School Project

Little boys and girl happily sitting under umbrella in park
 What are we doing?

We are using our research evidence in a new project about the signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The research is based on this publication: Signposting for diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder using the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO). Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 9, 45-52. (10.1016/j.rasd.2014.10.003).

We are carrying out this research in partnership with the national Learning with Autism Programme from the Welsh Government. The Learning with Autism Programme is designed to help staff in mainstreams schools to recognise the signs of autism and adapt their day to day practice accordingly. The research project is linked to a small part of this programme.

Who is involved?
Our team includes researchers, members of the Welsh Government/Public Health Wales and colleagues from Education (Service Manager for Additional Learning Needs and Educational Psychologists). We also thank The Parent Network, Caerphilly County Borough for their consultation on the design of the research. The first part of this project is focused on the Caerphilly area of Wales [link to map here].

Financial support for the research has been provided by WARC foundation funds from Cardiff University. Support for parent participation has been made possible thanks to two charitable donations: one from Sir Thomas White Lodge and one from Craig Kennedy.

How are we doing it?
We are researching the reliability of a set of autism signs that are described within the Learning with Autism programme. This means that we aim to find out, how consistent the signs are when observed by different people and in different contexts. In addition are working with the Welsh Government to advise on the evaluation of the part of the Learning with Autism programme called Do you know the Signs?

Where have we got so far?
Thanks to The Parent Network, Caerphilly County Borough, we have gathered initial feedback from parents. We have also gained ethics approval for the research. After revising and testing the research materials further, we will be carrying out the project in primary schools in the Caerphilly area in the coming few months. More on this soon!

The Signs School Project Research Team

  • University members: Researchers: Prof Sue Leekam, Dr Catherine Jones, Prof Dale Hay, Sarah Barrett, Wales Autism Research Centre (WARC), School of Psychology, Cardiff University and Dr Sarah Carrington, Psychology, Aston University. Educational Psychologists: Andrea Higgins, Ian Smillie, Dr. Kyla Honey, Cardiff University.
  • Welsh Government and Education members: Johanna Manikiza, Welsh Local Government Association and Public Health Wales: Gaby Worgan, Welsh Local Government Association: Jacquelyn Elias, Service Manager Additional Learning Needs, Caerphilly County Council.