Scroll down to view the presenters for CALS2021!

Hosting a variety of inspiring topics and ideas through a keynote address, stimulating panels, and opportunities for discussion, CALS2021 plans to bring together hundreds of attendees from all 10 provinces and 3 territories to learn, share and build effective strategies. With ample networking opportunities, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to connect and get up to date on developments within the autism community and experts and leaders in the community!

Click here for a printed version of the agenda. All times listed below are in EST on October 6, 2021.


BRENT EDWARDS
Host & Facilitator

Read Brent Edwards's bio

Moose’s legs are the strongest part of this majestic creature’s body. These strikingly fragile-looking legs may look delicate but they hold a massive amount of weight and it’s all done with magnificent ease. This is exactly what Brent Edwards aspires to do – take what may look impossible and make it possible.

Mooselegs2 is dedicated and committed to make sure your positive message is being heard loud and clear. We empower individuals and companies. We challenge. We change. We offer freedom to express thoughts in a trusting environment. We make the impossible possible. LinkedIn

Opening & Closing Ceremonies
October 6, 2021 at 11:30 AM (EST) & 4:30 PM (EST)

JAMES K. BIRD
Member from Dene and Cree Nations of Northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories

Opening & Closing Remarks
October 6, 2021 at 11:30 AM (EST) & 4:30 PM (EST)

JONATHAN LAI
Presenter

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Jonathan Lai (PhD) is the Executive Director at CASDA. He also holds an Adjunct Faculty position in Health Services Research at the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME) in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.

Previously, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at York University, examining predictors of changes in service use for people with developmental disabilities. He led a series of TEDx talks and other integrated knowledge translation projects. This was followed by a CIHR Health System Impact Fellowship at McGill University and the Centre for Innovation in Autism and Intellectual Disabilities, where he led the development of a program evaluation of a specialized medical-dental primary care clinic for people with developmental disabilities, led federal government engagement of evidence-use in policy dialogues, and reports at the United Nations Convention on research evidence used in rights-based approaches for children with disabilities in Canada.

His graduate training in Neuroscience at Guelph and McMaster focused on gene-environment influences on the developing brain, funded consecutively by Ontario Mental Health Foundation and a CIHR Vanier Scholarship. LinkedIn

SERGE BUY
Presenter

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Serge Buy is the Chief Executive Officer for the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Serge has close to thirty years of experience in public affairs and in senior management positions with various not-for-profit corporations. Having started his career on Parliament Hill, Serge brings a good knowledge of the functioning of our government. He is senior partner in a boutique public affairs company and consults on government relations, communications and issues related to governance of NGOs.

THE HONOURABLE JIM MUNSON
Presenter

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The Honourable Jim Munson is a former member of the Senate of Canada. For the past 14 years, The Honourable Jim Munson has been steadfast in his commitment to advocacy on behalf of Autistic people, their loved ones, and their communities. Senator Munson notably presented the 2007 Senate Report: “Pay Now or Pay Later,” catalyzing community leaders to band together to form CASDA. Since 2007, CASDA leaders and Senator Munson have persistently worked with the community on the call for a National Autism Strategy. In 2012, Senator Munson’s commitment to advocacy led to the passing of the World Autism Awareness Day Act. Through Senator Munson’s guidance, dedication, and collaboration with Autistic individuals, autism advocates, and families, in 2019, his dream of a National Autism Strategy came to fruition and is currently in progress. 

