MacART 2nd Autism Research Stakeholder Symposium

MacART 2nd Autism Research Stakeholder Symposium

MacART held its 2nd symposium on Friday, September 15th, 2017 at McMaster Innovation Park. This year’s symposium theme was “Rethinking Autism Training” and our keynote speaker was Dr. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, Co-Director of the Autism Research Centre in Edmonton, Alberta and leader of the national Autism Research Training Program. This year’s theme was a topic ripe for innovation, and produced excellent discussions leading to the identification of stakeholder priorities related to autism training!

To learn more about the ideas and knowledge that came from the Symposium, please see our report:

Date: Friday, September 15, 2017 – 09:00 to 15:00

Location: McMaster Innovation Park (MIP), Hamilton, Ontario

Agenda: MacART Symposium Agenda 2017

Keynote Speaker

Keynote Speaker Dr. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum

Dr. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum

Dr. Zwaigenbaum is a developmental pediatrician and site lead for Child Health at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, where he co-directs the Autism Research Centre. He currently holds the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Autism Research and is Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta. His current research focuses on early behavioral and biological markers, and developmental trajectories in children and youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). He also directs one of the two Canadian sites of the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, which focuses on approaches to optimizing acute health care for children and youth with ASD. He has been the program director for the national Autism Research Training Program since 2011.

Partners & Collaborators

Mrgaret Spoelstra

Margaret Spoelstra, Autism Ontario

Marg Spoelstra is the Executive Director of Autism Ontario and a Member of the Order of Canada. A special education teacher by training, Marg Spoelstra has spent the past 35 years working with individuals with a variety of special needs, especially those with autism.

Esther Rhee

Esther Rhee, Autism Speaks

As the National Program Director for Autism Speaks Canada, Esther’s role focuses on supporting individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families across Canada through the organization’s mission to increase resources and services, increase autism research, build awareness and work as a collaborative community.

Cynthia Carroll

Cynthia Carroll, CASDA

Cynthia Carroll is the current chair of the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance, and Executive Director of Autism Nova Scotia. She is known as a visionary and tireless advocate for autism. In 2008, Cynthia founded the Autism Council of Nova Scotia, uniting autism groups across the province. In 2010, she participated on a working group that made 53 recommendations to government addressing gaps in service, resulting in the first ASD Action Plan in the country.

Kerry Boyd

Kerry Boyd, McMaster University

Kerry Boyd is a psychiatrist with over 20 years of experience working with teams that serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the lifespan. She currently works at McMaster Children’s Hospital and Bethesda Services. She is committed to improving the care of persons living with developmental disabilities through education. As a 2013-2015 AMS Phoenix Project Fellow, Dr Boyd lead the development of the Curriculum of Caring for People with Developmental Disabilities with web-based resources found at

Anna DiFazio

Anna DiFazio, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

Anna DiFazio is the Manager of Intensive Support Services with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. She leads a team of professionals and educators in supporting children and youth with complex communication and/or multiple developmental needs. Many of these students are on the autism spectrum.

Anna DiFazio

Michelle Torsney, Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board

Michelle Torsney is a speech-language pathologist and Manager of Speech Language + Hearing Services at the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board. Before taking on her current role, Michelle was a founding member of the ASD team, comprised of SLPs, Resource Teachers and EAs, providing a collaborative, integrated approach to support students with ASD in fully inclusive classrooms.

Sarah Hardy

Sarah Hardy, MCYS

Sarah Hardy is the Director of the Ontario Autism Program Project Team at the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, where she oversees the design and implementation of Ontario’s new Autism Program.

Dr Sean Park

Sean Park, McMaster University

Sean is a teaching professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Health Leadership Academy at McMaster University. He teaches courses in design thinking, creativity, social innovation, and qualitative research. Sean is passionate about helping people listen, dream, co-create and act in ways that bring transformation, from the personal to the systemic.

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