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.

Upcoming Meetings

November 8, 2018, 12:30pm NST Gregory Knott will present his Master’s research in Community Development (University of Victoria’s School of Public Administration) and his research 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.

December 7, 2018, 12:30pm NST Alyson Judd will present her research on how the accuracy of children's language production relates to performance on other developmental tasks (this includes producing rhymes and separating words into their component sounds). 

Previous Meetings

October 4, 2018| Autism and Sensory Processing - An Overview From Lived Experience


Trudy Goold, who was diagnosed with Aspberger's at age 35,  shared her lived experience of, and her personal research into, sensory processing issues in autism and what effects these can have, including providing the group with an overview of human sensory systems and self-stimulatory behaviour, (also known as “stimming”) which is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or words, or the repetitive movement of objects, that is often prevalent in people with autism spectrum disorders. Trudy also talked about self-harm stimming, along with some possible methods for helping change these behaviours, and how hyper and hypo sensitivities can help or hinder.

February 7, 2018 | Lessons Learned from Children with ASD at Sassy Tuna Studios | Julie Lewis, the founder of Sassy Tuna Studios, is a trained animator and designer who spends most of her time drawing, teaching, and studying.  As the creative force behind Sassy Tuna Studio, she teaches and demonstrates drawing how-tos in festive ways. Most of her students have Autism Spectrum Disorder and they’re brilliant! In Julie’s talk, she shared her unique experiences and lessons learned from engaging with these children in creative ways. LINK TO SLIDESHOW

March 14, 2018|  Joanne Smith Young Managing the Wait for Autism Spectrum Disorder Services in Newfoundland and Labrador: A Grounded Theory Study
Joanne Smith-Young, PhD(C), MN, RN, Division of Clinical Epidemiology will present the results of research she conducted with Roger Chafe, PhD, Associate Professor, Division of Pediatrics and Rick Audas, PhD, Associate Professor, Division of Community Health and Humanities, Memorial University of Newfoundland.  This qualitative study explored parents’ experiences in accessing diagnostic and treatment services for their children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Newfoundland and Labrador. Seventeen parents of children and adolescents diagnosed with ASD were interviewed and the results were analyzed to conceptualize their overall process of waiting. The process model developed includes three main phases, (each with various sub-phases): (1) Watchful waiting (noticing suspected behaviors, and searching for assessment and diagnosis); (2) Informed waiting (receiving the diagnosis, facing challenges in accessing treatment services, and realizing the impact of an ASD diagnosis); and (3) Contemplative waiting (pondering the future, reflecting on the past, and making recommendations). ‘Managing the Wait’ was recognized as the core category central to the waiting process. How parents manage wait times for services was impacted by socioeconomic status, parents’ skills and capacity to advocate on their child’s behalf, and severity of their child’s ASD.

Thursday, October 25, 2017 | he 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. Through self-awareness activities and understanding employment expectations, participants engage in peer mentor learning and community workplace.

March 29, 2016 | Phil 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."

Call for Presenters

We are always on the lookout for presenters to share research or programming information with our group. If you have a presentation to share, or would like to suggest a presenter from outside the province with whom we might connect by webinar. Additionally, if you’ve read an interesting article about ASD that you’d like to share and discuss with the group, we can circulate the article and then host a journal club meeting to talk about it. Please contact Rochelle.



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