In Australia, mental health problems can occur in even our youngest children. There is a growing rate of anxiety, depression and self-injury in primary school children. If left undetected or untreated, this can develop into significant health problems in the teenage years, including eating disorders, substance abuse, school delinquency and psychiatric illnesses.
Furthermore, over 650,000 Australian children have a developmental brain disorder that makes them vulnerable to reduced educational, social and occupational outcomes. At the heart of this vulnerability is an underdeveloped cognitive system, which if strengthened in early life when the brain is most sensitive to change, will offer new hope for a brighter path across the childhood years.
At the Turner Institute, we are the first in the world to have developed novel interactive technologies designed for young children to train and strengthen cognitive capacity. We are also expanding into interventions geared towards improving social and emotional wellbeing. Our technologies are designed to be accessible to all Australian children regardless of their cultural upbringing, life history or demographic background. We want all young Australians to have the best possible start in life.
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Our areas of research expertise include:
- Detecting and improving cognitive and impulsivity difficulties in young children
- Understanding difference and similarities in children with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Tracing the impact of very early preterm births on the developing brain
- Novel family based approaches to developing resilience in young ‘at risk’ adolescents
- Development of novel training interventions and virtual assistance to improve learning in the early years