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Garner, Andrea Dr

Honorary Research Fellow

  • Leader of Teaching and Learning - Alesco Illawarra 2019 -

Overview


Andrea Garner, PhD is a practitioner and researcher specializing in the education of people on the autism spectrum and disadvantaged youth. Andrea completed her PhD thesis on the impact of entertainment media representations of autism on the attitudes and knowledge held by pre-service teachers. She currently works directly with children, their families, and with teachers developing programs and strategies to improve long-term outcomes for young people. Andrea is currently conducting research in the assessment and delivery of social skills programs, the development of self-determination; autism friendly communities, and the effectiveness of online information sharing.

Top Publications


    Year Title
    2016 Discourses of autism on film: an analysis of memorable images that create definition
    2015 Authentic representations or stereotyped ‘outliers’: using the CARS2 to assess film portrayals of Autism Spectrum Disorders
    Published in   International Journal of Culture and Mental Health

Research Overview


  • Andrea's current research areas are in creating enabling environments, Autism Friendly Communities; self-determination and disadvantaged youth; and developing foundation literacy skills in adolescents.

Selected Publications


  • Journal Article

    Year Title
    2022

    Published In
    Disability and Society
    2020

    Published In
    International Journal of Disability, Development and Education
    2020

    Published In
    Design for Health
    2019

    Published In
    Progress in Community Health Partnerships
    2019

    Published In
    Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action
    2015

    Published In
    International Journal of Culture and Mental Health
  • Chapter

    Year Title
    2016

    Published In
    The Palgrave Handbook of Adult Mental Health: Discourse and Conversation Studies
    Publisher
    United Kingdom

Impact Story


  • This project aims to make Corrimal Australia’s first autism friendly community. Autism is a life-long condition that impacts a person’s social, communication and sensory abilities. It should be noted that autism is a condition that not only significantly affects the individual, but also their immediate and extended families.<br /><br />Initially, an extensive review of the literature was undertaken to identify environmental factors that may need to be modified for somebody living on the spectrum. Secondly, people living on the spectrum visited local businesses and observations of their thoughts and responses to the environment were recorded. The advice and opinions of a Community Steering Committee, established to oversee this project, were also sought. The Community Steering Committee was comprised primarily of people on the spectrum, their family friends and carers, local business owners and educators. The findings from these three channels were synthesised to develop the SERVICE principles  <a href="https://www.autismfriendlycommunities.com/principles.html" title="SERVICE principles" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://www.autismfriendlycommunities.com/principles.html</a>.<br /><br />Local businesses that have actively made changes to their environments, based on the SERVICE principles,  are able to apply for a badge to acknowledge their commitment to creating an autism friendly environment.<br /><br />The project has had immediate local significance, by promoting principles that support all members of the community to access shops, health care and other essential services in the local area. This will help decrease isolation of families of people on the autism spectrum by providing local spaces that are accessible, enabling connection with people through inclusive environments.<br /><br />This project also has the potential to have significant impact at state, national and international level since the materials developed enable business owners to make no-cost or low-cost adjustments to their environments irrespective of their location. While friendly communities have been created for other conditions, such as dementia, at the time of this project’s initiation we were unaware of this ever having been done for autism.
  • <p>Drawing on international research this project has designed and developed a community-based multi-sensory environment (MSE) at the Horsley Community Centre in the Illawarra. An MSE provides a safe, non-threatening environment for children and adults with cognitive, behavioural and physical impairments to engage in a range of sensory experiences. The experiences provided by an MSE can either calm or stimulate the primary senses using sensory-based materials such as fibre optics sprays, bubble tubes, music, colour, lighting and aroma. We know that multisensory environments provide the ability to control sensory experiences and stimulation of the primary senses to encourage relaxation and enjoyment which can be helpful for multiple groups such as senior citizens/aged care, people with physical disabilities and those with conditions such as dementia, autism spectrum disorders and also people with anxiety and challenging behaviours.<br /><br />The project forged a unique partnership between CareWays Illawarra and the University of Wollongong (UOW). Methodologically, this project used participatory action research to foster the involvement of people with disabilities, their carers, families and disability services to assist in the design and development of the space to best meet the needs of the whole community. <br /><br />Initially known as the SMILE team, the project is now called Sense (Sensory Environments for Supporting Experiences) Spaces. It has expanded to explore the impact of MSEs for cross-sector user groups.  The project has grown from establishing an MSE to examining the immediate and lasting impact of using an MSE, and whether personalisation of the MSE can increase use or provide a more meaningful experience. Utilising different design-thinking approaches with coordinated communication plans will be significant as we engage, define, ideate, prototype and test across sectors to provide effective ways of delivering MSEs.  </p>

