Understanding autism and its treatment

Summary

We have recently established an Autism Research group within the Brain and Mind Research Institute. We seek to substantially advance knowledge about autism and to lead the world in the development of new treatments and offer research projects to facilitate these goals.

Through our headspace service of young people aged 12-25, we see a large number of clients who report mental health difficulties with Autism. We seek to develop new treatments and measures for social problems in this age group. 

Supervisor(s)

Associate Professor Adam Guastella

Research Location

Camperdown - Brain and Mind Research Institute

Program Type

Masters/PHD

Synopsis

Autism: Understanding the disorder and developing new treatments
We are recruiting a cohort of young people with autism (150+), from infants to young adults, for various research assessment and treatment programs. We seek to understand the biological and cognitive underpinnings of this social disorder and to recruit motivated and dedicated students to lead aspects of the assessment and treatment investigation. This will include investigation involving imaging (MRI), physiology (eye gaze, heart rate variability, EEG), plasma (psychopharmacology), cognition (in particular social cognitive aspects), and behaviour (observational assessments, social interaction assessments, experience sampling). The identification of novel markers and how these markers change across development will substantially advance our understanding of autism and its associated developmental pathways. In addition, we test novel medical and psychological treatments to help people who have been diagnosed with autism. We are developing new treatment programs of young adults transitioning from school into university and work settings. We are leading a number of clinical trials utilizing novel medications. A student could, for example, lead one of these trials or assist in the development of a CBT or exercise based program.
These projects are already funded by various national and international agencies and, depending on your project, you will work in the context of an international team of supervisors. Individuals with a range of backgrounds and interests can apply. For example, we expect psychologists may be particularly interested in studying social cognition in autism or developing CBT programs, while neuroscientists may be particularly interested using imaging to identify markers of the disorder and associated social difficulties.

CBT treatment of young adults with Autism
We currently run an active group program to treat social concerns in young people, but there is a real need to develop a specialised program for young people with autism. This project seeks to develop a program for young adults transitioning from school into adult environments who are diagnosed with high functioning autism. You will lean on many of the programs we currently run to treat social difficulties in psychosis and social anxiety, but also develop novel aspects to specifically treat autism. This project will result in a new psychosocial group and individual treatment program for young adults with autism.

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Keywords

autism, Aspergers, behaviour, CBT, Clinical psychology, clinical treatment, experience sampling, Hormone, Imaging, MRI, psychopharmacology, social cognition, therapy

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1575

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