Deakin University study to give a voice to people with Autism

29 March 2011

Deakin University psychology researchers want to give people with Autism and their carers a voice in discussions around the use of medication to manage symptoms of the disorder.

Researchers with Deakin’s Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Jane McGillivray and Belinda Minett, are undertaking a study of the extent, experiences and attitudes about medication use by people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including Asperger Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Delay. They are calling on people throughout Australia with the disorder and their care-givers to take part in the research.

“Little is known about the perspectives of the individuals themselves regarding the use of medication to manage the behaviours and mental health issues inherent with the disorder,” Associate Professor McGillivray said.

“There is some information on the types of medication used and the reason for its prescription. In Victoria, for example, disability service providers are required to report medication use when it is for control of behaviour and is considered a restrictive intervention. However there is little research in the wider ASD population and where medication may be prescribed for the treatment of specific emotional or physical symptoms.

“Through our study we want to hear what people with ASD have to say about using medication; why are they taking medication, how do they feel about it. It is time to add their voice to the discussions around the best treatment alternatives for managing the conditions associated with the disorder.”

Associate Professor McGillivray said the results of the study will inform the practice of prescribing medication for individuals with ASD.

“The study results will fill the gaps in our knowledge of the experiences and perspectives of people with ASD, as well as those who directly care for them. The information will assist individuals, care-givers and practitioners to make informed choices regarding managing the symptoms of ASD, whether it be through medication or other alternatives.”

The researchers would like people aged over 18 years who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder and are currently taking medication to share their experiences through the online, anonymous survey at Responses from care-givers of children and adults are also welcomed.

News facts
  • Study to look at use of medication to manage symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Little is known about how people with the disorder, and their carers, feel about the use of medication
  • People with ASD and their carers invited to take online survey

Media contact

Mandi O'Garretty
Deakin Media Relations
03 5227 2776; 0418 361 890

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29th March 2011