Autism Research at Cambridge
'Mind-reading: a guide to the emotions'
People with autism frequently have difficulty recognising emotions in others, makes social interaction extremely challenging. Thanks to the generous support of Dame Stephanie Shirley through the Shirley Foundation, the Cambridge Autism Research Centre (ARC) has developed an interactive DVD called Mind-Reading: The Interactive Guide to Emotions.
Dame Stephanie Shirley has transformed philanthropic funding of autism research in the UK, first through the Shirley Foundation and, more recently, by creating the UK chapter of 'Autism Speaks', a US-based charity whose mission is to identify the causes of autism and to evaluate promising treatments. …Dame Shirley remains unwavering in her commitment to fund both basic and applied research, of the kind she has supported in Cambridge. Her vision benefits autism research in Cambridge and beyond, both nationally and internationally.
Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre, School of Clinical Medicine
Designed for children from four years old through to adulthood, the DVD features actors showing 412 distinct emotions, and engages its young users - as well as family members, carers and teachers - through a rich and imaginative range of activities, information and games. Its use has already proved extremely beneficial to people with autism spectrum conditions, improving their social skills through developing their ability to recognise emotions.
Dame Shirley's gift also made possible a major study of autism spectrum conditions in primary school children in Cambridgeshire. Research showed that about 1% of children in Cambridgeshire primary schools have either classic autism or Asperger's Syndrome. The study also enabled the development of a questionnaire called the Childhood Autism Spectrum Test (CAST), to help parents or teachers to determine whether a child needs help (available at www.autismresearchcentre.com). A further component of the gift provided a PhD studentship for research into the differences in brain structure and function in adults with autism, compared to those without the condition.
Find out more about Dame Shirley, and the personal experiences and deeply-held values that inform her philanthropy.
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