The Research Exchange Group on Autism is open to the public; the presentations hosted by this group will be of interest to people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families/caregivers as well as to the research community.

The Research Exchange Group on Autism was founded in partnership with the Autism Research Committee.

ASD is a neurological disorder that affects roughly one in 135 people, with incidence rates among males approximately three times higher than those among females. The Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador established the Autism Research Exchange Group after a workshop on ASD research that was attended by a number of researchers who suggested that a Research Exchange Group be convened to bring together those who are interested in, or are currently conducting, research on this topic. The unique genetic population of Newfoundland and Labrador presents good potential for ASD research in the province, but there is also potential for research in non-medical disciplines that can help provide insight into the disorder or help improve treatment options. The overall goals of the Research Exchange Group on Autism are:

  • to create trans-disciplinary research linkages;
  • to identify gaps in existing research literature; and
  • to work towards developing greater overall capacity to conduct research on Autism Spectrum Disorder.

NLCAHR’s Research Exchange Group on Autism meets regularly to discuss research, review funding opportunities and collaborate on research projects. The group also provides a forum where students, researchers, policy makers and the general public can meet to discuss issues related to autism.


March 22, 2021 | Autism Society-NL (ASNL): Programming Update & Research Potential
Julia Pender, Navigator, on behalf of  Sarah White, Manager of Programs and Services at the Autism Society of NL, provided an update on ASNL’s many programs and services, highlighting the challenges and opportunities that have unfolded as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the switch to virtual services. We also introduce our membership to ASNL’s new Chief Executive Officer, J. Paul Walsh.  After the presentation we had a discussion about research potential and opportunities for collaboration among university faculty and student researchers, health system partners, and ASNL.

October 6, 2020 at 12:30pm: Lisa Baker Worthman of the Department of Health and Community Services, provided a briefing on the province's new ASD Action Plan

November 4, 2020 at 12:30pm: Autism Society NL hosts an evidence-based sexuality program for young adults with ASD. The program, called Healthy Relationships and Sexuality, is now educating its third cohort. So far, the feedback has been wonderful. The educator, Jennifer Spracklin, is a registered clinical sexologist who presented about the program and her services. 

December 14, 2020 at 12noon NST: ASD-Specific Housing Supports Analysis |Presenters: Dr. Sharon Penney, Dr. Kimberly Maich, Robyn Cossitt |This presentation will discuss the results of a needs assessment conducted in Newfoundland and Labrador that quantifies, frames, and contextualizes the processes and/or problems experienced by adults with ASD while accessing housing in NL. The study uses a sequential mixed methodology approach, applying quantitative and qualitative methods to determine the current housing situation, gaps in services, and possible solutions.  After completing an initial literature review of provincial, Canadian, and international sources, the research team conducted 19 interviews with adults with ASD, caregivers/parents of adults with ASD, and service providers to determine the current needs, barriers and experiences when accessing and maintaining housing. Using data and directions collected from the interviews, the research team developed an ongoing online survey to reach a greater number of participants. Preliminary findings from participant interviews and surveys identify three significant areas of concern: life span development and developmentally appropriate practices; vulnerability and discrimination; and accessibility. Participation in this study offers community members the chance to influence the future of supportive housing for people with ASD in NL, hopefully minimizing gaps in services.

February 26, 2020|Trudy Goold on the Canadian Association for Autistic Collaboration, a new organization in which people with autism will help to connect persons with ASD, researchers, and policy makers.

October 4, 2019 |  Parent Early Detection and Intervention of ASD Signs in Infants At-Risk with Dr. Maurice Feldman, Dept. of Applied Disability Studies, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario and Dr. Rebecca Ward, Phoenix Centre for Learning and Dept. of Applied Disability Studies, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario.| Drs. Feldman and Ward presented three studies from their ASD lab. The first describes the validation of the Parent Observation of Early Markers Scale (POEMS), a 61-item parent report checklist that tracks the development of at-risk children from birth to 36 months. The second study focuses on the relationship between family history of medical, developmental and psychiatric conditions and POEMS scores in infants at low and high risk for ASD. The third study shows how the POEMS can be used to identify early intervention targets and the effectiveness of parent-mediated early intervention for pre-diagnosed at-risk young children. Taken together, these studies show that the POEMS is a low-cost, valid screener that can detect risk of ASD in infants and that parent mediated early intervention may remediate early ASD signs in these children.

November 12, 2019 | Mark Gauci on ABA Access: software to aid online delivery of applied behavior analysis therapyABA Access is a St. John’s-based IT company that is developing specialized interactive software for the online delivery of applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy. Its goal is to offer parents of autistic children the tools to continue with therapy under the supervision of a senior therapist when their child’s regular therapist is unavailable. This interactive digital health solution allows children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to receive Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy without physical interaction with a therapist and to better co-ordinate patient data between therapists.

September 12, 2019|Megan Marshall on the use of Horticultural Therapy practices in the Autism Society of NL's Transitions Program, how the program taps into communicative and social skill issues that people with Autism face by using Horticultural Therapy approaches and how these approaches help teach functional employment skills.

November 8, 2018 | Gregory Knott on Autism and entrepreneurship: An examination of the effectiveness of self-employment as a model to address the economic isolation experienced by individuals with autism spectrum disorder. LINK TO SLIDES

October 4, 2018| Trudy Goold on Autism and Sensory Processing - An Overview From Lived Experience LINK TO SLIDES

February 7, 2018 | Julie Lewis on Lessons Learned from Children with ASD at Sassy Tuna Studios LINK TO SLIDES

March 14, 2018|  Joanne Smith Young Managing the Wait for Autism Spectrum Disorder Services in Newfoundland and Labrador: A Grounded Theory Study

Thursday, October 25, 2017 | The Worktopia Project | Ann MacDougall, Coordinator, Employment Works (Worktopia) on EmploymentWorks Canada (EWC) a new and federally funded program that offers 12 weeks of employment readiness training for young adults on the spectrum who are no longer in school and are seeking opportunities to build employability. 

March 29, 2016Phil Murphy, MSc., Data Consultant/Analyst – Perinatal Program Newfoundland and Labrador |  Professional Associate - Memorial University (Obstetrics/Gynecology, Pediatrics) Perinatal Program Newfoundland and Labrador :  "Journey to the Janeway's Autism Clinic"

October 8, 2015 | “Incidence and cohort prevalence for autism spectrum disorders in the Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland and Labrador” with Dr. Roger Chafe

February 26, 2014 |  Dr. Rick Audas on  "Barriers and Facilitators to Accessing Services for Children and Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder"

November 4, 2013 | Dr. Sharon Penney on Challenges Associated with a Diagnosis of ASD

February 2012| Dr. Roger Chafe, "Improving the Transitioning of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders to Adult Care."


Newfoundland & Labrador Centre for Applied Health Research

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000