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What is this research study about?

We know that many young people find it difficult to deal with their social life. Some young people, especially those who are autistic, find it particularly challenging. This project is trying to understand why that’s the case.

Why should I help?

Given the negative impact that social communication difficulties and anxiety can have on an individual’s mental health and wellbeing, there is a great need for more research to determine the reasons underpinning these difficulties and to develop effective support.

This study will allow us to develop a clearer picture of young autistic people's experiences of the social world, and to inform ways of creating more accommodating environments for young autistic people to thrive.

Who can take part?

You are invited to take part in this study if you are aged between 12 and 17 years old, with or without a diagnosis of autism.

Who is conducting this study?

Simon Brett, Professor Liz Pellicano and Professor Jennie Hudson from Macquarie University will be conducting this study. International collaborator, Professor Bhismadev Chakrabarti from the University of Reading, United Kingdom is also involved in the study.

What will I be asked to do?

1. Young people will complete standard tests of their language and reasoning abilities;

2. Young people will take part in two, fun computer games. The first game simply asks them to look at positive pictures of social scenes, such as one or more people smiling, and positive pictures of non-social scenes, such as images of food or money, while a machine called an ‘eye tracker’ traces their eye movements. The second game focuses on a ‘treasure hunt’. Young people have to decide where they think the treasure is hidden based on information provided during the game.

3. Parents are asked to complete four questionnaires – one about their family’s background and developmental history, one about their child’s social communication skills, one about their child’s feelings of anxiety and one about their child’s tolerance of uncertainty.

When and where?

Young people will either be seen on a single occasion lasting around 3 hours, at the Australian Hearing Hub (Macquarie University Campus), or for two separate sessions at Macquarie University.

To find out more about the study and register to participate:


Telephone: 0460419343

Twitter: @simonbrett1294

Please feel free to forward this information to others who might also be interested in participating.

Phone us to discuss how we can help you.

Call 1800 277 328

Send us a message and we'll get back to you.

Enquire with Autism Spectrum Australia