BBRG researchers have partnered with the NSW Department of Family and Community Services to run an IT Club out of the University of New England. The ASD-IT Club is helping local children and teenagers with Autism Spectrum Disorder make positive changes to their levels of anxiety, social interaction and the development of IT skills. Each session runs over a six-week period, and researchers are seeing substantial improvements in the social communication and interaction skills of the participants.
Understanding the brains of children with Autism
Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) also suffer from anxiety to such an extent that they are unable to function well at school or in social situations. One of the aspects of their environment that these children find to be most distressing is an overload of sensory stimuli – sights, sounds, smells and touch. However, little is known about how their brains deal with this overload. In this research we work with children from the community who have been diagnosed with ASD. The research involves measuring the brain activity of these children while resting, and when exposed to sensory stimulation conditions, to better understand how the brain responds in different situations. The project aims to form a model that can be used to restructure classrooms, so that children with ASD can progress more successfully at school.
Measuring the consequences of homelessness
Homelessness is a major social problem in many nations, and Australia is no exception. We are conducting research with Homes North Community Housing, a local housing provider, to measure the neurobiological and psychological impacts of homelessness. This research will help us to understand the severity of mental health problems among homeless people, in particular the effects of elevated anxiety and depression. Participants in this study are individuals living in social housing in Armidale, Glen Innes, Gunnedah, Inverell, Moree and Tamworth. The study will measure the changes that occur to homeless people when they are housed, and will also trial an intervention aimed at assisting previously-homeless people develop more effective social and employment skills.