Keywords


  • Enabling environments
    Autism Spectrum

Full Name


  • Andrea Garner, PhD

Mailing Address


  • School of Education

    University of Wollongong

    Wollongong

    NSW

    2522

    Australia

Top Publications


    Year Title
    2016 Discourses of autism on film: an analysis of memorable images that create definition
    2015 Authentic representations or stereotyped ‘outliers’: using the CARS2 to assess film portrayals of Autism Spectrum Disorders
    Published in   International Journal of Culture and Mental Health

Research Overview


  • Andrea's current research areas are in creating enabling environments, Autism Friendly Communities; self-determination and disadvantaged youth; and developing foundation literacy skills in adolescents.

Selected Publications


  • Journal Article

    Year Title
    2022

    Published In
    Disability and Society
    2020

    Published In
    International Journal of Disability, Development and Education
    2020

    Published In
    Design for Health
    2019

    Published In
    Progress in Community Health Partnerships
    2019

    Published In
    Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action
    2015

    Published In
    International Journal of Culture and Mental Health
  • Chapter

    Year Title
    2016

    Published In
    The Palgrave Handbook of Adult Mental Health: Discourse and Conversation Studies
    Publisher
    United Kingdom

Impact Story


  • This project aims to make Corrimal Australia’s first autism friendly community. Autism is a life-long condition that impacts a person’s social, communication and sensory abilities. It should be noted that autism is a condition that not only significantly affects the individual, but also their immediate and extended families.<br /><br />Initially, an extensive review of the literature was undertaken to identify environmental factors that may need to be modified for somebody living on the spectrum. Secondly, people living on the spectrum visited local businesses and observations of their thoughts and responses to the environment were recorded. The advice and opinions of a Community Steering Committee, established to oversee this project, were also sought. The Community Steering Committee was comprised primarily of people on the spectrum, their family friends and carers, local business owners and educators. The findings from these three channels were synthesised to develop the SERVICE principles  <a href="https://www.autismfriendlycommunities.com/principles.html" title="SERVICE principles" target="_blank" rel="noopener">https://www.autismfriendlycommunities.com/principles.html</a>.<br /><br />Local businesses that have actively made changes to their environments, based on the SERVICE principles,  are able to apply for a badge to acknowledge their commitment to creating an autism friendly environment.<br /><br />The project has had immediate local significance, by promoting principles that support all members of the community to access shops, health care and other essential services in the local area. This will help decrease isolation of families of people on the autism spectrum by providing local spaces that are accessible, enabling connection with people through inclusive environments.<br /><br />This project also has the potential to have significant impact at state, national and international level since the materials developed enable business owners to make no-cost or low-cost adjustments to their environments irrespective of their location. While friendly communities have been created for other conditions, such as dementia, at the time of this project’s initiation we were unaware of this ever having been done for autism.
  • <p>Drawing on international research this project has designed and developed a community-based multi-sensory environment (MSE) at the Horsley Community Centre in the Illawarra. An MSE provides a safe, non-threatening environment for children and adults with cognitive, behavioural and physical impairments to engage in a range of sensory experiences. The experiences provided by an MSE can either calm or stimulate the primary senses using sensory-based materials such as fibre optics sprays, bubble tubes, music, colour, lighting and aroma. We know that multisensory environments provide the ability to control sensory experiences and stimulation of the primary senses to encourage relaxation and enjoyment which can be helpful for multiple groups such as senior citizens/aged care, people with physical disabilities and those with conditions such as dementia, autism spectrum disorders and also people with anxiety and challenging behaviours.<br /><br />The project forged a unique partnership between CareWays Illawarra and the University of Wollongong (UOW). Methodologically, this project used participatory action research to foster the involvement of people with disabilities, their carers, families and disability services to assist in the design and development of the space to best meet the needs of the whole community. <br /><br />Initially known as the SMILE team, the project is now called Sense (Sensory Environments for Supporting Experiences) Spaces. It has expanded to explore the impact of MSEs for cross-sector user groups.  The project has grown from establishing an MSE to examining the immediate and lasting impact of using an MSE, and whether personalisation of the MSE can increase use or provide a more meaningful experience. Utilising different design-thinking approaches with coordinated communication plans will be significant as we engage, define, ideate, prototype and test across sectors to provide effective ways of delivering MSEs.  </p>

Keywords


  • Enabling environments
    Autism Spectrum

Full Name


  • Andrea Garner, PhD

Mailing Address


  • School of Education

    University of Wollongong

    Wollongong

    NSW

    2522

    Australia

Geographic Focus