Wales Autism Research Centre launched in Cardiff|
CARDIFF, Wales: The Wales Autism Research Centre - set up with support from charities Autism Cymru and Autistica and from the Assembly Government ( as part of its autistic spectrum disorder strategic action plan) - was launched at Cardiff University on September 23 with the aim of improving scientific understanding of autism and make positive changes for those affected and their families.
The centre will research new areas in identification, diagnosis, development and intervention. Projects already under way include research on sensory processing using neuro-imaging techniques and research on clinical symptoms and diagnostic tools and research on the effects of interventions.
The centre is currently researching the responses of people with autism to vision, sound and touch to see whether these linked symptoms can help with diagnosis of the condition.
The director of the new centre, Professor Susan Leekam, said: "These linked symptoms are very common in people diagnosed with autism. People with autism and medical professionals know about these linked symptoms but they need to be researched further in order to become better recognised.
"With vision, for example, we're looking at unusual responses to light and the fact that you often find people with autism will pick up objects and look at them from different angles. With sensitivity to sound, a siren blaring may seem much louder to someone with autism or they may be able to hear something that most people wouldn't such as a a sweet wrapper being opened some distance away."
The centre is currently looking for adults diagnosed with autism to take part in their research into touch. If interested in the study you can email the centre on firstname.lastname@example.org.
As well as research projects, the new centre will also help frame policy.
The centre 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.
The Welsh Health Minister, Edwina Hart, attended the launch of the centre, which is based at Cardiff University's school of psychology.
"The launch of the Wales Autism Research Centre marks the beginning of an exceptional opportunity to advance scientific research in Wales and internationally," Professor Leekam added. "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."
(Sources: BBC News Online, Western Mail, September 23, 2010)