Honouring research to improve life for young people with autism

Two Ontario university researchers are being recognized for their research to improve the lives of young people with autism.

Patrick Jachyra, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, and Kaitlyn Parks, a Master’s student at Western University, are the 2018 recipients of the Council of Ontario Universities’ Autism Scholarship Awards.

Jachyra, who receives the $20,000 Doctoral Award, is studying the social and behavioral reasons why young people with autism tend to be less physically active, and what changes can be made to their support systems to encourage more activity.

Parks, recipient of the $18,000 Masters Award, is researching the role played by statistical learning – the ability to understand patterns and probabilities in everyday language – in the difficulties young people with autism have with language and social communication.

The Autism Scholarship Awards support the latest in leading-edge research into autism, which is the fastest growing neurological disorder in Canada, and which affects one in 66 Canadian children, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“The research of this year’s scholars, and the broad range of  autism research being conducted across Ontario’s universities, is having a positive impact on the lives of young people with autism and their families,” said David Lindsay, President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities.

“Such research, and the daily care and support of the health-care professionals educated and trained by universities, plays a major role in expanding knowledge about autism and improving the quality of life of those Ontarians affected by the disorder. Ontario’s universities are committed to partnering to improve the lives of Ontarians.”

The Autism Scholars Awards Program was established with the support of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (now the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development) to ensure that Ontario attracts and retains pre-eminent scholars studying autism.

For more information on this year’s winners, click here.

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