The tool, known as Autism Detection in Early Childhood (ADEC), is already available in Australia and used in Mexico and Singapore.
The School of Psychology’s Associate Professor Robyn Young is hoping that a current study will assist in its uptake world-wide.
“It is an easy-to-use tool, requiring limited additional training, providing a cost-effective way to identify children who may be a risk of developing autism,” Associate Professor Young said.
“Research, however, is required to ensure that this tool is identifying autism and not anything else. Therefore we need to involve lots of ‘typically’ developing children and children who have other disabilities,” she said.
“Ironically we have been able to recruit children on the autism spectrum for this study, given their parents are well aware of the need for such a tool. Unfortunately we have had very little response from the wider community.”
Assisting her in the study is an experienced clinician from Singapore, Mr Yong Hwee Nah (Fei), who is currently completing his PhD at Flinders while on an Endeavour Scholarship.
“We are thrilled to have Fei at Flinders as he is one of the few clinicians trained in Australia to research level in some of the widely used Autism tools,” Associate Professor Young said.
The study is designed for children aged between 12 and 36 months, and comprises a one-hour session in which the researcher assesses the child’s social and play skills and also interviews the parents. A short written report will be prepared upon the parents’ request.
While the screening is particularly appropriate for parents who may be concerned about their children’s development (such as lateness in talking) or where there is a family history of Autism Spectrum Disorder, Flinders would welcome any children aged between 12 and 36 months as participants in the study.
Parents who choose to bring their child to Flinders for assessment will be eligible for a $20 fee towards travel costs, or the researcher can visit the child and parents at home.
For enquiries and bookings, contact Fei on 8201 3998 or email Associate Professor Robyn Young.