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Churchill Fellowship to further Autism Spectrum Disorder research

Bond University Associate Professor of Behavioural Management, Counselling and Psychology Dr Vicki Bitsika, has been awarded a 2010 Churchill Fellowship to investigate specialised intervention technologies for children and adolescents with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The Fellowship will fund Dr Bitsika’s travel to the United Kingdom and United States to further her research into Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and to share world’s best practice with Australian families and the professional community through the new Centre for Autism Spectrum Disorder (CASD) at Bond University, which will officially open later this year.

The Centre for Autism Spectrum Disorder will hold its first community presentation tomorrow night at 5.15pm, Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at Bond University. The Gold Coast community has responded overwhelmingly with more than 420 people registering.  

The Queensland State Shadow Health Minister, the Hon. Mark McArdle, paediatricians, Queensland Health, Queensland police, schools teachers, parents and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder are amongst those expected to attend.

Dr Bitsika is Director of the CASD; she explained the Centre was initiated as a result of the substantial need for specialised services in the Gold Coast autism community.

“Autism affects approximately 1 in every 160 people.  The Centre for Autism Spectrum Disorder is a multidisciplinary research facility dedicated to assisting people on the autism spectrum and those committed to improving their lives” said Dr Bitsika.

“In addition to offering evidence-based services to people with an autism disorder, the Centre also aims to provide support to family members and specialised training for professionals working with ASD people in the education and mental health fields.

“There are a number of research studies currently being undertaken in the Centre, all of which are focused on offering direct help. One focus is on investigating the sensory experiences of school children in the classroom in order to help explain how typical learning environments can cause extreme anxiety for children with an ASD.

“Current research initiatives are also focused on the families of people with an ASD in order to identify the best ways to meet their particular needs. This research targets parents of children with an ASD and partners of adults with Aspergers Disorder. These groups face tremendous challenges and if we understand their experiences, we can develop tailored treatments to assist them in the long-term,” she said.

Dr Bitsika says her goal is to create an environment where people with an ASD have opportunities for personal success, access to specialised services and understanding from the community.

About The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was established after the death of Sir Winston Churchill to honour his memory by awarding Australians fellowships that allow them the opportunity to travel overseas to further their passion and return with benefits to Australia.

Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Chief Executive Officer, Paul Tys, said; "This year's Churchill Fellows, like their predecessors, are hardworking, inspiring Australians who will make a difference to our country over the coming decades.”

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