The University of Wollongong has joined the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC).
The new alliance will see the university contribute to efforts to translate research into real, positive benefits for people on the autism spectrum.
Dr Amanda Webster, a Senior Lecturer in Autism and Inclusive Education in the School of Education and Academic Program Director for the Autism postgraduate programs, will co-ordinate UOW’s collaborations with the Autism CRC.
A world first collaboration between the autism community, researchers, industry and government, Autism CRC takes a whole-of-life approach to autism, from diagnosis and the early years, through the school years and into adult life.
“I am delighted the university is becoming a participant in the Autism CRC,” Dr Webster said.
“This puts UOW researchers into a network of people across Australia who are focused on developing new knowledge and solutions through autism research, and on disseminating and utilising this information to create meaningful supports and services for individuals on the autism spectrum.
“Being a participant in the Autism CRC provides a forum for UOW to engage with a network of autism researchers, professionals, and the greater autism community and opens up opportunities for research and community collaborations and partnerships.”
We believe it’s really important to engage with people on the spectrum to make sure we address the things that are important to them and that will make their lives better, rather than what we as non-autistic people think will make their lives better.Dr Amanda Webster
She added the Autism CRC was committed to participatory and inclusive practice in which the autism community and families were seen as a valuable voice in identifying priorities and undertaking research that has the most relevance for their lives.
“Likewise, at UOW we’re committed to bridging the research-to-practice gap,” Dr Webster said.
“We believe it’s really important to engage with people on the spectrum to make sure we address the things that are important to them and that will make their lives better, rather than what we as non-autistic people think will make their lives better.”
A one-time school leader and behaviour analyst who has worked with children and adults on the autism spectrum and their families for more than 30 years, Dr Webster anticipates that participation in Autism CRC will bring opportunities for UOW researchers across the disciplines.
“Most importantly our involvement with the Autism CRC will link us with a network of researchers and individuals who are committed to inclusive engagement with the autistic community and to developing teaching and research initiatives that result in meaningful impact for the autism community,” she said.