2013 Focus on Research – Building Community Capacity Across the Rockies

These videos were originally part of the extremely successful 9th Annual Focus on Research event in April 2013. They are available free of charge, at the ACT Online Learning Community, thanks to funding from Kids Brain Health (formerly Neurodevnet) and Autism Speaks Canada. Kids Brain Health (formerly Neurodevnet)Autism Speaks Canada

Understanding the Decision-Making Process of Parents Who Choose Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Their Children with ASD

Presented by: Tara Hodgson, RN, MSN, B.C. Institute of Technology
This presentation summarizes the results of a study that explored the decision-making processes of 15 families who decided to use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies with their children with ASD. Parents’ decisions were influenced by numerous factors, including their beliefs about the cause of autism, anecdotal reports from other parents, guilt, the cost of treatments, fit for each family, and parental intuition. The results of this study have implications regarding the types of information and decision-making supports required by families of children with ASD for the promotion of family-centred care and a shared decision-making approach to treatment selection.

Emergency Services, Hospitalizations and Mental Health Care for Adolescents and Adults with ASD

Presented by: Jonathan Weiss, Ph.D., C. Psych., Chair in ASD Treatment and Care Research, York University
Individuals with ASD often have challenges in accessing appropriate healthcare, with many caregivers citing challenges in navigating between sectors (health and social services), transitioning across age groups, and finding specialized expertise.  These challenges can be confusing and stressful for individuals with ASD and their caregivers. As a result, emergency services can end up being one pathway to mental health care. The current study examines emergency service and psychiatric hospitalization in a large sample of adolescents and adults with ASD in Ontario, as part of an ongoing longitudinal study of health care service use in this population.  A number of individual, family, and service characteristics are implicated as correlates of service use, and have important implications for supporting health care interventions.

Quality of Life Among Families Living with ASD

Presented by: Grace Iarocci, Ph.D., R.Psych & Emily Gardiner, M.A., Simon Fraser University
Family quality of life (FQOL) assessments can provide a vehicle for productive family-professional conversations that serve as a starting place from which areas of both need and strength can be identified. This presentation introduces the core concepts and research findings related to FQOL, with particular attention to families of children with ASD. The information will be relevant to families, professionals, and policy makers who must decide how to best distribute limited resources to families.

Blueprint for University Transition Year Programs for Persons with Autism

Presented by: Joseph Z. Shepperd, B.A., Co-Director of the Centre for Autism Research, Technology and Education, University of Victoria
The Autism Skyward transition program is scientific research-based and provides stepping-stone intervention modules to assist in six domains:
  • academic program completion,
  • job-skills acquisition,
  • self-actualization,
  • maintenance of health,
  • support services integration, and
  • optimal social participation.
Some of the modules that are already active are Authors with Autism (an on-campus peer-support group for students with autism), Autism’s Own (a peer-review academic journal about autism culture by persons with autism with companion conference), Autism on Campus (an informational workshop for prospective students and their families providing integrated services), and Parental Advocacy Group for Students with Autism (on-campus parent group to advocate and support students with autism). Autism Skyward draws on Joseph Sheppard’s psychological research on best practices that help enable and empower each student’s own self-determination to author her or his own life.

A Review of Emerging Considerations for Vocational Support in ASD: Challenges and Opportunities

Presented by David Nicholas, Ph.D., University of Calgary
This presentation summarizes the results of a systematic review examining the literature on vocational support for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In particular, promising approaches for vocational support are identified, including skills- and strengths-based learning, the use of naturalistic vocational, behavioral, communication, and sensory supports; and environmental modifications in the workplace. The presentation provides evidence-based recommendations for moving forward at individual, family, community, and policy levels.


You can access the videos online, either as a “guest” or by logging in with your ACT Online Account.