Early yearsProgram 1: Early Years

Genetic Pathways

The results from an Autism CRC study and published in Translational Psychiatry has provided the first step in developing an understanding of the variety of genetic pathways that can lead to autism.

The advancement was made possible by the development a computer model used for assessing the association of genes linked with autism (AXAS™).

The computer software enables us to make sense of the millions of pieces of information provided by the genes, and understand how these may lead to a person developing autism.

An, J. Y., Cristino, A. S., Zhao, Q., Edson, J., Williams, S. M., Ravine, D., Wray, J., Marshall, V. M., Hunt, A., Whitehouse, A. J. O. and Claudianos, C. (2014) "Towards a molecular characterization of autism spectrum disorders: an exome sequencing and systems approach", Translational Psychiatry, 4 : e394.1-e394.9.

School YearsProgram 2: School Years

Autism in the Classroom

This article provides an overview of the characteristics of autism for educators and the importance of inclusion in the classroom. While these characteristics can present challenges for individuals on the spectrum in the school environment, the article calls for educators to focus on the strengths of each child.

Carrington, S & Harper-Hill, K. (2015) Teaching Children who have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Professional Voice. 10 (3).

School YearsProgram 2: School Years

Academic Achievement

This article presents a review of the literature around factors leading to increased academic achievement of individuals on the autism spectrum. Results indicated that many individuals demonstrate specific areas of strength and weakness and there is a great deal of variability in general academic achievement across the autism spectrum. Adolescents and individuals with lower IQ scores were underrepresented, and few studies focused on environmental factors related to academic success. The importance of individualised assessments that profile the relative strengths and weaknesses of children and adolescents to aid in educational programming was highlighted. Further research on child-related and environmental factors that predict academic achievement is needed.

Keen, D., Webster, A & Ridley, G. (2015). How well are children with ASD doing academically at school? An overview of the literature. International Journal of Research and Practice. DOI: 10.1177/1362361315580962.

Program 3: Adulthood

Management of Mental Ill Health

This article aims to describe mental ill health and identify specific considerations for GPs during the assessment and management of adults with ASD.

Adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may require medical assessment and care, especially for mental health conditions. Although substantial knowledge and resources are available regarding the management of mental ill health in children with ASD, substantial gaps remain for adults with ASD. Diagnostic overshadowing, limitations of communication skills and the heterogeneous nature of this patient population can make practice in this area more challenging, and can contribute to poorer outcomes, including overprescribing of psychotropic medications.

Foley, K.and Trollor,J. Management of mental ill health in people with autism spectrum disorder. Australian Family Physician. 44(11) 2015. pp 784-790.

Program 3: Adulthood

Economic benefit for Employment of Adults on the Spectrum

A study led by Autism CRC Program 3 Director Professor Torbjorn Falkmer and published by PLOS ONE has shown that the enhancing the opportunities for Adults on the Autism Spectrum to join the workforce is beneficial not only from a societal perspective but also from an economic perspective.

While previous research has been been done to show that employing adults with autism has economic benefits by reducing lost productivity and resource cost for this group, few studies have been done to explore the cost-benefit ratio for employing them from the perspective of the employers. This study sets out to examine the costs, benefits, cost-benefit ratio of employing adults with autism, from a societal perspective and from the perspective of the employers.

This study was supported by funding from Australian Postgraduate award scholarship to Melissa Scott from the Australian Federal Government and Curtin University, with funding from the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC).

Jacob A, Scott M, Falkmer M, Falkmer T (2015) The Costs and Benefits of Employing an Adult with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review. PLoS ONE 10(10): e0139896. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0139896

Program 3: Adulthood

Cost of Autism

A study led by Autism CRC Program 3 Director Professor Torbjorn Falkmer and published by PLOS ONE has shown that the median cost of a child being diagnosed with autism as $34,900 per annum.

Almost 90% of the sum ($29,200) was due to loss of income from employment.

While previous research has shown that a diagnosis of ASD results in an estimated annual national cost to Australia of $4.5–7.2 billion, the study set out to establish how these costs impact the families and more specifically whether a delay in diagnosis added to these costs.

This study was funded by the Department of Social Services (DSS), formerly the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA), with in-kind support from Autism CRC.

Horlin C., Falkmer M., Parsons R., Albrecht M. A., Falkmer T. (2014) "The Cost of Autism Spectrum Disorders", PLOS ONE PLOS One, 9(9):e106552.doi:10.1371 /journal.pone.0106552.

Program 3: Adulthood

Co-parenting experiences

The purpose of this study was to identify key factors associated with co-parenting experiences in parents raising a child with autism spectrum disorder. Questionnaires were sent to families with one or more children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Parents of 142 children with autism spectrum disorder indicated that the diagnosis had a negative impact on their co-parent relationship. Findings highlight the need to further explore family dynamics, particularly the relationships between the co-parenting alliance, other family members and the extra-familial environment.

 

Sim A., Cordier R., Vaz S., Netto J., Falkmer T. (2015) Factors associated with positive and negative co-parenting relationships in families of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Developmental Neourorehabilitation DOI: 10.3109/17518423.2015.1069414