Statement from MacART on World Autism Acceptance Day 2023

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.

April 2nd is World Autism Acceptance Day – a day to encourage autism acceptance beyond just awareness and continue to promote inclusion for the over 75 million Autistic individuals across the world. In Canada, 1 in 50 children and youth aged 1 to 17 are Autistic (PHAC, 2022), necessitating the creation of an inclusive world.

The McMaster Autism Research Team (MacART; is thrilled to recognize World Autism Acceptance Day and the beginning of World Autism Month. MacART is a partnership between McMaster Children’s Hospital, Hamilton Health Sciences, and McMaster University that aims to bridge the research-to-practice gap in autism. MacART is designed to foster collaboration among the individuals, families, researchers, clinicians, educators, and policymakers whose lives and work are touched by autism.

The theme of this year’s World Autism Acceptance Day is Transformation: Toward a Neuro-Inclusive World for All, which highlights the need to move away from the objective of ‘curing’ or conforming to a neurotypical way of thinking and being, and instead move toward accepting, including, and supporting Autistic individuals, as well as joining them in advocating for their rights. This is known as the neurodiversity paradigm, a term coined by sociologist Judy Singer in the late 1990s and based on the notion of respecting the importance of heterogeneity in nature and humanity. When we shift the perspective toward autism acceptance, it is possible to focus more attention on how Autistic people contribute positively to the world.

MacART member and Autistic self-advocate Dr. Mackenzie Salt has been collaborating with several researchers on various projects related to the needs and experiences of Autistic adults. Dr. Salt is co-investigator on a SSHRC-funded research project being led by Dr. Stephanie Ehret, a researcher at Trent University, about experiences of Autistic adults in their interactions with the criminal justice system. This is an area in which there is little information, and the project could help inform a national autism strategy. This project involves a national survey, planned to open in April, asking about experiences Autistic adults have had with, as well as their perceptions of, the criminal justice system. Afterwards, Dr. Salt will facilitate focus groups with Autistic adults to discuss individual experiences in more detail and to further qualify the survey responses. “We don’t know what we don’t know so this is an opportunity to listen and to learn,” he says.

Dr. Salt also spoke recently at the CIHR Health System Impact Fellowship National Cohort Retreat on the topic of Equity and Social Justice in Health Research. He spoke passionately about the situation of Autistic adults in Canada saying, “Autistic adults need to be involved in informing and designing the policy that is meant to support us and will affect us. Since a national autism strategy is being developed, now is the time for increased inclusion of Autistics in these policy and research discussions.”

MacART is committed to furthering the transformation in the narrative around neurodiversity to improve the lives of Autistic people, all in the spirit of advancing autism services and supports through meaningful research.

MacART is proud to be supported by our partners:

  • McMaster University
  • McMaster Children’s Hospital
  • Hamilton Health Sciences & Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation

Click here to download a copy of this statement.