In the News

Autism Care



“Future research needs to focus not only on the biological markers of autism but also include data about functioning, participation, and environmental barriers and facilitators.”

Dr. Olaf Kraus de Camargo  //  Developmental Pediatrician


MacART is laying the foundation for creating a systematic way of linking scientific research on autism at McMaster University to clinical practice at McMaster Children’s Hospital.

The physical proximity of McMaster Children’s Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences, and McMaster University has a number of characteristics that provides the rare opportunity for collaborative research. Taking advantage of existing university and clinical infrastructure and cross-appointments for clinicians at the university, autism experts from these organizations are coming together to integrate autism research into clinical practice.

The focus of MacART members’ research is in the areas of basic science, clinical practice, clinical research, epidemiology and statistical modelling, knowledge translation and exchange, and social science research. By promoting the collaboration of stakeholders across disciplines, MacART is reducing barriers to implementing research in clinical practice, with the goal of advancing autism care through meaningful research.

Learn more about our research HERE.


MacART members are now supervising more than 50 research trainees at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels, and are engaged in the mentoring of junior and intermediate faculty members.

In the future, we intend to establish research and clinical training programs for students in McMaster’s undergraduate medical, health sciences, and psychology programs, and for residents and fellows in Pediatrics and Psychiatry.

By training and mentoring emerging researchers and practitioners, we will help to solidify their understanding of and commitment to using basic science to inform their clinical practice, and to use their clinical experience to help formulate research questions. It is our belief that involving these learners in MacART educational activities will promote their use of practices that advance autism care through meaningful research.


“Our scientists are working collaboratively with local clinicians to generate the evidence needed to improve autism services. This symposium is a great example of McMaster’s community engagement efforts.”

Dr. Patrick Deane // President & Vice-Chancellor // McMaster University


The community engagement component of MacART strives to work with stakeholders and involve them as partners in every step of the research process.  By doing so, the questions that drive research begin to change. They become more meaningful because they address the real day-to-day challenges faced by children and their families, and the clinicians supporting them.

MacART aims to increase participation and involvement of members of the McMaster and Hamilton communities in the research process. With community members driving the research, new and relevant knowledge can be produced to bridge the research-to-practice gap in autism and advance autism care through meaningful research.


“People whose lives are connected to the challenge of autism can share knowledge – from clinicians to educators to parents – and what an amazing opportunity that is. We have a real opportunity to translate challenges into research, and research into practice that will help families living with autism.”

Rob MacIsaac  //  President & CEO // Hamilton Health Sciences


Policies should be created using the best available evidence that make positive impacts on the lives of Autistic individuals, along with their families.

MacART’s founder, Stelios Georgiades, serves on both federal and provincial advisory committees about autism supports/service funding. Along with the wide-ranging expertise of its many autism experts, MacART is set to act as a highly credible source of evidence-based information to influence and inform public policy about the provision and funding of autism diagnosis, services, and family supports.

MacART will continue to find ways to collaborate with policymakers to both learn more about the policymaking process, and to contribute our expertise and knowledge to inform policymaking, in order to advance autism care through meaningful research.

PARC Speaker Series will Launch with Dr. Elizabeth Kelley's Zoom Talk on Early Interventions for Parents of Autistic Children

The PARC Study co-investigative team is pleased to announce that registrations are open for our first PARC Speaker Series virtual Zoom talk! It will be hosted by Dr. Elizabeth Kelley, a PARC co-investigator working with the Kingston, Ontario site. This talk is free and open to the public, meaning that anyone regardless of whether they are currently enrolled in the PARC Study will be able to attend and participate!

In this presentation, Dr. Kelley will discuss the various types of early intervention programs available and what they will look like for your child and your family. She will also discuss the pros and cons of these programs and some information to keep in mind when deciding what type of intervention you would like for your child.

The event will take place on Tuesday, September 26th, 2023 from 12pm - 1pm EST. Closed captioning will be available, and no sign-in is required.


