Developmental Psychiatry Research

The Developmental Psychiatry Research group is focused on furthering the understanding of children with developmental disability and mental health problems, and enhancing children's resilience to developing psychopathology in later life.

Current research studies include:

  • Emotion-Based Social Skills Training (EBSST) in schools for children with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome
  • Stepping Stones Triple P Project: reducing challenging behaviours and improving parental mental health
  • Training and Curriculum Project: evaluating training to clinicians in mental health in intellectual disability
  • Effectiveness of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the treatment of children with Autism
  • Loneliness, friendships and depression in high functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome
  • Modified EBSST for children with moderate and severe intellectual disability

The research team

> Associate Professor David Dossetor, Head of Developmental Psychiatry

David is a child psychiatrist who co-leads the Developmental Psychiatry group and a sponsor of the Centre for EBSST. He has a special interest in intellectual disability and autism. Please visit David's University of Sydney profile page for more information.

> Dr Michelle Wong, EBSST Program Leader, Developmental Pyschiatry, email:

Michelle is a Clinical Psychologist and Research Fellow with a strong interest in autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability. She developed the Emotion Based Social Skills Training (EBSST), a developmental framework for understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder, and is the founder of the Centre for EBSST (CEBSST).

> Other Research Team Members:

  • Dr Sandra Heriot, Clinical Psychologist
  • Sandy Vickerstaff, Psychologist
  • Dr Victoria Grahame, Clinical Psychologist
  • Belinda Ratcliffe, Psychologist
  • Louisa Carroll, Clinical Psychologist
  • Lisa Brice, Clinical Psychologist
  • Dr Phil Ray, Clinical Psychologist

Key publications

Ratcliffe B, Wong M, Dossetor D, Hayes S (2015) The association between social skills and mental health in school-aged children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, with and without Intellectual Disability. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 1-10

Ratcliffe B, Wong M, Dossetor D, Hayes S (2014) Teaching social-emotional skills to school-aged children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A treatment versus control trial in 41 mainstream schools. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 8(12): 1722-1733

Ratcliffe B, Wong M, Dossetor D & Hayes S (2013) Emotion-based social skills training in schools for children with Autism and mild Intellectual Disability. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities: 10(2): 165

Ratcliffe B, in Dossetor D, White D & Ratcliffe B (2011). Developing emotion-based social skills in children with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability. Mental health of children and adolescents with intellectual disability: a framework for professional practice.

Wong MG, Heriot SA (2008) Parents of children with cystic fibrosis: How they hope, cope and despair. Child: Care, Health and Development 34(3): 344-354

Vickerstaff S, Heriot S, Wong MG, Lopes A, Dossetor D (2007) Intellectual ability, self-perceived social competence and depressive symptomatology in children with high-functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 37(9): 1647-1664

Wong MG, Heriot SA (2007) Vicarious futurity in autism and childhood dementia. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 37(10): 1833-1841