Category Archives: Autism Videos at ACT

Autism Prevalence among Youth in Canada – A report of the 2018 National ASD Surveillance System

from ACT’s 14th Annual Focus on Research

Filmed April 6th, 2018

Presented by Professor Anthony Bailey, Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, UBC

In this video, Professor Bailey, Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at UBC, provides an insightful overview of the epidemiology of ASD in Canada. After discussing the methodology used to develop the National ASD Surveillance System report, Dr. Bailey presents a summary of the findings and compares Canada’s rate of ASD among children and youth, to the situation internationally.

The Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Surveillance System (NASS) is a federally funded initiative to estimate and monitor the number of individuals with ASD. The initial phase of the program estimates this number among children and youth. The findings of the 2015 NASS report focuses on those aged 5–17 years, from six provinces and one territory: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, British Columbia and the Yukon.

Part 1: Background information on ASD Surveillance

Part 2: ASD Among Children and Youth in Canada 2018 – a Report of the National ASD Surveillance System

Click image to view the NASS report

Summary of findings

  • Among children and youth 5–17 years old across seven provinces and territory, the combined prevalence of ASD for the year 2015 is 1 in 66 (15.2 per 1,000).
  • Males were diagnosed with ASD four times more frequently than females. NASS found that 1 in 42 males (23.9 per 1,000) and 1 in 165 females (6.0 per 1,000) aged 5–17 years old were diagnosed with ASD.
  • Retrospective data from 2003–2015 from Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec showed that, among 5–14 year olds, ASD prevalence has increased from 6.0 per 1,000 to 19.6 per 1,000 in Newfoundland and Labrador; from 5.0 per 1,000 to 17.7 per 1,000 in Prince Edward Island; and, from 3.5 per 1,000 to 15.7 per 1,000 in Quebec.
  • In comparison to the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network from the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which looks only at 8 year olds, NASS’ prevalence was 1 in 63 (8 year olds) in the year 2015 versus the ADDM Network’s prevalence of 1 in 68 in the year 2012.

Part 3: Question & Answer Period


Building a System of Culturally Sensitive Family Centred Positive Behavior Support

from ACT’s 12th Annual Focus on Research

Filmed April 15th, 2016

As professionals working in culturally diverse communities in Metro Vancouver, it is important to consider how we can best deliver culturally-sensitive services to the many families for whom English is not their first language. In an effort to address the need for culturally responsive services, a group of Metro Vancouver professionals have created a workgroup within the International Dissemination committee of the Association for Positive Behavior Support. Over the past year, the group has been working to develop a series of parent training workshops. The goal is to improve the quality of lives for families and their children by empowering families to use PBS strategies in their daily lives in ways that are effective as well as meaningful and acceptable culturally.  This presentation will describe a summary of the workgroup’s progress to date and next steps.

Parbs Bains, M.Ed., BCBAphoto - Parbs Bains

Parbs Bains has 14 years of experience supporting the needs of children with autism and other developmental disabilities in the public school system and in private practice. Parbs is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and holds a Master of Education in Special Education from the University of British Columbia.

Noreen Dunn, M.Ed., BCBA
photo - Noreen Dunn

Noreen Dunn has been supporting children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental in home, school, and community settings for the past 11 years. Noreen is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and holds a Master of Education in Special Education from the University of British Columbia.


Part 1: The Need for Multi-Lingual & Culturally Responsive Service Providers

Part 2: Common Barriers for Culturally Diverse Families

Part 3: Culturally Sensitive Considerations and Supports

ACT Resources

Reference: Chen, D., Downing, J. E., & Peckham-Hardin, K. D. (2002). Positive behavior support with families of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds: Considerations for culturally responsive practices. In J. M. Lucyshyn, G. Dunlap, & R. W. Albin (Eds.), Families positive behavior support: Addressing problem behavior in family context (pp. 131- 151). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes. Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. W., Karazsia

Part 4: Positive Behavioural Support Workgroup

Part 5: Pilot Workshop Plan & Outline

Part 6: Workshop Structure: Mindfulness-Based PBS & Behaviour Skills Training

Reference: Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. W., Karazsia, B. T., Myers, R. E., Lathan, L. L., & Singh, J. (2014). Mindfulness-Based Positive Behavior Support (MBPBS) for Mothers of Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Effects on Adolescents’ Behavior and Parental Stress. Mindfulness, 5, 646-657.

