Professor Suzanne Carrington will lead the education strand of research under a new $100M CRC for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
QUT is playing a key role in a Brisbane-based world-first research centre designed to improve the lives of children and adults living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
The Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders will receive more than $104 million over its eight year lifespan with financial input coming from the federal government ($30.01M) as well as 56 other participants.
QUT Faculty of Education Professor Suzanne Carrington said more than one million Australians lived with ASD, a disorder that cost the nation more than $7 billion annually and had experienced an unexplained 25-fold increase in the past 30 years.
“Affecting more than one in 100 children, there are now more children in Australia diagnosed with ASD than the combined number of children suffering from cerebral palsy, diabetes, deafness, blindness and leukaemia,” she said.
Professor Carrington said the new CRC would have three core research programs centred around early diagnoses and intervention, education by skilled professionals, and improving opportunities for people with ASD to participate in higher education and employment and improving lifelong physical and health management.
Professor Carrington said QUT would lead research into the education research program.
“We will work to identify the educational environment and programs that will provide students with ASD the best chance of success on social, behavioural and academic levels,” she said.
“We will also develop programs that will better equip teachers to manage students with ASD,” she said.
She said teachers needed to have a better understanding of the characteristics of ASD and the teaching strategies and classroom approaches that could better address success at school.
“Children with ASD have particular difficulties with social and communication skills and need support to learn these skills with their peers,” she said.
“They may have repetitive interests and behaviours that may cause stress in the classroom environment.”
Professor Carrington said all children in schools had diverse social and ability backgrounds so an inclusive learning approach in schools was necessary.
“The CRC research will ensure we have evidencebased practice that works in classrooms and will improve teachers’ knowledge and skills to support all children’s learning,” she said.
“Once we have a better understanding of the biological factors that influence a child with ASD’s learning and behaviour teachers will be in a better position to help them learn.”
Professor Carrington said the programs developed by the QUT-led research would empower not only teachers but families, carers, therapists and others in the community to better deal with the unique learning needs of students with ASD.
The core participants in this CRC will be:
- Autism Queensland Inc.
- 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)