: 10.1007/s10803-016-2954-7.

Barbaro, J., & Dissanayake, C. (2016). Diagnostic stability of autism spectrum disorder in toddlers prospectively identified in a community-based setting: Behavioural characteristics and predictors of change over time. Autism, DOI: 10.1177/1362361316654084.

Anderson, A., Barbaro, J., & Maybery, M. (2016). Introduction to Special Issue “Autism Spectrum Disorder: Research and Practice”. Australian Psychologist, 51(4), 259-260.

Barbaro, J. & Halder, S. (2016). Early identification of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Current challenges and future global directions. Current Developmental Disorders Reports, 3, 67-74.

Durkin, M. S., Elsabbagh, M., Barbaro, J., Gladstone, M., Happe, F., Hoekstra, R. A., Lee, L-C., Rattazzi, A., Stapel-Wax, J., Stone, W. L., Tager-Flusberg, H., Thurm, A., Tomlinson, M. & Shih, A. (2015). Autism screening and diagnosis in low resource settings: challenges and opportunities to enhance research and services worldwide. Autism Research. 8, 473-476. DOI: 10.1002/aur.1575

Bent, C., Barbaro, J., & Dissanayake, C. (2015). Mapping the diagnosis of Autism in children under 7 years in Australia: 2010 – 2012. Medical Journal of Australia, 202, 317-320.

Vivanti, G., Barbaro, J., Hudry, K., Dissanayake, C., & Prior, M. (2013) Intellectual development in autism spectrum disorders: new insights from longitudinal studies. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 354.

Vivanti, G., Hudry, K., Trembath, D., Barbaro, J., Richdale, A., Dissanayake, C. (2013). Towards the DSM 5 Criteria for Autism: Clinical, Cultural and Research Implications.  Australian Psychologist, 48, 258-261

Barbaro, J., & Dissanayake, C. (2013). Early markers of Autism Spectrum Disorders in infants and toddlers prospectively identified in the Social Attention and Communication Study (SACS). Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice, 17, 64-86.

Barbaro, J. & Dissanayake, C. (2012). Developmental profiles of infants and toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders identified prospectively in a community-based setting. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 1939-1948.

Barbaro, J., Ridgway, L., & Dissanayake, C. (2011). Developmental surveillance of infants and toddlers by Maternal and Child Health nurses in an Australian community-based setting: Promoting the early identification of Autism. Journal Pediatric Nursing, 26, 334-347.

Barbaro, J., & Dissanayake C. (2010). Prospective identification of Autism in infancy and toddlerhood using developmental surveillance: The Social Attention and Communication Study (SACS). Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 31, 376-385.

Barbaro, J. & Dissanayake, C. (2009). Autism Spectrum Disorders in infancy and toddlerhood: A review of the evidence on early signs, early identification tools, and early diagnosis. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 30, 447-459.

Barbaro, J. & Dissanayake, C. (2007). A comparative study of the use and understanding of self-presentational display rules in children with high functioning autism and Asperger’s Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1235-1246.


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Research projects

Study: Evaluating the effectiveness of ASDetect: A mobile application for the early detection of autism

Study: The Social Attention and Communication Study-Revised (SACS-R): Evaluating the efficacy of the SACS-R in identifying infants and toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Study: Development of a Family Support Clinic for Autism Spectrum Disorders

Study: Investigating the barriers to early detection and diagnosis of ASD

Study: Follow-up of children from the Social Attention and Communication Study (SACS) between 7-9 years of age