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Research project aims to increase access to autism therapies

Every year, approximately 1 in 100 Canadian children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. While symptoms can vary from mild communication challenges to extreme social and behavioural impairments, occupational therapy can greatly improve a child’s everyday ability to manage. However, access to therapies can vary, and in some countries, healthcare systems may not be fully equipped to provide care and assistance to families as rates of diagnosis continue to climb.

Enter intern Ingrid Simões Monteiro, from Universidade Federal de Rondônia, in Brazil. This summer, Ingrid has been working with the Global Special Interest Group on Early Identification and Intervention in Autism at McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry. In collaboration with Professor Mayada Elsabbagh and PhD student Afiqah Yusuf, Ingrid is helping to write a research paper that compares support for autism services between Canada and her home country of Brazil. Together, they hope to better understand how children with the disorder and their families can access care, and how governments in each of the countries can make improvements to access, where necessary.

For Ingrid, the research is helping to give her a big-picture perspective of a very personal subject.

I have a cousin who has autism, but his family cannot access suitable care for him because of where they live. Doing this research is helping me to understand more about access to therapies for these children so that maybe one day I could help him, and others too.”

In addition to the research, Ingrid is enjoying a diverse experience in Quebec. “Coming to Montreal has given me a chance to know more about myself and the world. I am learning how to cook, but also cooking foods with the other Globalink students so I am also learning about their cultures.” She hints about a future in clinical psychology that also includes Canada. “Canada is a country that gives us so much potential to grow. I definitely want to come back for more studies in the future.”
 


Mitacs would like to thank the Government of Canada, along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, and the Government of Saskatchewan for their support of Mitacs Globalink Research Internships. In addition, Mitacs is pleased to work with international partners to support Globalink, including the China Scholarship Council, Campus France, India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development, Mexico’s Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education, and Tunisia’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Mission Universitaire de Tunisie en Amerique du Nord.