Sydney researchers have secured funding for a project aiming to develop and evaluate ways to support children with autism as they learn to read and write.
The University of Sydney has been awarded over $1.5 million in funding as part of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Linkage Project Scheme to fund four research teams, with $155,084 to be invested in the Literacy Instruction for Children with Autism project.
Led by Associate Professor Joanne Arciuli, the research team includes Professor Rauno Parrila from Macquarie University and Professor Robert Savage from University College London and will work to find effective ways to teach literacy to children with autism in group settings, such as in schools or clinics.
"It is very exciting that we are able to build on this strong foundation and conduct a larger efficacy trial of ABRACADABRA, and develop new tools, in collaboration with autistic children, their families, their clinicians, and their teachers,” Professor Arcuili says.
“The Luke Priddis Foundation will play a central role in helping us bring together and work with these stakeholders.”
Previously, Professor Arcuili and her team conducted the first-ever studies of ABRACADABRA, a computer-based program developed by researchers at Concordia University, Canada designed specifically to examine the needs of autistic children.
The Literacy Instruction for Children with Autism project will trial the free ABRACADABRA program and involve the development of additional tools to support literacy development in children with autism.
The researchers will also work in partnership with the Luke Priddis Foundation, a not for profit organisation supporting autistic children and their families living in Western Sydney, to produce a model of best practice in the delivery of literacy instruction for children with autism.
She says the foundation is also an ideal partner to work with because of the project’s focus on Western Sydney.
“We want to work in Western Sydney for this project because some families are struggling for resources and we think there is potential for our literacy training and tools to have an impact,” Professor Arciuli explains.
Professor Arciuli hopes the project will offer "an opportunity for parents, clinicians, and educators to engage with us so that we can work together to improve literacy support for children with autism."
She also hopes it will provide a model of best practice that will be useful to service providers beyond the Luke Priddis Foundation, for example, to other multidisciplinary clinics and to schools.
If you are interested in the project or have further questions you can email Professor Arciuli at [email protected]