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Curtin plays key role in $31 million autism research centre

Media release

Curtin University is set to play a key role in the newly established $31 million Cooperative Research Centre that will improve the lives of Australians living with autism.

Curtin researchers will work collaboratively with other leading scientists in Australia and from around the globe to investigate the diagnosis, education and acquisition of life skills for people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

ASD is one of the most severe, prevalent and heritable of all neurodevelopmental disorders, and affects at least one in 100 children.

Professor Lorna Rosenwax, Head of Curtin’s School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, congratulated Curtin researchers and partner organisations on the successful funding for the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).

“The CRC unites some of the world’s greatest researchers in autism and this research partnership is expected to benefit more than one million Australians, improving their quality of life, education and employment options,” said Professor Rosenwax.

Curtin University has a track-record in autism research having worked with the Autism Association of Western Australia for the past few years as part of a $2.5 million initiative to provide child care services to children aged 0 to six years with autism.

“We are proud to be one of the key partners on this project, which is the first of its kind in the world focusing on ASD.”

Curtin is a key player in one of the three programs. Professor Torbjorn Falkmer, from the School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, together with Associate Professor Tele Tan from Curtin’s School of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, will lead work on finding a place in society, focusing on adults living with the condition. Dr Annette Joosten, also from Curtin’s School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, will be responsible for targeting school-aged children.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way people and children communicate, interact and connect with the world around them.  More than one in 100 individuals are on the autism spectrum. That’s around 230,000 Australians who have an autism spectrum disorder.