Associate Professor Josephine Barbaro is a Principal Research Fellow and Neurodiversity Affirming Psychologist at the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, La Trobe University. She is co-founder of Australia's first 'Early Assessment Clinic' for autism, focusing on children under 3 years old. A/Prof Barbaro's research interests are in the early identification and diagnosis of autism in infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers, family health and well-being following a diagnosis, and Neurodiversity Affirming research and practice.
A/Prof Barbaro pioneered an early detection method for autism known as Social Attention and Communication Surveillance (SACS). The SACS is the most successful tool for the very early detection of autism in the world, identifying Autistic children aged 11 to 30 months with an accuracy of 83%, and identifying 96% of all Autistic children by preschool age. Used amongst healthcare professionals around the world, the SACS program has led to ASDetect – the world’s first, empirically-based, early autism detection mobile application for infants and toddlers, winning Research and Development Project of the Year at both the State and National iAwards (2016), and was one of ten finalists for the 2016 Google Impact Challenge.
A/Prof Barbaro is a Sir Robert Menzies Scholar, past President of the Menzies Foundation Alumni, and Vice President of the Australian Society for Autism Research (ASfAR). She has won numerous awards for her work, including Best Translation of Autism Research by the Autism Cooperative Research Centre (2015 & 2016), the Business Higher Education Round Table Award for Outstanding Collaboration for National Benefit, Public Health (2019), and Autism Spectrum Australia's ARCAP Research to Practice Award (2022).