Family Quality of Life and ASD Funding in BC: Opportunities for Culturally Responsive Research

from ACT’s 12th Annual Focus on Research

Filmed April 15th, 2016


Drs. Iarocci and Gardiner present findings from a mixed-methods study with caregivers of individuals with ASD in British Columbia.  Participants reported on their satisfaction with available funds and resources.  This research revealed important insights into the strengths and challenges associated with the BC funding model, as perceived by service users.  The conclusions are, however, limited by the lack of diversity represented within the sample.  It is critical that methods of engaging families who live outside of major centres, and who represent diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds are developed.  Such approaches acknowledge the rich diversity represented within the province, and ensure that evidence-based recommendations have value for all families of children with ASD.  The video concludes with a discussion on the implications for provincial policy and practice, and present strategies for including under-served families in research.

Download copy of slides

Presenter Bios

Grace Iarocci, PhD, R.Psych Grace_picture

Grace Iarocci, PhD., R. Psych. is a Professor of Psychology at Simon Fraser University, and Director of the Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab.  She is a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Scholar, and an Autism Research Training Program mentor.



Emily Gardiner, PhD, BCCH

Emily Gardiner, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow with the Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia.  She is conducting her current research out of the Child and Family Research Institute within The M.I.N.D. Research Theme.


Part 1: Introduction and Literature Review

Part 2: ASD and Service Delivery

Part 3: Survey and Interview Results

Part 4: Research Discussion and Policy Implications

Part 5: Study Limitations and Hard-to-Reach Populations


Bilingualism and Language Development in Children with Autism

from ACT’s 12th Annual Focus on Research

Filmed April 16th, 2016


Many bilingual families are told by professionals to speak only one language (in Canada, either English or French) to their child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  The rationale for this recommendation is that the linguistic input to which these children are exposed should be as simplistic as possible in order to facilitate language learning, given the social-communicative challenges inherent in ASD. Until recently, few studies had compared language development in monolingual vs. bilingual children with ASD to determine if exposure to more than one language is, in fact, problematic. This presentation will summarize the research in this area, much of which was conducted in Canada, with recommendations for bilingual parents and for professionals who support them.

Presenter: Pat Mirenda, PhD, BCBA

Pat 2015Pat Mirenda is a Professor and Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaboration in Autism at the University of British Columbia. She has published numerous research articles and presents frequently at international and national conferences. Her research examines the developmental trajectories of children with autism and their families.



Download the supplementary handout for this video series

Part 1: Introduction and Parents’ Experiences

Part 2: Review of the Research on ASD and Bilingualism

Part 3: School-Age Children and Language

Part 4: Q&A

Parent Support for Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Communities – a Global Perspective

from ACT’s 12th Annual Focus on Research

Filmed April 15th, 2016


The empowerment of caregivers is increasingly recognized as a critical component of intervention for children with autism. The World Health Organization recommends parent skills training (PST) for management of developmental disorders. However, to date, no such programs have been widely available, especially for use in low-resource communities. Our team is currently undertaking a local adaptation and evaluation of this new evidence-based, affordable, PST program that can be delivered by non-specialist providers in a wide range of community settings. We also interlink our local evaluation with field trials in low- and middle-income countries, in support of global research in intervention design and delivery.

Presented by: Mayada Elsabbagh, PhD, McGill University

MayadaElsabbagh-2016Mayada Elsabbagh, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at McGill University. Her research focuses on understanding the root causes of autism and tracing its developmental pathways. The approach integrates innovative research with the mission of accelerating translation of scientific discoveries into community impact. Mayada’s recent contributions include the identification of very early brain function markers for autism prior to the onset of behavioral symptoms. She also supported the successful launch of collaborative research and translational networks, aimed at accelerating the pace of discovery in early autism. She has contributed to mapping knowledge translation priorities in under-resourced communities. In 2010, she was awarded the Neville Butler Memorial Prize, in recognition of the public value and social relevance of her research. In 2013, she was the recipient of the British Psychological Society Neil O’Conner Prize, awarded for her work in early autism biomarkers.

Link to online presentation file

Part 1: Introduction: A Global Vision for Autism

Part 2: Spectrum of Care and Genetic Diversity

Part 3: Hot Topic: Building ‘Glocal’ Capacity

Part 4: Family Navigator Pilot

Part 5: Hot Topic: Good Outcomes

Part 6: Q&A