It is estimated over 1% of New Zealanders have Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can profoundly affect individuals and families. The number of people affected by ASD has risen dramatically over the last 20 years and the research community is making tremendous progress in understanding of the causes of ASD.
What is autism spectrum disorder?
Autism spectrum disorder is a group of complex brain development disorders that typically begin in childhood. It is estimated to affect more than one in 100 New Zealanders. It is characterised by decreased social interactions and language skills, combined with rigid or repetitive behaviour patterns. However, this definition does not capture the broad spectrum of people with ASD – every person with ASD is different.
Although there has been tremendous progress investigating the mechanisms underlying ASD, there is still very little known about the cause in individuals and families. This means that families sometimes struggle for a diagnosis, and appropriate targeted support.
Educational and social support for families is offered by our founding community organisations.
For neurologist, Dr Rosamund Hill, it is more than a field of research – her own son, Claude, is profoundly autistic. Rosamund invites us into Claude’s world as she explains the motivation behind Minds for Minds.
The Minds for Minds Research Network
One of the formation projects of the network is a genetic study into DNA variations that may cause ASD. The insights gained from this work will inform us of how the wiring in the brain differs in ASD. The genetic results can be immediately useful for families, and will ultimately assist in clinical, social and educational outcomes in New Zealand.
Alongside this study is the investigation of the possible effects of gut microbial communities in ASD.
New Zealand has an excellent clinical network, which put us in a privileged position to make a major contribution to the global effort to better understand and help those with ASD.
More information on these projects, and how you can register can be found here.
The Minds for Minds Charitable Trust
The research is also supported by the Minds for Minds Charitable Trust. Their mission is to raise funds to help support as many families as possible to be sequenced and be included in further research
Founding Community Members
We are thrilled to have the following Minds for Minds founding community members as part of our wider network:
For further information available from Government agencies: