Associate Professor David Trembath

Helping people on the autism spectrum and their families stay connected with essential services via the delivery of telehealth is the aim of an Advance Queensland Fellowship awarded to Associate Professor David Trembath from Menzies Health Institute Queensland.

A speech pathologist, Associate Professor Trembath and team will work with partner Autism Queensland to guide its rapid transition to organisation-wide telehealth delivery for clients and their families across Queensland.

“COVID-19 has led to unprecedented disruption to therapy and support services for these people,’’ he said.

“Physical distancing restrictions has meant that many services cannot operate in person. These services are essential in helping children to learn, adolescents to navigate the teenage years and adults to be independent and included in society.”

Despite the restrictions, he said therapists, teachers, people on the autism spectrum and their families quickly switched to telehealth.

“These are some of the most creative and committed people you will ever meet and they have risen to the challenge. It seems in some cases, telehealth works just as well, and possibly better, than face-to-face delivery.”

“The project will address the current disruption to services and any long-term changes, while also future-proofing service delivery against future pandemics or natural disasters.”

“We want to take the most successful short-term fixes, and turn them into sustainable long-term gains.”

This project is one of five Advance Queensland Fellowships awarded to Griffith University researchers.