Autism Spectrum Australia

Aspect research team

The role of the research team is to plan, support and implement research and evaluation for the continuous improvement of Aspect services; and to facilitate external research projects involving Aspect clients, families or staff.

Debra Costley, Ph.D. - National Director Aspect Practice

Debra is responsible for strategic leadership of the Aspect research and development program. Debra has responsibility for research and development of models of best practice for the teaching of young people and adults on the spectrum within Aspect. She also chairs the Aspect Research Approvals Committee.

Debra is a special educator with over 20 years’ experience in special education teaching and research. Debra has worked in special schools, further and higher education in the UK, USA, and Australia. Before joining Aspect she was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Western Sydney and a Principal Research Fellow at the University of Warwick in the UK. Her Ph.D. was a policy analysis and evaluation of the introduction of a national curriculum in England and Wales and the impact of that intervention on children with learning difficulties.

Trevor Clark, Ph.D. - National Director Education

Trevor has executive responsibility for the Aspect Educational Outreach program and eight schools including 92 satellite classes.Trevor is a special educator with comprehensive experience and knowledge of educational programs and service provision for students on the autism spectrum as a result of over 25 years in the field in New Zealand, England and Australia. His experience at Aspect comprises that of teacher, school principal and Director, Education & Research. He completed his doctorate in 2001 at the University of New South Wales, which involved a curriculum designed to make functional use of savant and splinter skills in children on the autism spectrum.

Susan Bruck, Ph.D. - Aspect Practice Research Officer

Susan is a researcher and educator. Susan has a keen interest in universal accessibility, and has many years of experience in teaching children and adults. At Aspect Susan is involved with many research projects and is a member of the Aspect Research Approvals Committee.

Before joining Aspect, Susan held lecture and research positions at Macquarie University. Her doctoral research provided evidence that watching three-dimensional movement on a computer screen can increase and individual’s anxiety level, under certain conditions. The findings are important for the development of educational applications, therapeutic interventions and entertainment programs.

Kaaren Haas, B.Sc., MA, Research Assistant

Kaaren assists with the design, implementation and reporting of research studies undertaken by Aspect, including those within the Autism CRC Programs.

Kaaren recently completed her Masters in information research at UTS, with a particular interest in qualitative research and information search for the social sciences. Her research interests focus on issues of social, demographic and attitudinal change; social justice, equality and diversity; and behavioural aspects of public and mental health issues. In her studies she has completed original research studies on the non-help seeking behaviour of young people with mental health problems; social media activism for gender equality in Australia;  an analysis of the study and work patterns of young Australians on completing Year 12; and has conducted numerous literature reviews. In 2014, Kaaren was the lead author on a report for the Autism CRC identifying what encourages and discourages adults in their participation in autism research.

Prior to her work in information research, Kaaren held positions as communication manager for a number of leading Australian corporations and as a policy and research officer with the Australian government.

Kerry Ritzrow, B.A., Research & Administration Assistant

Kerry Ritzrow is the Research & Administration Assistant for Aspect Practice and Research.  She has worked for Aspect for 3 years.  Kerry has responsibility for the administration of Aspect Practice on a day to day basis which includes receiving internal and external research applications and allocating them to the Aspect Research Approvals Committee; managing the research area of the Aspect website; following up approved research and posting summaries of outcomes on the website; and supporting Aspect research projects. Kerry also coordinates Aspect Practice workshops, consultancies, and promotions.

Kerry has a BA from Sydney University and a Diploma of Counselling and is a certified professional supervisor.  She has extensive experience with children on the spectrum.

Aspect Practice Specialists

Aspect research team