Childhood to Adolescence

This stream covers the delicate transition between childhood and adolescence, one that crosses sexual reproductive maturity, and one that marks the extension of attachment networks beyond parents to include peers, teachers, and other mentors. For many, these networks will provide the security needed to explore integrate new experiences of positive and painful emotion, and to clarify values important to secure social connections. For others, lack of a secure base will lead to unregulated emotion and create risk for mental health, drug use,  and behaviour problems. We focus on the earliest opportunities to promote emotional regulation and social connection for all children. This stream is designed to reach all children by having a specialist research centre dedicated to children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and ADHD (Deakin  Child Study Centre).

Our aims are:

  1. to define developmentally appropriate indicators of emotional growth from late childhood into adolescence

  2. to link these to developmentally targeted interventions that address risk and promote wellbeing

  3. to support the development of a comprehensive monitoring program through developmentally integrated (Conception to Adulthood) clinical, educational and public health services.

Research Focus Areas

Deakin Child Study Centre (DCSC)

The Deakin Child Study Centre is a specialist research centre committed to supporting children and young people living with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Autism. Key projects run through the centre include:

This project examines barriers to physical activity in children with autism. The AFL and Deakin University have partnered together to develop and promote inclusive practices for children with autism. The project also includes children who have related and commonly co-morbid developmental challenges.

The Sleeping Sound with Autism ProjectThis project is a brief, targeted sleep intervention in a large randomised controlled trial group with and without autism. This research follows the Sleeping Sound with ADHD efficacy trial.

The Sleeping Sound in Adolescence ProjectThis study aims to develop a sleep intervention suitable for adolescents with ADHD. The project aims to examine whether treating sleep problems in adolescents with ADHD improves not  only sleep but broader child and family outcomes.

The Calm Kids Project A novel RCT to test the efficacy of an existing CBT intervention adapted for children aged 8–12 years with ADHD and anxiety. Pilot data shows that at 5-months post-randomisation, 50% of intervention children were free of an anxiety diagnosis (assessed by blinded diagnostic assessment) compared with controls.

The ASAP Project An interactive portal for teachers to use in the classroom to support and improve learning outcomes for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The ASAP Tool focuses on four key domains of school functioning: communication, social interaction, focused interests and preferred activities.

Child and Adolescence Emotional Growth Indicators

Middle Childhood Development Index

The purpose of the Middle Childhood Development Index Project is to test a new set of socio-emotional indicators for monitoring development across childhood put together by colleagues from the University of British Columbia. The first community implementation of the MDI in Victorian communities occurred in 2016. Further testing of the MDI within Australian longitudinal dataset will also be undertaken across 2017.

Adolescent Development Index

The purpose of the Adolescent Development Indicator Project is to identify a definitive set of socio-emotional indicators as they relate to the period spanning puberty and adolescence. The ADI will be developed within leading Australian longitudinal datasets running through SEED, the Melbourne Children’s Campus, and the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth.