MacART at the Canadian Autism Leadership Summit 2020

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.

On October 5th and 6th, 2020, the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance (CASDA) held its 6th Canadian Autism Leadership Summit. The Summit’s theme this year was “Connect. Inform. Act. Sustain.” – focusing on deepening the conversation on how to link policy, practice and data around the development of a National Autism Strategy.

MacART was once again well represented at the Summit, with our members sharing our research findings, exchanging ideas, and collaborating with other members of the national autism community. This year, MacART members contributed to 6 poster presentations and participated in 2 panels. Our Founder and Co-Director Stelios Georgiades led the summit’s Keynote presentation.

“Our McMaster team has answered the call by Canada’s autism community” says Dr. Georgiades. “Our experts are working on several initiatives related to the creation of a National Autism Strategy. The knowledge generated through our research projects is advancing the autism field. Our collaborative efforts with CASDA to connect research with policy and practice are now more important than ever. I am optimistic that we are on the right track toward a national strategy that will address the needs of all autistic Canadians.”

Our members took part in the following:

Keynote session, Day 1: Pathways in ASD Team  on “Developmental Pathways of Canadian Children on the Autism Spectrum”

  • This presentation provided an update on the "Pathways in ASD" study, the largest autism follow-up study in the world. The "Pathways in ASD" research team, led by MacART Co-Director Dr. Stelios Georgiades, discussed evidence on the individual, family, community, and services factors that influence the developmental pathways in autistic children/youth from across 5 Canadian provinces.


Poster Presentations:

  • The Family Check-Up: Engaging Families in Child Mental Health Prevention and CareDr. Teresa Bennett
  • Association Between Neighbourhood Socioeconomic Status and Development of Children with Autism Spectrum DisorderDr. Ayesha Siddiqua
    • A video recording of this presentation can be viewed here.
  • Peer Mentorship Programs for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A qualitative reviewLinda Nguyen
    • A video recording of this presentation can be viewed here.
  • Presenting the Results of Autism Speaks Canada COVID-19 Pandemic Needs Assessment SurveyDr. Mackenzie Salt and Peter Soliman
    • A video recording of this presentation can be viewed here.
  • Evaluation of Autism Ontario’s Service Navigation Program – Irene O’Connor, Dr. Jean-Eric Tarride & Dr. Stelios Georgiades
  • Clarifying the Word “Information” in Autism PolicyDr. Stephen Gentles
    • A video recording of this presentation can be viewed here.


Panel Discussions:

  • IGNITE Speakers Equity panel – Addressing Disparities in a National Autism Strategy: an Equity Lens – discussant Dr. Mackenzie Salt
  • Policy Group Consultations  – discussant Dr. Stephen Gentles


As CASDA continues to facilitate the work toward a National Autism Strategy, MacART is proud to support this important goal. From implementing our research studies, to supporting the development of policy briefs, to collaborating on projects with our community partners, the hope is that the evidence generated can be used to inform the creation of a strategy that will support Canada’s autism community in a meaningful way.

MacART members presenting at the Canadian Autism Leadership Summit 2020. From top left to right: Irene O’Connor, Jean-Eric Tarride, Stelios Georgiades, Terry Bennett, Mackenzie Salt. From bottom left to right: Ayesha Siddiqua, Eric Duku, Peter Szatmari, Linda Nguyen, Steve Gentles.

MacART members presenting at the Canadian Autism Leadership Summit 2020. From top left to right: Irene O’Connor,
Jean-Eric Tarride, Stelios Georgiades, Terry Bennett, Mackenzie Salt. From bottom left to right: Ayesha Siddiqua,
Eric Duku, Peter Szatmari, Linda Nguyen, Steve Gentles.