After a child receives an autism diagnosis, parents often want to know ‘what to expect.’ This is a difficult question to answer, as each child on the autism spectrum is different. To date, research has focused on groups of children, so not much is known about how individual children develop over time. As a result, our systems of care often do not meet the unique and changing needs of children on the autism spectrum. Moreover, most follow-up studies have focused on child symptoms and deficits (what a child cannot do) with little emphasis on child functioning (what a child can do).
To understand the diverse trajectories of functioning in children on the autism spectrum, the McMaster Autism Research Team (MacART) is conducting the Pediatric Autism Research Cohort (PARC) Study. The PARC Study is a multi-site longitudinal study of newly diagnosed Autistic children and seeks to examine variabilities in trajectories of functioning in children on the autism spectrum.
This study aims to create knowledge on ‘what impacts development’ in children on the autism spectrum to help: a) clinicians develop more personalized care plans, and b) governments plan programs and policies based on up-to-date research evidence.
This work will also help inform the National Autism Strategy.
Autism Alliance of Canada is one of the key organizations partnering with MacART to ensure the study is helpful to families, clinicians, and policy makers across Canada. Furthermore, Autism Alliance of Canada will bring people together and will share the knowledge with the community.