New framework will place people at the heart of decision making

1 Dec 2023

Autism CRC has commenced work to develop an evidence-based framework for assessing, differentiating, and reporting children’s functional strengths and support needs.

“The framework will place people at the heart of decision making – the children and families – and what is unique about their functional strengths and support needs,” said Professor David Trembath from Griffith University, who will Co-lead the project with neurodivergent speech pathologist, Amy Fitzpatrick.   

Children can experience challenges to their learning, participation, and wellbeing for a range of reasons, including developmental differences and delay. Environmental factors such as inaccessible settings can also play a part. When challenges exist, children may benefit from informal and formal supports that are tailored to their individual strengths and support needs, irrespective of whether they have a diagnosed condition.

The framework will be co-produced with the stakeholder community and will address the current gap in understanding and lack of consensus about how best to assess, differentiate, and report children’s functional strengths and support needs. The findings will inform professional practice, operational guidance, and decision making, across all states and territories, service and support settings.

“As a community we need to better focus on understanding each child and family for who they are as individuals, including their unique strengths and support needs. Diagnoses have their place, but of themselves they tell us next to nothing about an individual’s strengths, and very little about any particular support needs they may have,” said Ms Fitzpatrick. 

“Autism CRC has a long history of bringing people and organisations with different views and experience together to address major challenges and co-design practical solutions,” said Autism CRC CEO, Andrew Davis.

The project will broadly follow the same methodology used to develop the two National Health and Medical Research Council-approved Autism CRC National Guidelines. This will involve an iterative process of evidence gathering, evidence synthesis, and consensus building involving community, professional, and government stakeholders.

“Whether you are a practitioner, NDIS planner, school principal, or policy maker, the framework will help you understand, differentiate, and where necessary address the different support needs children and families may have,” said Associate Professor Trembath.

Autism CRC will work with the community, professionals, and government organisations and agencies to co-produce the framework, and will provide opportunities for engagement in the project in early 2024.

This project is one of a number of activities funded by a Commonwealth Department of Social Services Industry, Linkages and Capacity-Building grant.

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