Diagnosing Autism and ADHD: The MAGNET Project

The process of diagnosing autism and ADHD can be long, very long and very stressful for families.

Sarah caught up with Dr Beth Johnson from Monash University to ask her about The MAGNET Project.

Dr Beth Johnson is a postdoctoral researcher, leading an ambitious research program to transform how we understand and diagnose autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD.

Autism, which affects around 100,000 children in Australia, significantly impacts a child's ability to play, communicate and relate to their peers. Critically, most kids with ASD have movement problems which hampers their ability to draw, write and dance. We know that early intervention is key to helping kids on the autism spectrum, yet families wait in limbo for 3 years on average to receive a diagnosis for their child. This is too long.

Dr Johnson is leading the Monash Autism/ADHD Genetics and Neurodevelopment (MAGNET) project – which combines cutting edge family genetic analysis techniques with comprehensive neurocognitive profiling – which will help to transform how autism is diagnosed and treated.

This exciting project is studying 1000 families - mother, father, child and siblings – from across Melbourne and Victoria to look at how risk genes and behaviours are passed from parents to children, and how autism overlaps with other disorders, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

This research program gives real hope to families that we will reduce time to diagnosis and improve diagnostic accuracy. It is also hoped that it will change the current trial-and-error approach to treatment, and develop novel and predictable treatment outcomes for children on the autism spectrum who need it.

The project has currently hit 10% of their participant target. If you would like to find out more, visit: https://www.facebook.com/magnetproject/