Pathways in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Canadian Lens (Webinar Series: 1 of 3)

Last modified by Logan Green on 2021/06/03 02:12

In this first webinar of a series of three, we describe the origins of the Pathways in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) project. The study grew from a series of community consultations that brought stakeholders together to identify research priorities. Our original research question, based on the result of this process was: what individual, family, and community factors foster best outcomes for children with ASD?

In Phase 1 of the Pathways in ASD study we enrolled 421 families in 5 provinces shortly after their children were diagnosed with ASD between the ages of 2 and 5 years. We then followed children’s trajectories of development until after they entered school, along with capturing families’ experiences. Phase 2 funding allowed us to follow children until age 11, and to examine how they fared in school through both parents’ and teachers’ perspectives. We are nearing the end of Phase 3, in which our focus has been the developmental health of youth with ASD as they and their families navigate the adolescent years.

We will describe how our developmental approach helps us to understand more about the natural history of ASD, for example, findings related to the growth of children’s abilities and how they are related to changes in autism symptoms.

Lessons learned include finding that (1) age at diagnosis of ASD varies widely between provinces, even among those diagnosed as preschoolers; (2) individual children with ASD follow different patterns of change over time, and (3) children’s challenging behaviour is not the main source of parents’ distress. We saw a lot of variation in the degree of change that children showed. Moreover, children’s adaptive abilities and ASD symptoms do not necessarily change in tandem, challenging the simplistic notion of “high versus low functioning” in ASD. Parent-focussed interventions may be very important for some families.

Following this webinar, participants will be able to:
● Describe the rationale for the Pathways in ASD study
● Understand the approach the study team took in studying change in children with ASD
● Appreciate variation in the early presentation of ASD
● Understand how a developmental approach contributes to our knowledge of how children’s behaviour and parents’ coping changes over childhood for families of autistic children


View the information and register for part 2 & 3 of this webinar series -- coming up on June 2nd and June 9th at 11am Eastern!

  • Dr. Peter Szatmari is the Chief of the Mental Health Collaborative at the Hospital for Sick Children, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the University of Toronto. He is interested in the ways in which ASD children grow and develop and how we can maximize their potential with collaborative interventions.
  • Dr. Isabel Smith is a Professor and Joan & Jack Craig Chair in Autism Research in the Department of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University. As a Clinical-Developmental Psychologist, she is interested in early identification, early development, and the evolving presentation of ASD. Another major interest is in developing and evaluating interventions to improve quality of life for children and youth with ASD and their families.
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Created by Logan Green on 2021/05/06 21:54