KEYNOTE
Visioning a National Autism Strategy
October 6, 2021 at 12:00 PM (EST)

DAMON KIRSEBOM
Keynote Presenter

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Damon Kirsebom is a 20-year-old nonspeaking autistic who was diagnosed at 22 months. After more than 14 years of “punishing silence,” he learned to communicate his thoughts by pointing to letters on a laminated card. With much intensive practice, he was able to type independently, on an iPad and keyboard. Pediatric doctors, educational psychologists, speech-language professionals, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, a developmental physical therapist and numerous educators have observed, interviewed and tested Damon. A comprehensive assessment completed at Vancouver’s Sunny Hill Health Centre (part of BC Children’s Hospital) determined that he has no difficulty understanding the world around him, and has no learning disabilities. Further, as he had reported, Damon was diagnosed with severe, whole-body apraxia and Developmental Coordination Disorder. Damon is committed to “reframing ‘severe’ autism.” Since learning to type, he has communicated with many, many non-speakers whose experiences of autism are very similar to his own. He wrote a chapter in Dr. Edlyn Pena’s book, “Leaders Around Me”; and was a speaker at the 2020 BCEdAccess conference, where his video “Education is a Human Right” was screened. He is also featured in Communication First’s short film, “Listen”; and has twice been interviewed on Vancouver’s CBC Radio.

DEEPA SINGAL
Keynote Presenter

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Deepa Singal is the Director of Scientific and Data Initiatives at CASDA, a Research Scientist at the Manitoba Centre of Health Policy and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health Scientist at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Singal is a quantitative child and maternal health researcher working at the intersection of academia and policy. As two-time Health System Impact Fellow at the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and CIHR Rising Star, Dr. Singal has a breadth of experience working in multiple jurisdictions with policy makers and change makers in the health data science sector. Dr. Singal leads CASDA’s scientific strategy and direction with a particular focus on advancing data driven autism policy that will support Autistic Canadians and their families in reaching their fullest potential. LinkedIn.

PANEL
The Need for an Autistic-led Equity Journal
October 6, 2021 at 12:30 PM (EST)

MACKENZIE SALT
Moderator

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Mackenzie Salt (PhD) is an autistic autism researcher and a postdoctoral CIHR-Mitacs Health System Impact Fellow with CASDA and the McMaster University Autism Research Team (MacART). His current project is creating a model for evaluating health services for autistic adults, using functional criteria, focusing on functional abilities rather than diagnostic labels, as put forth in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. This model aims to be one that can be applied across Canada and will be informed by autistic adults, parents, experts, clinicians, and policymakers.
Previously, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship working with the Pathways in ASD study via MacART. He completed his PhD in Cognitive Science of Language in 2019 at McMaster University and has a background in qualitative linguistic research as well as research and study design involving autistic participants. He recently completed the Certificate course in Family Engagement in Research offered by the KBHN and CanChild and has been advocating for and working to improve research engagement with the autism community since. He has designed a number of research engagement projects and also service evaluation projects for autism service providers incorporating research engagement principles. He is also currently the Editor-in-Chief of the all-autistic editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Autism Equity. LinkedIn

TANYA MCLEOD
Moderator

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Tanya McLeod is currently President of The Sinneave Family Foundation (Sinneave) located in Calgary, Alberta. Committed to delivering outcomes in education, employment and supported independent living, Sinneave seeks to create opportunities, unlock potential and shape a future where autistic Canadians lead fulfilled lives. As a member of CASDA’s Board of Directors, Tanya brings decades of experience working with the federal government as well as skills and experience in governance, teamwork, strategy, risk management, and stakeholder engagement. Tanya is committed to contributing to the alliance’s collaborative work to inform the government’s development of a comprehensive national autism strategy. Tanya also sits on the Board of Directors of PolicyWise for Children and Families, a not-for-profit corporation that exists to improve child, family and community well-being by leading, creating, enabling and mobilizing research and evaluation for evidence-informed policy and practice.

CAMERON WINTERS
Panelist

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Cameron Winter was born in 1991 and diagnosed Autistic in the first grade. He attended Trent University for his undergraduate degree, then the University of Guelph for his master’s degree. He is currently obtaining his PhD in history from Wilfrid Laurier University.

RYAN COLIS
Panelist

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Ryan Collis is Autistic, a high school teacher, a doctoral student in education, a collector of university degrees, an editor of the Canadian Journal of Autistic Equity, and a spouse and father. With degrees in English (BA, Queen’s ‘99), Computer Science (BScH, Queen’s ‘00), Education (BEd, OISE ‘05), and Science and Technology Studies (BScH, York ’19; MA, York ‘20) he has achieved his goal of having more letters after his name than in it. Now in the second year of his PhD in Education at York University, he was awarded an Ontario Graduate Scholarship for his current research on improving the classroom experience for Autistic students in mainstream classes. In addition to his work on the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Autistic Equity, Ryan is co-chair of the student association for education graduate students, a Teaching Assistant in the Writing Department at York, the union steward for the Faculty of Education, and Second Vice President of the 108-year-old Linitzer Benefit Society.

REBEKAH KINTZINGER
Panelist

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Rebekah, diagnosed Autistic in 2012, is a prominent Autistic advocate from Kelowna, British Columbia (BC), Canada. Since her diagnosis, her advocacy has included writing extensively about autism in the context of health and policy, which has led her to be featured in a multitude of mediums including magazines, news articles, webinars, the radio, and has been quoted at the Senate of Canada. In addition to presenting her work at conferences, Rebekah is also a project officer at AIDE Canada and a Director at the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA), where she has published documents on language and autism. Most recently, she spoke at the United Nations Conference Side Event on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and is a founding member of the Canadian Journal of Autism Equity where she continues her advocacy in championing the voices of Autistic Canadians. LinkedIn

TERRI ROBSON
Panelist

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Terri Robson, an Autistic Advocate who struggled to accept and understand the personal impact of Asperger Syndrome. She became determined to share her life experiences with others. She considers herself an “Aspie”; but she is not ableist. Terri is the founder and owner of “Awkward Spirit: Looking Beyond the Mask” and international presenter. She is also founder of an Adult Asperger Support Group and parent support group in Red Deer, Alberta. Terri has made presentations for various professional organizations; including a number of government departments, Alberta Teacher’s Conventions, Children’s Autism Services of Edmonton and a webcast panel for the Employment First Symposium. Terri is very proud to have presented a breakout session after Michelle Garcia Winner. Terri received the “Premiers Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities” Award of Excellence for Public Awareness (in 2016 in the province of Alberta). She has also mentored young men and women with ASDs. Terri’s passion has led her to inspire and empower professionals, caregivers, teachers, and parents in finding the information and supports needed to lessen the struggles for those individuals who may be on the same journey she has travelled. Terri is indeed a remarkable and resilient woman. Dynamic. Funny. Informative. Aspie for life!

GERALD BEAULIEU
Panelist

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Gerald Beaulieu originally comes from Welland, Ontario. He studied art at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, graduating in 1987. In 1988 he moved to Prince Edward Island, where he now lives and works. He was late diagnosed as Autistic at the age of 55. He has received numerous Canada Council for the Arts and Prince Edward Island Council of the Arts awards and a number of national awards for his work. He has had over 80 solo and group exhibitions across Canada, the U.S. and Europe. His work is in several public collections including the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and the Confederation Centre Art Gallery. His permanent and temporary works have been installed in a number of cities in Canada. His most recent work , Extinction, debuted this summer at the Bonavista Biennale in Newfoundland. As a volunteer arts advocate, he has served on the boards of many local and national arts organizations. In these roles he has negotiated voluntary tariffs and collective agreements, presented at numerous conferences, nominated Governor General award winners, and successfully defended artists rights in the Supreme Court of Canada as the president of CARFAC National between 2006-2011.

MADDY DEVER
Panelist

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Maddy is an Autistic adult and parent of five children with four also on the autism spectrum, living in Carleton Place in rural Eastern Ontario. Maddy advocates with both provincial and federal governments for the inclusion and acceptance of Autistic individuals and for Autistic people to have their own voice in policy decisions.

