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

Westmead Feelings Program wins award

ACER news 2 minute read

A program designed to help children with autism express and manage their emotions has been honoured by Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect).

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) congratulates the team behind the Westmead Feelings Program on its win at the Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) 2019 Recognition Awards on 4 April.

The program received the prestigious Advancement Award for projects that ‘demonstrate leading practice elements, successes and positive outcomes for the autism community’ and seek to ‘shift current practice paradigms’. The awards celebrate extraordinary people in the autism community and Westmead Feelings Program was nominated by a special education teacher using it in her classroom.

Program co-author and trainer, Dr Belinda Ratcliffe of Western Sydney University, said it represents more than a decade of research and development and called it ‘a gamechanger’.

‘More than 70 per cent of the one in 59 Australian children with autism also experience mental ill health, like anxiety and depression,’ Dr Ratcliffe said. ‘We are teaching school children with autism to talk about and manage their feelings – crucial emotional literacy skills that underpin good mental health.

‘Being nominated for the award by a special education teacher because of the difference the program has made to her students with autism is such a privilege.’

The program – a pair of face-to-face interventions delivered by psychologists, teachers and health professionals in clinical or school settings – was developed by the team at Westmead Children’s Hospital and is published by ACER. Find out more about Westmead Feelings Program or read more about the award win on the Western Sydney University news centre.

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