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Drs Ru Ying Cai and Chris Edward receive Autism CRC Achievement in Autism Research Award

7 December 2023

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We are incredibly proud of our colleagues and outstanding Postdoctoral Researchers, Drs Ru Ying Cai and Chris Edwards who received this year’s Autism CRC Achievement in Autism Research Award (Translation of Autism Research) for the project, “Improving the mental health of autistic adults through the cultivation of self-compassion.”

The announcement was made at the Australasian Society for Autism Research (ASfAR) Conference which is underway in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The award recognises several years of pioneering work by Ru which began with a scoping study that found Autistic adults experience lower levels of self-compassion than non-Autistic adults. Seeing an opportunity to make a real-world difference, Ru and Chris developed the Aspect Self-compassion Program for Autistic Adults (ASPAA) to help Autistic people improve their self-compassion, emotion regulation and mental health. Results from a pilot study of 39 Autistic adults showed ASPAA improved the overall self-compassion of participants.

Dr Chris Edwards and Dr Ru Ying Cai (ARCAP) with Cheryl Mangan (Autism CRC)
Dr Chris Edwards and Dr Ru Ying Cai (ARCAP) receiving the award from Cheryl Mangan (left), Research Translation Manager at Autism CRC

Following the successful pilot study, ASPAA was launched in August 2023. Since then, more than 520 people have registered to use the program. A clinician version of ASPAA has also been developed for therapists and mental health workers to support Autistic clients on their self-compassion journey.

Congratulations Ru and Chris on leading this comprehensive body of work that is proving to make a real-world impact in bettering the lives of Autistic adults.

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