BioAutism raises funds to support autism research. We make small grants to researchers undertaking discrete studies and we support research oganisations such as the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) with more significant long term funding.
BioAutism has strong ties to the research community through its dedicated Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). This enables it to facilitate collaborative research between research bodies. An excellent example of this is the 'Loss of skills' research project which is being coordinated by MCRI and involves researchers from Monash University.
Loss of Skills project update
Nearly two per cent of children up to the age of 11 are diagnosed with autism, with 30 per cent of those said to have lost language and social skills over time. Of those who lose skills, a smaller proportion will experience substantial regression over a period of just weeks or months. Little is known about the causes of this severe and rapid loss of skills.
The ‘Loss of Skills’ study has been collecting high-quality information about children with autism or social and communication impairments consistent with autism who have a substantial loss of skills. By focusing on children up to age seven, researchers hope to discover possible causes as well as describe clinical subtypes of loss of skills, and to be able to link the two.
The study is led by Professor Katrina Williams, head of the department of paediatrics at Monash University, overseen by Dr Kirsten Furley, paediatrician and PhD student, and involves a speech pathologist and psychologist. The ‘Loss of Skills’ research project is part of MCRI’s larger Pathways to Autism project that aims to understand the condition by studying groups of children with neurodevelopmental differences to identify patterns that could shed light on other types of autism.
The project ultimately aims to recruit 20 children with a diagnosis of autism and a history of lost skills during their development, with a follow up period of 1 year. The study is anticipated to finish at the end of 2023.
Information from the study, and other work by the team into skill loss, has led to the award of a large research grant to Professor Katrina Williams, now working at Monash University, to allow establishment of a new clinic at Monash Children's Hospital for children and families at the time skill loss is noticed, and to trial innovative early intervention approaches to assist families.