$31 million boost for Autism

18 Feb 2013

QBI will form part of a Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) that has received a $31.01 million boost from the Federal Government for work assisting Australian’s Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Addressing a key national challenge, the CRC will be based at UQ and has three main aims to assist individuals living with ASD. This includes ensuring that a) they have a definitive diagnosis at an early age that can be coupled with a targeted early intervention strategy, b) they will be educated in an appropriate environment by skilled professionals, and c) they will be given the best chance to find a meaningful and fulfilling place in society through higher education, employment and better opportunities for long term social relationships.

QBI’s A/Professor Charles Claudianos joins scientists from 12 different research groups and their work is expected to benefit the lives of more than one million Australians.

“Better diagnostic tools, allowing affected children to be identified during the early years of life will allow for prompt intervention when neural plasticity is greatest, promoting better cognitive and psychosocial outcomes for the individual, and associated benefits for family members and public health spending,” says QBI’s A/Professor Claudianos.

In establishing Australia’s (and the world’s) first national, cooperative research effort directed towards ASD, the implementation of a highly innovative “whole-of-life” research portfolio, and the assembly of some of the finest and most respected scientists in their relevant fields, the CRC will address this key national challenge by:

  1. Harnessing existing knowledge of ASD behaviour in the first instance to accurately diagnose 50% of children with ASD prior to their second birthday and over 70% by their third birthday and then incorporate breakthroughs in biological research to identify subtypes of ASD and the most efficacious interventions;
  2. Providing appropriate educational environments and programs for students with ASD so that they have the best chance of social, behavioural and academic success, and equipping teachers to manage even the most complex behaviours; and
  3. Improving opportunities for people with ASD to successfully participate in higher education, increasing the rate of employment of people with ASD by 5% and providing lifelong physical and mental health management.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is amongst the most severe, prevalent and heritable of all neurodevelopmental disorders affecting at least 1 in 100 children. It is a lifelong condition with estimated annual support costs to Australia potentially exceeding $7 billion. With an unexplained 25- fold increase in the number of diagnoses in the past 30 years, there are now more children with ASD than the combined number of children with cerebral palsy, diabetes, deafness, blindness and leukemia.

The core participants in this CRC will be:

  • Autism Queensland Inc.
  • The University of Queensland
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • Griffith University
  • Mater Medical Research Institute
  • AEIOU Foundation
  • Department of Education, Training and Employment Queensland
  • LaTrobe University
  • University of NSW
  • Curtin University
  • University of Western Australia
  • Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT)

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