The evidence underpinning ASDetect is drawn from research undertaken by Dr Josephine Barbaro, PhD, who is program leader for the early detection and diagnosis of autism at the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.
During the Social Attention and Communication Study (SACS), Dr Barbaro trained 350 Maternal and Child Health nurses to monitor the social attention and communication behaviours of more than 30,000 children aged 12 to 24 months of age, across two large scale studies beginning in 2006.
In 2019, OTARC receieved funding from the Victorian State Government to train all Maternal and Child Health nurses. As a result, 1500 Maternal and Child Health nurses in Victoria were trained to prospectively identify infants and toddlers with ‘high likelihood’ of autism during the 12-month, 18-month, and 24-month Key Ages and Stages (KAS) consultations. Read full report.
This initiative ultimately aimed to increase the early identification of children with autism to provide enhanced support for children with autism at a younger age via earlier access to early intervention.
In these studies, 81% - 83% of children who were identified as having a high likelihood for autism by Maternal and Child Health nurses, did in fact have autism. Early identification of children with a high likelihood of autism means that parents and caregivers have the best chance of helping their child to reach their full potential.
“All typically developing babies are pre-wired to be social, look at other people’s faces, learn from them and copy what they’re doing. Children with autism are rarely doing this – and we can now accurately identify this at a much younger age and take action,” Dr Barbaro said.
Through this comprehensive study, Dr Barbaro has developed an accurate set of behavioural signs of autism, which form the basis of the assessments in ASDetect. These early signs relate to the following behaviours in young children:
ASDetect guides parents through the assessment questions using specially produced videos. There are videos of both autistic and non-autistic children. Each one shows a development milestone, and some questions also have activities that you can do with your child to help you answer the question.
“If we had ASDetect when our eldest son was an infant we would have easily identified that he has ASD. The videos make it very clear.”
Many parents have found ASDetect to be helpful. By demonstrating early social communication milestones, it allows early autism detection. It can also reassure parents that their child’s development is typical.
“If we had ASDetect when our eldest son was an infant we would have easily identified that he has autism. The videos make it very clear.”
“I think all parents worry a bit if their first child isn't quick to talk or communicate and wonder what ‘normal’ is. Using this test made me feel at ease and my child who is now almost 2 is reaching all milestones.”
Industry recognition for ASDetect includes the Australian Information Industry Association Research and Development Project of the Year 2016 (both Victorian and National), and the Google Impact Challenge 2016.
ASDetect is a free app that empowers parents to assess their young children for early signs of autism.
Enter your name, email address and password.
Your child's date of birth will prompt ASDetect to display the appropriate assessment: 12 months, 18 months or 24 months.
Watch the videos and then answer each question 'mostly' or 'rarely'. An assessment takes between 20 and 30 minutes.
You can watch videos again and change your answers if required.
You'll receive an on-screen result of either a 'higher' or 'lower' likelihood, as well as a comprehensive results email.
Dr. Josephine Barbaro is a Senior Research Fellow and registered psychologist at the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University. Her social attention and communication study (SACS) led to the establishment of Australia’s first Early Assessment Clinic for autism, and has been translated and disseminated nationally and internationally.
La Trobe University
Professor Dissanayake is an established researcher with a strong international reputation in research on autism. She is founder and Chair of La Trobe University’s Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre in Australia, and head of the Child Development Unit in the School of Psychology and Public Health.
La Trobe University
Dr Nancy Sadka is the Intake Officer for the Social Attention and Communication Study (SACS) at OTARC. Nancy has supported the journey of over 450 children and families through their early autism assessment.
La Trobe University
Wojciech Nadachowski was the Senior Advisor – Operations and Projects for OTARC when ASDetect was being developed. He has spent the past decade of his career working with non-profit and higher-education organisations in operational management and CRM implementation. Wojciech has a keen interest in using technology to solve human problems.
La Trobe University
Mrs Olga Tennison is a philanthropist who generously donated the funds to establish the Centre which is named in her honour.
The development of ASDetect would not be possible without the support of Salesforce, via their 1-1-1 model. Salesforce calls their integrated philanthropic approach the 1-1-1 model. Since founding, they have given more than $240 million in grants, 3.5 million hours of community service, and provided product donations for more than 39,000 nonprofits and education institutions.
Promoting Your Child’s Early Learning
This booklet contains simple ideas and activities that parents can do with their young children. These will help with social and communication development.
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Video Resource for Intervention at Home
Help is in Your Hands contains 16 video modules to help parents add simple intervention practices to their everyday routines at home. Based on the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), developed by Sally Rogers and Geraldine Dawson, these videos demonstrate simple but effective strategies that parents can use. For example, to increase children’s attention to people one module shows positioning people “face-to-face and close enough to touch” with toys or objects between the child and the adult.
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