If you are interested in attending this free, virtual Zoom talk, please register by clicking HERE. Virtual seats are limited, so sign up as soon as you can! 

* Please note that by registering for this Zoom talk, you are not registering to be enrolled into the PARC Study.

Publication Highlight: A Scoping Review of Trajectory Research in Children with an Autism Diagnosis

Autism research has increasingly called researchers to employ longitudinal trajectory methods (i.e., collecting data at three or more timepoints) to understand different developmental pathways of Autistic people across the lifespan. This area of exploration has been a core focus for many among the MacART team.

According to MacART member Dr. Stephen Gentles, trajectory studies involve measuring developmental or health-related outcomes at three or more timepoints, as opposed to measuring them at two or more timepoints like a more typical cohort study does. “More timepoints allows you to characterize the shape, or ‘changes in the rate of change' of something over time. These have been described as 'turning points’ and you can think of it as an elbow in the slope of something that changes over time,” Dr. Gentles says. “From a parent’s perspective this might be noticed as accelerations, plateaus, or slowdowns in a child’s development.”  In his recently-published review, the team focused on trajectory studies of child development, up to age 18.

This review, titled “Trajectory research in children with an autism diagnosis: A scoping review”, was recently published open access (free) in the journal Autism. MacART collaborators on the study included members Dr. Yun-Ju (Claire) Chen, Dr. Eric Duku, and Dr. Stelios Georgiades.

“We chose to do a scoping review because this methodology is best suited to identify and characterize the wide breadth of published research in an area. Scoping reviews are like systematic reviews in that they feature a systematic search and screening process that aims to comprehensively capture all literature on a topic,” explains Dr. Gentles. “But in contrast to classic systematic reviews, where the aim to summarize the findings of research on a more specific research question, scoping reviews are not considered an appropriate method for summarizing findings. Rather scoping reviewers stick to summarizing other characteristics of the research under review like the methods used, populations and outcomes studied.  They can provide useful ‘maps’ to the available research on a broad topic.”

Trajectory studies have been used to study the progression over time of many different outcomes relevant to autistic child development. Among other things, this review provides a resource guide to the studies and age ranges covered for the ten most-studied outcome domains. These outcome domain summaries may be useful to clinicians, policymakers, and others planning care or services who may want a map of trajectory research available across clinically relevant outcome domains.

“This review will also have broad appeal and usefulness not only for scientific audiences, but also for autistic people and parents or caregivers of autistic children who may want to know where to find the research that will give them answers to questions like, ‘What will my child be like as they get older?’” Dr. Gentles adds. “Anyone who wants to know where to find the research that tells us about the shape of developmental pathways of autistic children will find this review a useful resource. This includes trajectory researchers wanting a complete idea of the research on the outcome domain(s) or methods they may be considering. And systematic reviewers who want to know if there’s enough research to do a more focused review on a specific outcome domain.”

Among the conclusions is a recommendation that future research be planned to address the absence of trajectory studies in low- and middle-income countries, and that researchers consider following outcome domains that caregivers and autistic people consider meaningful when planning their next trajectory studies.

Many kudos to Dr. Stephen Gentles and colleagues for this impactful publication that will help inform future directions in developmental trajectory research for Autistic people across the lifespan!

There is also a podcast interview that Dr. Gentles participated in about this topic!

Meet the Recipients of the 2023 MacART Trainee Awards!

At our recent Research Symposium, MacART Founder & Co-Director Dr. Stelios Georgiades announced the seven recipients of the 2023 MacART Trainee Awards.

The MacART Trainee Awards are meant to help trainees working in research in autism and/or other neurodevelopmental conditions, by supporting travel to events that would enhance their research training experience or by providing material supports such as software licenses, journal fees, other supplies, etc.

"The next generation will learn and do better. You may think that you are learning from us, but we are learning from you." - Dr. Stelios Georgiades at the MacART Research Symposium.


