2022-2023 MacART Progress Report

Seven years after its establishment, MacART has over 40 members from across 13 academic departments and 4 research centres, allowing collaboration across diverse disciplines and experiences in autism. Our members continue to involve themselves in a large breadth of research and projects, charting new waters in the spirit of advancing autism care through meaningful research. This report reflects some of the innovative work that our members are currently working on.

2023 Autism Research Symposium Report

Here you can find our report covering MacART’s 3rd Autism Research Symposium, on the theme of ‘Autism & Mental Health: Towards an Ecological Lifespan Approach’.

We were grateful for the voices of all 110 of our participants, who included Autistic self-advocates and community advocates, family members, clinicians, community organization representatives, educators, policy makers, researchers, service providers/planners, and students & trainees, all coming together to help identify priorities related to autism and mental health.

Thank you for your contributions to our collaborative day! People’s participation in our interactive sessions helped us develop a set of key messages to be used in future research and service planning:

  • Considering the whole person

    We need to cultivate inclusive and equitable environments that consider every layer of the ‘ecological rings’ throughout the lifespan, including healthy and well-supported families, schools, workplaces, and communities.

  • Listening to lived experiences and marginalized voices

    There is a need to ensure the integration of family, patient, and first-person voices into all discussions. This emphasizes the need for intersectional and tailored approaches that respect individual contexts and experiences, moving away from the usual ‘one-size-fits-all’ models.

  • Cross-sectoral collaboration and cooperation

    A future priority is to break down existing siloes and improve communication between all entities who support Autistic people. This includes professionals during the diagnostic process, schools, healthcare providers, and child and adult services, especially during transitional periods. We need to restructure systems to focus on providing the right care to meet current needs.

2020-2021 MacART Progress Report

Five years after its creation, MacART now has over 40 members from across multiple academic departments and research centres, bringing together a diversity of knowledge and perspectives related to autism. Our members are involved in numerous projects and initiatives – the breadth of research and other activities that this team is involved in is truly impressive, and we have highlighted some of that work in this report.

2017 Autism Research Stakeholder Symposium Report

Below we are sharing our report from MacART’s second Autism Research Stakeholder Symposium, on the theme of ‘Rethinking Autism Training’.

Once again, there was strong support from the Autism community as 250 participants (representing the full spectrum of stakeholders: families, autistic advocates, educators, clinicians, researchers, policy makers, students, and trainees) came together to help identify stakeholder priorities related to autism training. Thank you to all those who took part and helped generate these key training priorities:

Stakeholder collaboration must begin early, and be integrated at the training level, in order to foster lasting relationships. To ensure success, parameters and principles for meaningful collaboration must be identified and evaluated.

There is a need to develop infrastructure for accessible evidence-based training connecting those coming from diverse disciplines, backgrounds, and perspectives.

We all share a common vision of supporting Autistic persons. Drawing from motivational training approaches can create opportunities to utilize and embrace this diversity to advance interdisciplinary training models and initiatives.

  • Embedding Stakeholder Collaboration into Training Programs
  • Building Infrastructure & Capacity for Interdisciplinary Training
  • Using Diversity in Personal Experiences to Advance Training

2016 Autism Research Stakeholder Symposium Report

Read the report on MacART’s Inaugural Symposium, where on January 15, 2016 we brought together over 150 Autism stakeholders to plan collaborations to help advance autism care through meaningful research.

Thank you to all those stakeholders – Autistic persons, family members, researchers, clinicians, clinician-researchers, and policymakers – who attended the Symposium. In the report you can see how your ideas, knowledge, and experience came together to formulate these key messages, which will be used in future research and program planning:  

  • Shift the system’s emphasis from diagnosis to function

    Autism develops early and over time. Tying intervention to red flags and developmental delays rather than a diagnosis will allow families to access interventions at the first emergence of signs for optimal development and outcomes.

  • Achieving pragmatic balance

    Understanding the shared characteristics of Autistic children must be balanced with a consideration of the individual needs of each child. Care should be personalized to each child’s strengths and relative weaknesses, while being standardized across patients.

  • Focus on the whole family

    Families are the driving force of change in autism awareness and research. Interventions should involve families directly and families must be included in every aspect of research and treatment.

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