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Advancing knowledge of Autism

23 Medi 2010

Autism testing

Advancing scientific understanding of Autism to create positive change for the individuals and families affected by the disorder is the focus of a new centre officially launched at the University.

The Wales Autism Research Centre at the School of Psychology has been established with support from the charities Autism Cymru and Autistica, and from the Welsh Assembly Government as part of its Autistic Spectrum Disorder Strategic Action Plan.

On Thursday 23rd September, the Centre had its official launch, attended by Welsh Assembly Minister for Health and Social Services, Edwina Hart and other guests including the people who will benefit from the Centres work.

Autism affects up to one child in every 100. Those affected have difficulties in communicating, forming relationships and making sense of the world. The new Centre will research new areas in identification, diagnosis, development and intervention.

Director of the Centre, Professor Susan Leekam said: "The launch of the Wales Autism Research Centre marks the beginning of an exceptional opportunity to advance scientific research in Wales and internationally. We will not only be carrying out internationally competitive research projects but also helping to build evidence-based policy and practice. This mission is supported by partnerships between scientists, practitioners and government policy makers, and makes the purpose of this research centre unique in the UK".

The Centre already has a number of new projects underway. These include research on sensory processing using neuroimaging techniques, research on clinical symptoms and diagnostic tools and research on the effects of interventions. The team has also been contributing to a schools training programme, evaluating diagnosis services, assisting with awareness-raising materials and investigating the potential for new databases of information.

Researchers at the Wales Autism Research Centre have also set up new collaborations and networks with the University’s pioneering Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC) and Cardiff Neurosciences Centre.

The Welsh Assembly Government’s Strategic Action Plan for Autism Spectrum Disorder is believed to be the first of its kind anywhere in the world. Uniquely, the Centre works with practitioners and government policy makers within this action plan to integrate research evidence with policy and practice. It also aims to raise public and professional and awareness of autism research, highlighting the importance of reliable, scientific evidence and breaking down some of the myths surrounding it.

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