This year, our winners are:

Dr. Yun-Ju (Claire) Chen

Dr. Yun-Ju Claire Chen        

Claire will be using her Trainee Award funds toward her 2023 International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) meeting attendance and research presentation.

Claire is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences, under the supervision of Dr. Stelios Georgiades.

“This cross-disciplinary exchange will help broaden my perspectives on autism research, and inspire me to think more creatively about potential research directions.”

Areeba Sharafuddin

Areeba Sharafuddin        

Areeba will be using her Trainee Award funds toward supporting the focus group participants of her project, who will provide her with feedback on the feasibility of the Transitional Autism Communication Tool (TACT), an empirically-derived communication tool.

Areeba is in her second year of her MSc in the Neuroscience graduate program, under the supervision of Dr. Stelios Georgiades.

“The TACT aims to be the first tool to help bridge the communication gap addressed in previous literature amongst caregivers, clinicians, and educators.”

Sureka Selvakumaran

Sureka Selvakumaran        

Sureka will be using her Trainee Award funds toward supports for studies on the Autism Classification System of Functioning: Social Communication (ACSF), including statistical software (STATA/BE) and research participation incentives. She will also use her funds for printing her European Academy of Childhood Disability (EACD) 2023 conference poster.

Sureka is a third-year student in the OT/PhD Dual Degree Program, under the supervision of Dr. Briano Di Rezze.

“This research will expand our understanding of the ACSF as a new tool for the ASD field.”

Shane Cleary

Shane Cleary        

Shane will be using his Trainee Award funds toward travelling to the Canadian Association for Neuroscience Conference to present his work on gastrointestinal symptoms and behaviour phenotypes in neurodevelopmental disorders.

Shane is a PhD candidate in the Neuroscience graduate program (MiNDs), under the supervision of Dr. Jane Foster.

“This travel allowed me to network with other autism researchers, creating opportunities for future collaborations. It helped me disseminate my doctoral research findings to others interested in the immune role in autism.”

Jeffrey Esteves

Jeffrey Esteves        

Jeffrey will be using his Trainee Award funds to attend the Association for Behaviour Analysis International (ABAI) conference. He will present findings from his research on Autistic children’s use of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).

Jeffrey is a PhD candidate in Psychology, entering as an Autism/Child and Youth Mental Health resident under the supervision of Dr. Caroline Roncadin.

“Learning about new developments in the field will allow me to provide the highest level of care for PECS users, and training and support to direct care staff who support these children.”

Stephanie Studer

Stephanie Studer        

Stephanie will be using her Trainee Award funds to attend the Society for Psychological Anthropology (SPA) Biennial Conference.

Stephanie is a 2nd-year PhD candidate in the Anthropology graduate program, under the supervision of Dr. Ellen Badone.

“Ultimately, I hope that my research will help to provide practical and sustainable support for Autistic individuals who have high needs and for their caregivers, helping them to understand the disorder, its etiology, what support methods are available, and which ones are best suited to their circumstances.”

Mona Abdollahi

Mona Abdollahi        

Mona will be using her Trainee Award funds toward travelling to the 16th Canadian Neuroscience Meeting (CAN-ACN 2023) to share her research findings on the underlying molecular mechanisms of autism.

Mona is a PhD candidate in the Medical Sciences PhD program, under the supervision of Dr. Margaret Fahnestock.

“By connecting with experts and sharing knowledge, I believe that I can contribute to the ongoing efforts to better understand the underlying mechanisms of autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions, which can lead to the development of more effective treatments and interventions.”

Learn more about the MacART Trainee Awards HERE.

Call for Applications - Graduate Award for Innovative Projects in Intellectual Disability and/or Autism Research

MacART is pleased to announce that applications are now open for McMaster’s Martha and Vincent Wagar Intellectual Disability and Autism Research Fund award, for innovative projects in the area of intellectual disability and/or autism research.