PANEL
Navigating Language Use in Autism: Respect, Rights & Cultural Values
October 6, 2021 at 2:00 PM EST

REBEKAH KINTZINGER
Moderator

Read Rebekah Kintzinger's bio

Rebekah, diagnosed Autistic in 2012, is a prominent Autistic advocate from Kelowna, British Columbia (BC), Canada. Since her diagnosis, her advocacy has included writing extensively about autism in the context of health and policy, which has led her to be featured in a multitude of mediums including magazines, news articles, webinars, the radio, and has been quoted at the Senate of Canada. In addition to presenting her work at conferences, Rebekah is also a project officer at AIDE Canada and a Director at the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA), where she has published documents on language and autism. Most recently, she spoke at the United Nations Conference Side Event on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and is a founding member of the Canadian Journal of Autism Equity where she continues her advocacy in championing the voices of Autistic Canadians. LinkedIn

SHINO NAKANE
Moderator

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Shino has a passion for helping non-profit groups that strive to meet the unique needs of families like hers. Shino is currently the director of community relations with Autism Society Alberta, helping launch province-wide initiatives like Autism Alberta’s Alliance. She is also the vice-chair for the Premier’s Council on the Status for Persons with Disabilities, an advisory body for the Government of Alberta and vice-chair for CASDA. She is the mother of young adult who is on the autism spectrum who communicates uniquely without words to the people he loves and the world around him. LinkedIn

ELSBETH DODMAN
Panelist

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Elsbeth is an Autistic woman from London Ontario. She has a degree in Anthropology, Fine Art History and a post grad in Autism Behavioural Sciences. Elsbeth has worked with the Ontario Child Advocates office on the We Have Something to Say project and with York University on the Autism Mental Health toolkit. Elsbeth has 2 cats and when not advocating she works part time at a book store.

GRANT BRUNO
Panelist

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Grant Bruno is a father to four amazing children, two of which are on the autism spectrum. Grant is a registered member of Samson Cree Nation, one of the reserves that makes up Maskwacis, Alberta. He is a second year PhD in Medical Sciences – Pediatrics student at the University of Alberta. His PhD research will explore redefining autism from a Cree lens, gathering stories with families and individuals who have experiences with neurodiversity using a strength-based approach, as well as gathering data on the perspectives of autism in Maskwacis. His philosophy is that autism is an adventure and is something to be embraced. Grant is also on the steering committee for the Autism Society Alberta and the Chair for the Society’s Indigenous Relations Circle.

CAROLYN TINGLIN
Panelist

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Carolyn Tinglin is a Registered Nurse (Cognitive Wellness/Mental Health) and a PhD student in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University (Education Equity, Racialized Dis/Ability). Carolyn is also the executive director of YAIJ – The Youth Alliance for Intersectional Justice (YAIJ.org) – through youth-led projects, initiatives and research, Black and Indigenous youth with intellectual and/or developmental dis/ability labels are financially, instrumentally, and holistically supported to engage in meaningful justice-based activities. YAIJ is a federally registered non profit.

MYRIAM BEAUCHAMP
Panelist

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Myriam L. H. Beauchamp, M.S. SLP/ORT, Ph.D, is currently a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University and a recipient of the Québec Autism Research Training (QART) programme grant. She has also been a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist for 10 years. In her clinical practice, Dr. Beauchamp’s work has mainly focused on assessing and supporting the language development of bilingual and multilingual children, and of children on the autism spectrum. Dr. Beauchamp’s research examines language development and use in bilingual and monolingual children from various developmental contexts, including autism. She is also interested in understanding the influence of bilingualism on cognitive and social development. Additionally, Dr. Beauchamp advocates for the rights of individuals from minority language families to learn that minority language. She is also an Assistant Lecturer for the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Alberta.

HILDA HO
Panelist

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Dr. Hilda Ho is a pediatric psychology fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. She completed her Ph.D, as well as her M.A, in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology program at York University. She also holds a Master of Public Health degree from The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research is within the field of Developmental Disabilities and specifically, in the diagnosis and assessment process of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Canada and in Asia.

