Investigators: Amy Finlay-Jones, Andrew Whitehouse, Helen Leonard, Jenny Downs, Kiah Evans, Martyn Symons, Melissa Licari
Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) are conditions in which brain development is disrupted. They include conditions such as intellectual disability, autism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and cumulatively affect approximately 15% of children. Children with NDDs can experience marked and lifelong difficulties across a number of functional areas, including cognition, emotion, executive function, communication, motor skills, behaviour, and learning. The burden for individuals, families, and society is immense. Very early support (before 2 years of age) holds great promise for children at risk of NDDs, as during this period, the developing brain is highly responsive to learning opportunities. Providing targeted supports in the first few years of life has the potential to help reduce or avoid the difficulties experienced by children with NDDs. Currently, this window of opportunity is often missed, because identification and treatment typically depends on assessment of developmental problems that only emerge around 2-3 years of age. As a result, current services reach at-risk children later than is optimal or may miss them altogether.
Our research aims to improve the identification and treatment of children at risk of NDDs. We aim to identify very early signs and risk profiles for neurodevelopmental impairment, and to develop and evaluate support strategies for infants and very young children that are personalized to their individual strengths and difficulties. By doing this, we hope to give them the best start possible and promote better outcomes across the lifespan. Together with strategies that aim to work closely with at-risk families and turn screening and intervention principles into policy and practice realities, this program has the very real potential to revolutionize the clinical management of children at heightened risk of NDDs.
- Valsamma Eapen (University of New South Wales)
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
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