The annual Autism CRC Awards for Achievement in Autism Research recognise and celebrate research and development initiatives that are exemplary of Autism CRC’s vision, mission and values. In particular, these awards recognise achievements in the translation of autism research into practice, products, policy and programs that benefit the autistic and autism communities.
This year, two awards were presented in our translation of autism research category. This category is for initiatives in the field of autism research, including projects not funded by Autism CRC, that show a demonstrated commitment to the translation and utilisation of research in products, services, policy and programs that benefit the autistic and/or autism community. They must also show evidence that a research outcome has provided significant benefit to the autism community through successful translation.
The first of our two awards went to Associate Professor Kate Sofronoff from the University of Queensland for the Secret Agent Society Whole Classroom Trial.
Increasing the reach of the targeted training program beyond cities and into the regions is essential to meeting the needs of the autism community. For the Secret Agent Society whole classroom trial to be a viable program for both educational bodies and individual school administrators, the program not only had to be effective in achieving its targeted outcomes, it also needed to be 'accessible' from a cost and human resourcing perspective.
To maintain teacher interest, content is now being delivered via a number of multimedia components including 'talk to camera' train-the-trainer videos, student role play videos, downloadable resources, activity handbooks and integrated links to additional supports. While an integrated online blog allows a remote facilitator to answer questions in 'real time'.
The Secret Agent Society whole classroom trial online has been successfully trialed on two occasions to date, receiving positive teacher evaluation.
The second of our two awards went to Dr Beth Saggers from the Queensland University of Technology for the Educational Needs Analysis project.
This project produced a world first nationwide needs analysis identifying the educational needs of school aged autistic students. The findings have guided research and the development of models of educational support for students on the autism spectrum.
Overall, research findings have reinforced the development and implementation of research strategies and resources that are informed by the autism community and focus on maximising success, retention, participation and engagement of school aged students on the autism spectrum throughout school and into post school life.
Congratulations to Associate Professor Kate Sofronoff and Dr Beth Saggers for their accomplishments in the translation of autism research as this year’s winners of the Autism CRC Awards for Achievement in Autism Research.