JOSEPH SHEPPARD
Panelist

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Joseph was Co-Director of the Centre for Autism Research, Technology, and Education (CARTE) and was Chair of UVic’s Society for Students with a Disability. He founded, and is senior editor, of Autism’s Own journal and conference, and is editor of the Canadian Journal of Autism Equity. He founded Authors with Autism, a university peer-support network enabling students on the spectrum to author their own lives through the power of creative writing, presently with over 1600 members. His graduate research focuses on modeling global cognition for psychoeducational interventions to reduce psychological distress. Joseph is also an electronic soundscape artist, writer, and structural designer. 

PANEL
Moving from Strategy to Policy:
Community Engagement on a National Autism Strategy from CASDA-KBHN Policy Fellows
October 6, 2021 at 3:30PM (EST)

MADDY DEVER
Moderator

Read Maddy Dever's bio

Maddy is an Autistic adult and parent of five children with four also on the autism spectrum, living in Carleton Place in rural Eastern Ontario. Maddy advocates with both provincial and federal governments for the inclusion and acceptance of Autistic individuals and for Autistic people to have their own voice in policy decisions.

BRIAN FOSTER
Moderator

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Brian Foster (MA 2005; Ph.D. 2012) has worked in non-profits for over 10 years, and is an experienced political and social policy analyst, strategic consultant, and lecturer–having taught in history and disability studies at several universities and colleges across Nova Scotia and Ontario. As the Operations Director at Autism Nova Scotia, Brian oversees day-to-day operations and strategic direction of several frontline departments, coordinates the development of much of the organization’s social and policy research, and directs Exploring the Spectrum–a rapidly growing training social enterprise. Brian has been pleased to help Autism Nova Scotia develop into one of the largest community-based autism Organizations in Canada, and a leader in advocacy, supports, training and programming across the lifespan. His current advocacy and social policy work is focused on expanding employment supports, affordable-supportive housing policies, and helping build a person-directed facilitation network across Nova Scotia.

JESSI LEWIS
Panelist

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Jessi Lewis, M.Sc., is a doctoral student in the University of Victoria’s Clinical Neuropsychology program. She received her B.Sc. in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience from the University of Michigan. Jessi’s research interests include developing and validating accessible, evidence-informed supports and resources for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDDs) as a way to improve health-related quality of life, equity, and inclusion. She is interested in how policy development affects the accessibility of resources, supports, and services for children with NDDs and holds a long-term goal of contributing to policy regarding resource allocation and equity. Through her work as a CASDA-KBHN Policy Fellow, Jessi greatly valued the opportunity to build upon these experiences and learn more about stakeholder engagement in policy development while also getting to work alongside stakeholders in the area of evidence-informed supports.

VANESSA FONG
Panelist

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Vanessa Fong is a doctoral student supervised by Dr. Grace Iarocci in the Developmental Psychology program at Simon Fraser University. Her thesis adopts a community engaged approach to understanding quality of life and service navigation in culturally diverse families raising autistic children. Recently, her research has also focused on exploring the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and service needs of caregivers and families of individuals with developmental disabilities. She is also interested in evaluating programs to promote resilience and improve well-being in caregivers of children with developmental disabilities.

Throughout her graduate studies she has become deeply committed to community engagement and knowledge translation. She has experience collaborating with non-profit organizations, policymakers, and individuals and their families in finding potential solutions to improve policies that impact the autism community. She has received training from the BC SUPPORT (Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials) Unit, KT Summer Institute, Community-Engaged Research Initiative (CERI) at SFU, and the Kids Brain Health Network.

JESSICA BARASKEWICH
Panelist

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Jessica is a PhD Candidate in School and Applied Child Psychology at the University of Calgary where her research focuses on mental health in autistic youth. Under the supervision of Dr. Carly McMorris, her dissertation project is examining body image and eating concerns in autistic and non-autistic teens. She has extensive clinical experience working with autistic children and youth, helping them to address a variety of needs (e.g., mental health, behavioural, social). Her interest in policy related to autism spectrum disorder stems from her clinical and research work with autistic children and their families. Through her interactions with individuals and families in assessment, intervention, and research settings, Jessica has witnessed the complexities and challenges of accessing services, navigating care, and how provincial and federal policies impact the day-to-day lives of families. Through her work as a CASDA-KBHN Policy Fellow she hopes to help address these complexities and challenges families experience when accessing evidence-informed supports and services.

