Intervention research

Through resilience and recovery models, we are currently conducting research on interventions that promote mental health in people with developmental disabilities, and on the factors that increase the risk of mental health problems. Topics include:

  • The protective role that Special Olympics can play for people with developmental disabilities
  • Cognitive behavioural interventions for autistic children, adolescents, and adults
  • Social skills groups for autistic children

Health and social services research

We are interested in how people with developmental disabilities access equitable physical and mental health care, and are currently examining how the Gateway Provider Model can be used to conceptualize the process of health care access for autistic adolescents and adults (Stiffman, Pescosolido, & Cabassa, 2004). This research is a collaborative effort with the Dual Diagnosis Research Program (headed by Dr. Yona Lunsky) at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Other topics include:

  • The service needs of people with dual diagnosis (mental illness and developmental disabilities)
  • Emergency service use and the experience of crisis in people with developmental disabilities
  • Interdisciplinary allied health training in developmental disabilities
  • Clinical psychology graduate training in developmental disabilities
  • Working with government to improve developmental services

Family research

Families play a critical role in the health and well-being of family members with developmental disabilities. Understanding the experience of family caregivers of people with developmental disabilities across the lifespan can help us to develop effective supports to keep families healthy and address caregiver problems if they arise. We believe that healthy individuals contribute to healthy families, and healthy families contribute to healthy individuals. Topics include:

  • The experience of families of autistic people, people with intellectual disabilities or dual diagnosis
  • Family hardiness and coping with multiple stressors
  • The role of Special Olympics for parents of athletes with intellectual disabilities