This annual award competition is designed for candidates who demonstrate excellence in their research and are interested in or are pursuing graduate/post-doctoral work related to autism and/or intellectual disability in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Graduate student and post-doctoral fellow awards will be awarded on the recommendation of a selection committee. Funded through the generosity of the estate of Vincent Wager, a variable number of awards will be available each year at a value of $5,000 for Master’s-level students, $10,000 for PhD-level students, and $20,000 for post-doctoral fellows.

Further information on eligibility and how to apply can be found HERE. The deadline for 2023 is Friday July 28th, 2023.


MacART at the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) Annual Meeting - 2023

The International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) recently gathered in Stockholm, Sweden for the 2023 meeting. From May 3rd – 6th, scientists, researchers, clinicians, policy-makers, and self-advocates came together to share and learn about the latest scientific developments in autism research. This event – which included over 2,100 abstract submissions across 22 topic areas with authors from over 50 countries – exemplifies the international importance of advancement in autism care.

MacART was once again well represented at the 2023 INSAR meeting, giving members an excellent opportunity to share our research findings, exchange ideas and collaborate with other members of the global autism community. This year MacART members contributed to 26 posters, 2 oral presentations, and 2 panel sessions.

The following presentations include those with MacART members as contributors (the abstract book can be found HERE):



  • A Scoping Review of Evidence-Based Supports on College and University Campuses for Autistic Post-Secondary Students - (pg 533)
    • Including B. Di Rezze
  • Evaluation of a Province-Wide ASD Family Service Navigation Program - (pg 1097)
    • Including I. O'Connor, J. E. Tarride, & S. Georgiades
  • Altered Signal Complexity in Children and Adolescents with ASD - (pg 120)
    • Including J. Frei
  • A Preliminary Investigation of E-I Balance As a Potential Marker of Adaptive Functioning in ASD - (pg 150-151)
    • Including J. Frei
  • Investigating Differences in Resting State Functional Connectivity across Sensory Phenotypes in Autism - (pg 152-153)
    • Including S. Georgiades
  • Dataset-Specific Developmental Trajectories of Brain Structure and Function in Neurodevelopmental Conditions: Implications for Replicability - (pg 173-174)
    • Including S. Georgiades
  • Frequency-Specific Differences in Rich-Club Organization in Neurodevelopmental Conditions - (pg 174-175)
    • Including S. Georgiades
  • Linkage of Whole Genome Sequencing and Administrative Health Data in Autism: A Proof of Concept Study - (pg 685)
    • Including S. Georgiades
  • Sex Differences in Predictors of Mental Health Symptoms Level and Growth across Childhood in Autism - (pg 942-943)
    • Including E. Duku, T. Bennett, & S. Georgiades
  • Testing the Stability of Co-Occurring Mental Health Difficulties in a Longitudinal Cohort Study of Autistic Youth - (pg 947-948)
    • Including E. Duku, S. Georgiades, P. Szatmari, & T. Bennett
  • Correlates and Turning Points of Adaptive Functioning Trajectories and Longitudinal Associations with Autism Symptoms from Early Childhood to Adolescence - (pg 1177-1178)
    • Including Y. J. Chen, E. Duku, P. Szatmari, & T. Bennett
  • Investigation of Shifts in the Phenotypic Measures and Sociodemographics of Autism Spectrum Disorders - (pg 351)
    • Including S. Georgiades
  • Daily Activity Participation across Settings in Autistic Youth: Individual Variability and Temporal Stability - (pg 358-359)
    • Including Y. J. Chen, E. Duku, P. Szatmari, T. Bennett, & S. Georgiades
  • Promoting Meaningful Collaboration between Autism Researchers and the Autistic Community: An Example from the Campus Belonging Network - (pg 621-622)
    • Including B. Di Rezze
  • Ready2Work: A User-Informed Employment Website for Autistic Job Seekers - (pg 660-661)
    • Including B. Di Rezze
  • Anxiety Symptoms in Autistic Children and Adolescents: A Network Perspective - (pg 956-957)
    • Including T. Bennett, E. Duku, S. Georgiades, & P. Szatmari
  • Exploring the Association between Social Skills and Social Communication Impairments and Depression in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder - (pg 978-979)
    • Including S. Georgiades
  • Efficacy of the First Years Inventory (FYIv3.1) Infant Screener in Predicting Autism Risk Status at 3 Years of Age - (pg 1022)
    • Including Y. J. Chen
  • Trajectories of Attention Problems in Children with ASD - (pg 229-230)
    • Including P. Szatmari, T. Bennett, E. Duku, & S. Georgiades
  • The Validity of the Narrative Scoring Scheme in School-Aged Children on the Autism Spectrum - (pg 323)
    • Including T. Bennett, E. Duku, S. Georgiades, & P. Szatmari
  • Participation in Standardized Academic Assessments and Academic Achievement of Children with Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Ontario, Canada - (pg 384)
    • Including M. Janus, R. Jezrawi
  • Using Endocrine Profile to Identify Subgroups Among Transdiagnostic Neurodivergent Children and Adolescents - (pg 406-407)
    • Including J. A. Foster, P. Szatmari, & S. Georgiades
  • Benefits of an Online Small Group Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Program for Autistic Children during the Pandemic: Evidence from a Community-Based Implementation Study - (pg 832-833)
    • Including V. Lee
  • Screening for Mental Health Concerns Related to COVID-19 Stressors in Caregivers of Autistic Children Using the CoFaSS - (pg 629-630)
    • Including V. Lee
  • Parent Outcomes Following Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Autistic Children in a Community Setting - (pg 870-871)
    • Including V. Lee
  • Well-Being Among Autistic and Non-Autistic People with Intellectual Disability during the COVID-19 Pandemic - (pg 1231-1232)
    • Including V. Lee