JACALYN GUY
Panelist

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Jackie earned her BSc, MSc, and PhD (Neuroscience) all at McGill University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Oxford. Funded by the Fonds de Recherche Sante-Quebec, she investigated sensory-related abilities that underpin cognition and behaviour in autism and fragile-x syndrome. Currently, Jackie works at the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge. Her work aims to understand how and why children struggle at school irrespective of any clinical diagnosis, with a long-term goal of developing targeted interventions and risk factors for long-term difficulties. She is excited to broaden her interests outside of a traditional academic setting to engage with stakeholders and translate research into evidence-informed policies.

HADAS DAHARY
Panelist

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Hadas is a doctoral candidate of the School/Applied Child Psychology program at McGill University. She has a keen interest in supporting the autism community in her capacities as a researcher- and clinician-in-training. Her interest in autism research began while completing her B.A. in the Specialized Honours Psychology Program at York University where she received opportunities to collaborate on research projects that examined training memory strategy use and social emotional learning interventions for autistic children. In addition, she conducted her honours thesis under the supervision of Dr. James Bebko, which explored the use of infrared eye tracking data to measure multimodal information processing strategies in autism. Hadas continues to pursue her passion for autism research with her current supervisor, Dr. Eve-Marie Quintin. Her master’s project compared emotion perception in music and faces among autistic adolescents, which provided support for the potential use of music as a novel strength-based modality for optimizing children’s social and emotional functioning. To extend this work, Hadas was motivated to pursue her doctoral research on assessing the effect of a school-based drum circle program on the social inclusion of neurodivergent children. Her research proposal for this work was awarded the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Doctoral Scholarship. Moreover, Hadas was a former trainee of the Canadian Autism Research Training program and is a current trainee of the Quebec Autism Research Training program, which have both played an instrumental role in broadening her understanding of autism and knowledge translation skills. Furthermore, Hadas has the pleasure of regularly working with neurodivergent people at various school and pediatric settings. This clinical experience has allowed her to learn about the barriers to accessing educational and health services for neurodivergent communities, the demand for evidence-based treatments in the public system, and the need for a tailored versus a one-size-fits all approach to patient care. Hadas is enthusiastic about improving her understanding of how researchers, service providers, autistic and neurodivergent advocates, and policymakers, can collaborate to increase social inclusion in Canada.

JOHN SHEEHAN
Panelist

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John is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Victoria under the supervision of Dr. Sarah Macoun, where he specializes in early assessment/diagnosis of diverse neurodevelopmental concerns and the development and evaluation of accessible and affordable clinical interventions. As part of his work to create and improve early assessment tools, John is a co-creator of the Computerized Preschool Executive Functioning (CPEF) Battery, a group of tablet-based assessment tools that evaluate the executive functioning abilities of preschool-aged children. Across all of his clinical work and research, a primary interest is the role that various systems play in the emergence of neurodevelopmental concerns and how they can be optimized to help children and families reach their own unique goals.

WASAN NAGIB
Panelist

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After several years of professional practice as an architect and a community planner, Nagib began their graduate career at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. Robert Wilson. Their interest included creating enabling environments for individuals with disabilities and developing evidence-based policies to improve their inclusion in employment housing and the broader community. Their dissertation, funded by the SSCRHC doctoral fellowship, was entitled “Surviving the labour market: Understanding the experiences of women and men with autism.” The study focused on exploring the role of gender concerning factors affecting career decisions, barriers to finding jobs, and workplace challenges to maintain employment. Their work contributed several policy implications, including gender-sensitive programs and support services, to improve women’s employment experiences and work-family balance with autism.