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Autism and Development Team

Autism and Development Team

Autism-dev-TeamLab Director: Prof. Tony Charman

Autism and Development Team (ADT)

We aim to increase the understanding of cognitive and behavioural development in individuals with autism and the factors that influence this over time. Our interests extend from the basic science of  cognitive development and behaviour to the clinical application of this work via screening, diagnostic, epidemiological, intervention, and 'at risk' studies.

Find out about the staff that work in the Autism and Development Team.

British Autism Study of Infant Siblings (BASIS)

The British Autism Study of Infant Siblings (BASIS) is a collaborative research network for the study of infants at-risk for autism. The primary aim of BASIS is to provide a platform for the study of infants at-risk for autism in the UK and to facilitate collaborative links between scientists working in the area. Using newly developed techniques for studying brain and behaviour in infants, BASIS scientists investigate whether there are any differences in development between infants who have brothers or sisters with autism and those who do not. In the long term, this will help identify the early signs of the disorder, allowing for earlier and more effective intervention aimed at improving the quality of life of children with autism. BASIS is funded by the Medical Research Council, Autistica and the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI).

As a part of the BASIS network, the ASD team runs two different studies at KCL:

Studying Autism and ADHD Risks (STAARS)

The STAARS study is part of the BASIS network. In the ADT lab at KCL, we see 2- and 3-year-old children who have been participating in this study since infancy. Some of these children have a higher likelihood of developing Autism or ADHD because of an older sibling, or in some cases a parent, with a Autism or ADHD diagnosis.


In SuperSTAARS the ADT team follows-up 6- to 9-year-old children who have previously participated in the BASIS or STAARS studies.


The PACT Trial found that communication-based parent-mediated therapy brought about positive changes in the way that parents and children communicated with each other. In this study, we want to extend the parent-child therapy model to see if we can help children to transfer the newly acquired communication skills from the home to the school. The therapy is delivered by experienced Speech and Language Therapists in the NHS and we will assess the impact of the PACT-G intervention across preschool and middle childhood. The study is sponsored by Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and will run until the end of 2018 recruiting families in the north-east and north-west of England, and London. The PACT-G project is funded by the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) Programme, an Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research partnership.

Improving Autism Mental Health (IAMHealth)

The IAMHealth study is a programme grant funded by the National Institutes of Health Research (NIHR) entitled “Improving outcomes for people with autism spectrum disorders by reducing mental health problems”. The programme started in May 2014 and will run for 5 years. The programme is led by Prof. Emily Simonoff and Tony is involved in the ‘Predictors’ work package that aims to identify early risk and protective factors for mental health problems in people with autism and the ‘Treatment’ work package that develop a parent training intervention to reduce the impact of behavioural difficulties.


European Autism Interventions - A Multicentre Study for Developing New Medications (EU-AIMS) - is the largest single grant for autism in the world, and the largest for the study of any mental health disorder in Europe. EU-AIMS involves a novel collaboration between organisations representing affected individuals and their families (Autism Speaks), academia and industry who for the first time in the world have come together to develop the infrastructure underpinning new treatments for autism. The European Commission and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) fund EU-AIMS as part of the Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI).


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