QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute will lead a $1.52 million study into parents’ and children’s experiences living with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and ADHD in Australia with the aim of improving future treatments.
Professor Sarah Medland, who heads QIMR Berghofer’s Psychiatric Genetics Research group, said the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding – announced today by the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt – would boost understanding of ASD and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
It is estimated one in 150 people are diagnosed with ASD in Australia and about five per cent of children are diagnosed with ADHD.
“The focus of this study is to look at the relationship between ASD and ADHD and how that affects families and the community in general,” Professor Medland said.
“We want to know families’ experiences so we can identify genetic and environmental risk factors.
“There’s a big international push to get this done and improve options.
“We aim to ask parents to fill in questionnaires and hope they’ll also provide saliva samples from their children, so we can identify genetic risk factors.
“We are also collecting information from parents because we care about their experiences such as their stress levels, the biggest hurdles they face in education and health care for their children, and what has been difficult and what has worked.
“They are living with ASD and/or ADHD every day, and we need to make sure their knowledge of these disorders is shared so we can improve future treatments for children.
Professor Medland said the study would involve families from every state and territory in Australia, with the grant funding two years of research.
The QIMR Berghofer study is one of five autism research projects that will share almost $4 million of NHMRC grant funding announced today.