Autism Spectrum Disorder Research

‘A brief, integrated parent mediated intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder’

University of Sydney, NSW
Awarded 2019

“Over the last decade, more and more of these children have been presenting with features of autism. It has become clear that our parenting intervention can have a significant impact on the well being of children with autism and their families.”

Researcher Profile

I am a clinical psychologist interested in the development of health versus psychopathology, especially common problems like aggression, antisocial behaviour, anxiety and depression. Originally trained in behavioural approaches to parent and family methods of maximising positive child development, I direct the Sydney Child Behaviour Research Clinic which operates as a clinical service for parents of children with developmental, behavioural and emotional problems, as well a training and research centre.

A major thrust of this work is understanding interparental processes whereby parental systems work together to maximise child outcomes and their own health and happiness.

Project Summary

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) begins early in life and has a major and longstanding impact on quality of life, both for the individuals affected and their families. There are currently no medical treatments that address the core symptoms of ASD. There is however emerging evidence that early interventions that are delivered in the home setting by parents and early on in the child’s life can improve core ASD symptoms, associated behaviour problems, and parental and family health in general. Surprisingly, there have been no attempts to produce an integrated parenting intervention for ASD addressing these key domains of child functioning and parent well-being within the one intervention. This project will develop and evaluate an integrated parenting intervention for children with ASD that: 1) is evidence-based, time-limited and cost-effective; 2) addresses the interdependent domains of child and parent functioning within the one intervention; and 3) can be delivered during the child’s early critical development. We will establish the feasibility and preliminary efficacy of the world’s first parent-mediated integrated intervention for parents of children with ASD that targets the three synergistic elements of early intervention for ASD: child social communication skills, child behaviour problems, and parent/family well-being, within the one integrated intervention at the critical period for child neurodevelopmental plasticity.

Co-Investigators: Professor Valsa Eapen, Dr David Hawes & Dr Lucy Tully