Westmead Feelings Program awarded for contribution to Autism community

The Westmead Feelings Program team: Dr Belinda Ratcliffe, Anita Gardner, Dr Michelle Wong and Associate Professor David Dossetor

The Westmead Feelings Program, a pair of research-driven intervention programs for school-age children with autism, has won the Advancement Award in the Autism Spectrum Australia’s (Aspect) 2019 Recognition Awards.

Based at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, the program is delivered in-person by psychologists, teachers and health professionals in schools and clinical settings who are trained to be facilitators either face to face or online.

The training program is co-led by Dr Belinda Ratcliffe, from Western Sydney University’s School of Social Sciences and Psychology and Translational Health Research Institute, who developed one of the 15-month programs on emotion-based skills for children with Autism and mild intellectual disability.

“The Westmead Feelings Program is a true collaboration between researchers, facilitators, teachers and parents. The program provides training for health professionals who in turn empower parents and teachers to grow the emotional skills of children with autism,” said Dr Ratcliffe.

“It’s imperative that we give parents and teachers the tools to be able to help children on the spectrum successfully interact with the people around them, including their peers.”

Westmead Feelings Program 1: Emotion-Based Learning for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mild Intellectual Disability is the first evidence-based intervention for children on the spectrum with cognitive impairment, while Westmead Feelings Program 2 is for children on the spectrum without cognitive impairment.

Dr Michelle Wong, Westmead Feelings Program Project Manager and researcher at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, and Associate Professor David Dossetor, Sydney Children's Hospital Network Director for Mental Health, Westmead Feelings Program Project Sponsor and researcher at the Children's Hospital at Westmead, have also made an integral contribution to the success of the program established in 2004.

The team accepted the Advancement Award at a special awards night on 4 April. The Autism Spectrum Australia’s (Aspect) Recognition Awards, now in their 13th year, celebrate extraordinary people in the autism community.


5 April 2019

Ali Sardyga, Media Officer