Our Research

Research for Learning

Since our beginning, research has underpinned everything that we do. 

At Learning for Life Autism Centre (L4Life) we use this knowledge and evidence to continually evaluate and update our services and approaches to supporting both autistic children and their families.  We consider the needs of our clients, their families, schools, communities and our staff and identify areas in need of evaluation and further research.

We do this by ensuring that all of the services we provide have data collection built into them and we have processes in place to evaluate that data at different levels.

We are constantly evaluating what we do, whether that be the individual services we provide to particular children or the way in which we train therapy assistants. This ensures that we can confidently say that we are always providing evidence-informed services.

Clinical-based Subcommittees

Two of L4Life's subcommittees - the Research and Best Practice Subcomittees - bring together representatives from our board, executive and clinical teams to support, set intentions and contribute to the evolution of our family-centred, evidence based services and the research that underpins them.

Best Practice Subcommittee

The role of the Best Practice Subcommittee is to oversee the clinical leadership and strategic advice on the delivery of high-quality family centred and evidence based services delivered by L4Life.

The subcommittee is responsible for advising the Board on effective program service delivery and training through:

  • driving a person-centred approach to care and service provision that meets individual needs, with an emphasis on supporting and empowering people to achieve their potential;
  • focussing on the provision of high quality Applied Behaviour Analysis delivery to target age groups including pre-school, primary school and secondary school aged clients;
  • provision of training services that are well researched and meet all NDIS standards;
  • promotion of a culture of continuous improvement through informed evidence-based decision making;
  • a practice of inclusivity and collaboration in forming recommendations;
  • providing timely, independent and constructive advice that translates into practical recommendations.

Members: Emma Miller (Chair), Pam Roy, Dr Amanda Sampson, Emma Miller, Sarah Wood, Victoria Crane, Claire Birrell.

Research Subcommittee

The L4Life Research Subcommittee oversees the research conducted, and publications submitted, by L4Life , ensuring the continuation of positive and high quality contribution to evidence based clinical supports for neurodiverse children.

It's responsibilities include:

  • overseeing, and ensuring the relevance of, research projects undertaken by L4Life staff
  • providing advice, review and insight with respect to clinical publications, submissions or presentations and conference materials prepared or delivered by L4Life staff;
  • keeping up to date calls for submissions for Government led inquiries, royal commissions or industry investigations relating to Autism, other topics and research relevant to the services and programs L4Life provides or the regulatory environment in which L4Life operates;
  • keeping up to date with relevant industry expectations with respect to ethics approval and processes for undertaking formal research;
  • supporting appropriate submissions for funding or grants to enable research to be conducted.

Members: Dr Amanda Sampson (Chair), Pam Roy, Emma Miller, Sarah Wood, Victoria Crane, Hannah Yates.

Research Projects

We want to provide the best quality services possible and our research processes are integral to making that happen.

Early Intervention

Our early research culminated in the publication of an article titled ‘Outcomes following a community-based early intensive behaviour intervention program for children with Autism in Australia’.  (Published in the Australian Journal of Psychology.)

The study shows how children progressed through their ABA programs and demonstrates the effectiveness of our Full-Service Model. 

We continue to collate the outcome data for our early intervention clients so that it may be used for future studies. But in the meantime this data helps to inform the best practice subcommittee on areas such as intensity of intervention and age to commence early intervention.   

School Aged Children with Autism

As our services have grown to include school aged clients we have also expanded our formal research projects.

Our research in this area includes:
  • 2020 submission to the senate select committee on autism.
  • Between 2021- 2027 formal evaluation of our Inclusion Works program is also being conducted.

Our inductive approach means the research and evaluation never stops and it is always evolving. 

We want to provide the best quality services possible and our research processes are integral to making that happen.

Learning For Life Autism Centre

Inclusion Works Research Program

Our Inclusion Works Research Project is now in its third and final year of the three-year data collection phase. Clinical staff attend participating schools once per week to work with teachers across the school to train, review and implement effective inclusive education strategies to students with additional support needs.

The program will be run in three new schools in 2024.  We will continue to collect data from the 6 participating schools up to three years after each 12 month program has been delivered.

It is always exciting to start running the Inclusion Works program in a new school and the support provided tends to be viewed as a welcome addition by the staff. As the year progresses, we observe the staff develop an awareness of the benefits of the strategies they are taught to use and an understanding on when to use such strategies. This knowledge sets them up to not only know how to implement the strategies but also to know when to implement the strategies. By the end of the program the goal is to move from school staff being led by the L4Life Consultants to them using the L4Life Consultants as sounding boards to individualise strategies to each classroom and different students. The ultimate goal is to build the skills of the school staff to continue to design and implement the appropriate strategies for their school context long after the Inclusion Works program concludes.  

The data from this evaluation goes on to inform our private Inclusion Works program, on offer to all schools within the Greater Melbourne area.  

Chinese parent experiences of early supports for their autistic children in Australia.

A study, undertaken in collaboration with Autism Partnership, La Trobe University (Head Researcher: Dr. Jodie Smith), Learning For Life Autism Centre, Positive Partnerships and a Chinese advisory group including Chinese parents of autistic children will have implications in the provision and presentation of information surrounding early intervention to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) families.

The study gained first-hand experiences of the diagnosis and early intervention process in Australia of migrant Chinese parents of autistic children and found that these parents faced unique challenges and barriers in navigating and accessing autism and funding services as a result of language and cultural differences. Despite the challenges presented, parents still managed to find effective support for themselves and their children: utilising informal networks; educating themselves in Early Intervention; and finding an experienced and key person in the disability sector, which made for a more positive experience.

"A study such as this goes beyond the evaluation of specific programs and helps us understand how we should present information about, and foster access to, our programs to those communities who need it.” says CEO, Pam Roy.

Read more about the research project here.

Sharing our Research

Presenting at Conferences

L4Life Clinical Consultant, Claire Birrell presented at the AABA Conference in July 2023. "Streamlining data collection and management to maximise client progress" reported on the knowledge and experience gained through the process of developing the L4life data app in conjunction with Salesforce.

Attending Conferences

L4Life delegates at the AABA conference in July 2023, where Clinical Consultant, Claire Birrell presented on  "Streamlining data collection and management to maximise client progress."