  • Examining the Replicability of Brain Structure Similarly Networks across Data from the Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Disorders Network (POND) and the Healthy Brain Network (HBN) - (pg 180)
    • Including S. Georgiades
  • Linking Mouse and Human Brains to Identify Biologically Significant Clusters in Autism Spectrum Disorder - (pg 181)
    • Including S. Georgiades




  • A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial of Arbaclofen Vs. Placebo in the Treatment of Children and Adolescents with ASD. The “Arba Study” - (pg 898-899)
    • Including J. Frei
  • The Developmental Impacts of Sensory Features on School-Age Functional Outcomes in Autistic and Non-Autistic Children - (pg 1001-1002)
    • Including Y. J. Chen


Yun-Ju (Claire) Chen presenting her panel presentation titled, "The Developmental Impacts of Sensory Features on School-Age Functional Outcomes in Autistic and Non-Autistic Children".

Dr. Yun-Ju Claire Chen at a podium, presenting a slide about the North Carolina Child Development Survey, a prospective birth cohort study.

Dr. Mackenzie Salt Receiving Funding for a National Needs Assessment for Canadian Autistic Adults

We are excited to share the incredible news that at the 2023 Canadian Autism Leadership Summit the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health announced $214,883 in funding for a project to create and distribute a national needs assessment survey for Autistic adults!

This research project is led by MacART member Dr. Mackenzie Salt in collaboration with the Autism Alliance of Canada, and in partnership with the Sinneave Family Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Azrieli Foundation, as well as MacART and the Canadian Journal of Autism Equity.

With this funding, the Autism Alliance of Canada will develop a survey that will include questions about factors affecting quality of life such as employment, social relationships, health, and daily living. The survey findings will be used to inform a National Autism Strategy. The survey data will also be made publicly available for other researchers, service organizations, and policymakers to use to assist with the development of policies, services, and research projects that directly address identified needs of Autistic adults in Canada.

Dr. Salt, an Autistic adult himself, codesigned the survey with 10 other Autistic adults, making this a project by Autistics for Autistics. Dr. Salt said, "This is a perfect opportunity for Autistic adults to be able to inform the development of policy that will affect us, and for our experiences and perspectives to be heard by the federal government.”   

For more information, please see the Public Health Agency of Canada’s official news release