Precision pathways for young children at risk of Neurodevelopmental Disorders: Early identification and adaptive intervention starting from the prenatal period
Investigators: Amy Finlay-Jones, Andrew Whitehouse, Anthony Bosco, Carol Bower, Deb Strickland, Elysia Hollams, Gail Alvares, Helen Leonard, Jenny Downs, Kandice Varcin, Martyn Symons, Mitalia Manzurdo, Narelle Mullan
Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) are conditions in which brain development is disrupted. They include autism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and intellectual disability, and affect up to 15% of children. Children with NDDs can experience marked and lifelong difficulties across a number of functional areas, including cognition, emotion, executive function, language and speech, motor skills, behaviour, and learning. The burden for individuals, families, and society is immense. Very early treatment (from birth – 2 years) holds great promise for children at risk of NDDs, as during this period, the developing brain is highly responsive to learning opportunities. Providing targeted treatments in the first few years of life has the potential to positively influence a child's developmental trajectory so that developmental difficulties can be reduced or avoided. Current ways of treating children with NDDs fail to take advantage of this opportunity, because identification and subsequent treatment typically depends on assessment of developmental problems that only emerge from around 2-3 years of age. As a result, current services engage at-risk children later than is optimal or fail to engage them altogether.
Our proposed program of research aims to improve the identification and treatment of children at risk of NDDs. We aim to identify early (birth - 2 years) markers and risk profiles for neurodevelopmental impairment, and to develop and evaluate very early treatments that are personalized to individual strengths and difficulties. By doing this, we hope to promote positive developmental outcomes across the lifespan. Together with strategies that aim to engage optimally with at-risk families and translate screening and intervention principles into policy and practice, this program has the very real potential to revolutionize the clinical management of children at heightened risk of NDDs.
Head, Early Neurodevelopment & Mental Health; Healthway WA Senior Research Fellow+61 8 6319 1808 Email me LinkedIn
Angela Wright Bennett Professor of Autism Research at Telethon Kids and University of Western Australia; Director, CliniKidsEmail me
Senior Principal Research Fellow, Alcohol and Pregnancy & FASD Research; Director, FASD Research Australia CRE08 6319 1813 Email me
MPsych/PhD (Clin.Neuro.) pending thesis examination and course completion, Grad. Dip. (Psych., Pre-Practice), MTeach, Grad. Dip. Legal Practice, LLB (Hons), BA (Hons)
Research Assistant+61411541503 Email me LinkedIn