Autism research embraces inclusive approach – conference 

The latest autism research will be showcased at the Australasian Society for Autism Research (ASfAR) Conference at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus this week.

With more than 100 contributors from across Australia and overseas, ASfAR 2018 will highlight current advances in the major research disciplines investigating autism and the broader spectrum, including work led by adults on the autism spectrum, research with families, support services and the broader community.

Keynote speakers include

  • Professor Helen Tager-Flusberg Dept of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University

“Exploring language and communication in Autism from a developmental perspective’’

  • Professor Chris Oliver – Cerebra Centre for Neurodevelopment Disorders, University of Birmingham

“Autism and severe intellectual disability: Looking beyond the environment to understand behaviour’’

  • Dr Jacqui Rodgers – Institute of Neuroscience, University of Newcastle

Facing the unknown: Intolerance of uncertainty and anxiety in Autism Spectrum Disorder”

Convenor Dr Jessica Paynter from the School of Applied Psychology says there have been two distinct shifts in autism research in recent years – a move away from mainly researching males without intellectual impairments, to focussing on the needs of everyone on the spectrum including females, and individuals across the spectrum of verbal and intellectual abilities.

“The other big shift we have seen is addressing the needs of adults on the autism spectrum. As well as focussing on early interventions and young children and adolescents there is now more research on adults on the spectrum including those who may be diagnosed later in life,’’ she said.

“With the rise of autistic advocacy and a strengths-based approach, it’s a more inclusive approach that doesn’t pathologise autism but embraces the different facets of everyone’s lives and unique needs.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) is a platinum sponsor of ASfAR.

Autism CRC Chief Research Officer, Professor Andrew Whitehouse, will be speaking at the conference, along with numerous Autism CRC project leaders and scholars.

“We are pleased to see the breadth of the program reflecting the expanding nature of autism research, in terms of inclusive practice and a whole of life perspective. We look forward to hearing of research that might further contribute to empowering autistic people to discover and use their diverse strengths and interests,” Professor Whitehouse said.