Faculty of Health

University of Tasmania Autism Network (UTAN)


Improving the health of children and adults with ASD and their families.

The University of Tasmania Autism Network (UTAN) is a cross disciplinary group of academics, clinicians and disability support staff who undertake research about and with children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), their families and the broader community. A key focus of the research is improving the health of children and adults with ASD and their families, including their physical, mental, emotional and social health.

We take a holistic approach to our research in recognition of the fact that the health of a person is influenced by all aspects of their life and across their lifespan. A key focus are interventions that: improve access to services and service delivery; remove barriers to participation and engagement in education; improve accessibility, enhance wellbeing, and foster social engagement in the design of the built environment; and provide support for children and adults with ASD and their families.

Specialist areas of investigation

Major achievements/grants

  • Department of Social Services: Assessing the readiness of mainstream childhood education and care centres to provide ASD early intervention (Contact: Dr Damhnat McCann)
  • National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE): Supporting students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Higher Education (Contact: Dr Ceridwen Owen)
  • Tasmanian Community Fund: Using exercise to improve the health of Tasmanian caregivers (Contact: Dr Damhnat McCann)

Projects

At Home with Autism

Dr Ceridwen Owen and Dr Damhnat McCann

Funding body: University of Tasmania - Research Enhancement Grant Scheme

This research explores how adaptations to the family home to support the care of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) impact on the wellbeing of carers through transforming meanings of ‘home’. The pilot study uniquely employed the visual-based method of self-directed photography where data is gathered through photographs taken by participants in combination with in-depth interviews.

Publications and Presentations

  • Owen, C. & McCann, D. (2013) “Picturing home: self-directed photography as a lens to explore the home environment in the care of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder”, 7th Australasian Housing Researchers' Conference: Refereed Proceedings, 6-8 February 2013, Fremantle, Australia, pp. 1-18.
  • Owen, C. & McCann, D. (2015) “Home adaptation and modifications in families living with a child with ASD”. Presentation at the Australia Pacific Autism Conference, Brisbane Australia 9-11 September 2015.

Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Higher Education

Dr Ceridwen Owen, Ms Damhnat McCann, Dr Christopher Rayner, Ms Carol Devereaux, Ms Fiona Sheehan & Dr Lyndsay Quarmby

Funding body: National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education

This project targets improvements in support for higher education students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in light of the substantive existing and anticipated future growth of this population, and the failure of existing supports to meet their complex and unique needs. The research explores disability supports, pedagogical initiatives and the design of the built environment within a holistic framework of support.

The research draws on a review of published literature combined with a cross-sectional analysis of existing supports in Australian institutions and an in-depth analysis of the experience of students at one Australian university to identify key opportunities and gaps in the provision of support for students with ASD.

The key outcomes and recommendations of the research relate to the provision of holistic disability supports, pedagogical innovations, inclusive design solutions and the potential under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for funding to support students with ASD in higher education.

Publications and Presentations

  • Final report Owen et al (2016) Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Higher Education. Report submitted to the National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education (NCSEHE), Curtin University: Perth. https://www.ncsehe.edu.au/publications/supporting-students-with-autism-spectrum-disorder-in-higher-education/
  • Owen, C. and McCann, D. (2016) “Supporting students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in higher education through the design of the built environment”. XI Autism-Europe International Congress, Edinburgh, 16-18 September 2016.
  • Owen, C., McCann, D., Rayner, Cl, Devereaux, C. “Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Higher Education”, Paper presented at the Research Informing Equity Policy and Practice in HE II  Symposium, Australian Association for Research in Education, Freemantle WA, 30 Nov-3 Dec 2015

Design Across the Spectrum: Playspaces

Dr Ceridwen Owen in collaboration with Master of Architecture students at the University of Tasmania

These design guidelines have been developed to inspire more inclusive design of playgrounds for children with ASD. Specifically, the guidelines target mainstream primary school settings, although many of the principles could be adapted and applied in other contexts.

  • Owen, C. (2016) Design Across the Spectrum: Playspaces (Downloaded PDF)

Designblindness: mapping theories of good city form for individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Cathryn Kerr (PhD candidate) supervised by Dr Ceridwen Owen and Prof Elaine Stratford

Key Information


Name: University of Tasmania Autism Network (UTAN)

Established: 2015

Research Team:

Contact details:

Postal Address: C/O Locked bag 1322, University of Tasmania

Telephone: (03) 6324 3812

Email: Autism.Network@utas.edu.au

Research theme areas: