'Tall Poppy' for Deakin ADHD researcher

10 November 2016

Dr Emma Sciberras has been honoured in this year’s ‘Young Tall Poppy’ Science Awards.

Dr Emma Sciberras, a senior lecturer within Deakin University’s School of Psychology and a practicing child psychologist, has received a 2016 “Young Tall Poppy” Science Award.

The award recognises Dr Sciberras’ research into outcomes for children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and the risk and resilience factors for health, learning and development in these children.

As one of Australia’s leading researchers on ADHD, Dr Sciberras established the country’s first ADHD cohort study, the National Health and Medical Research Council-funded Children’s Attention Project, which is investigating the long-term effects that ADHD has on children's behaviour, learning and day-to-day living.

Dr Sciberras explained that while stimulant medication is the main treatment for managing the symptoms of the 300,000 young people with ADHD in Australia, it doesn’t improve overall outcomes.

Her work is developing evidence-based interventions to promote positive outcomes for children with ADHD, including how to reduce the impact of sleep difficulties and anxiety.

“My research has found that anxiety and sleep problems are common in ADHD and contribute to worse outcomes, including poorer quality of life. However, these problems tend to get missed when children with ADHD attend clinics,” she said.

That led Dr Sciberras to pioneer interventions to help children with ADHD to manage their anxiety and sleep difficulties.

The interventions have been associated with improved ADHD symptoms and broader wellbeing for children and Dr Sciberras is now leading the development of a similar sleep intervention for adolescents with ADHD.

As a “Young Tall Poppy” Award recipient, Dr Sciberras will participate in the Tall Poppy Campaign. This will provide her with opportunities to talk about her research with school students, teachers and communities across Australia – helping to inspire a new generation to get passionate about science.

“My research area has previously attracted negative media coverage, so community-engagement activities are incredibly important in reducing the stigma associated with the condition and to provide balanced and evidence-based messages about ADHD,” she said.

“I was the only ‘Tall Poppy’ award recipient working in the area of mental health and it’s pleasing that non-lab based research work can also receive recognition through these awards.”

The Tall Poppy Campaign was created in 1998 by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science to recognise and celebrate Australian intellectual and scientific excellence and encourage younger Australians to follow in the footsteps of outstanding achievers.

The Young Tall Poppy Science Awards recognise scientific achievers who are in the early stage of their careers, have already made discoveries and have demonstrated their leadership in communicating science and engaging the public.

Key Fact

"Tall Poppy" Dr Emma Sciberras is pioneering new interventions to help children with ADHD.

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