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Emotional health in young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders
It is widely acknowledged that individuals with Autism are particularly vulnerable to experiencing co-occurring anxiety and mood disorders, with rates higher than in typically developing individuals. Adolescents and young adults may be at particular risk due to an awareness of their social difficulties and differences. Associate Professor Jane McGillivray at the CMHWR has led a study of nearly 100 young people with Autism, establishing high levels of self-reported symptoms of depression and anxiety, with many individuals scoring in the severe/extreme range in one or both areas. Although fewer in number, females were significantly more impaired than males. Together with associate researcher Dr Helen Evert, Jane has drawn on these findings to develop a targeted group intervention program that emphasizes strengths and coping, while challenging distortions in thinking.
Why is there a delay in diagnosing girls with Autism?
Recent work by Associate Professor Alex Head with Associate Professors Mark Stokes and Jane McGillivray has found that young women with autism are frequently not diagnosed until relatively later in life. It is possible that this is because young girls are better than young boys at presenting a social ‘veneer’ of normalcy while hiding an underlying problem. Further work is being done to find out how to detect such ‘camouflage’ autism in young girls.
National Blueprint for Disability Services
The Western Australia Minister for Mental Health & Disability Services, the Hon Helen Morton MP, has recently launched a report by Associate Professor Keith McVilly documenting the impact, effectiveness, & future application of Positive Behaviour Teams (PBTs) in the provision of disability support services in Western Australia. The report is the result of a 2 1/2 year research project, and will provide a national blueprint for services to families supporting a child or young adult with disability and challenging behaviour. Further details; http://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/Results.aspx?ItemID=148239
Pharmacology and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Behaviours of concern and psychiatric co-morbidity
People with Autism Spectrum Disorder are at increased risk of developing behaviours of concern and co-morbid psychiatric illnesses. Although controversial, pharmacological interventions in this population are common. Belinda Minett and Associate Prof Jane McGillivray have examined the extent and type of drugs prescribed to people with ASD; the reasons for use and perceived outcomes from the perspective of individuals with ASD and caregivers via an online anonymous survey. Finding to date show extensive use management of emotional and behavioural difficulties, with a variety of outcomes.
Keynote Address by Associate Professor Keith McVilly
At the British Institute of Learning Disabilities International Research & Practice Conference at Cardiff, Wales, in May. The title of his speech will be: Planning for quality and quality planning – reflections on research and practice in positive behaviour support plan development and review. In addition he will participate in a pre-conference workshop with an address titled: Front-line leadership: an essential focus when fostering positive behaviour support. Further details; http://www.bild.org.uk/our-services/events/the-bild-pbs-conference/