FASS News, Research

Cross-disciplinary support for individuals with autism

March 29, 2022

Simon Fraser University (SFU) researchers have teamed up across disciplines to better understand and support children, youth and adults on the autism spectrum.

SFU Education Professor Elina Birmingham is the director of the Autism Education Lab (AEL). She works closely with SFU Psychology Professor and clinical psychologist Grace Iarocci who leads the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Lab (ADDL). They are part of a growing group of scholars committed to incorporating the voices of autistic individuals into the research process. Along with their respective teams, they are dedicated to maximizing the quality of life for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and developmental disabilities through education and community outreach.

Birmingham and Iarocci recently authored the study, Action coordination during a real-world task: Evidence from children with and without autism spectrum disorder. Their work focused on joint action coordination in children with and without autism.

Autism is characterized in part by difficulties in social understanding, involving  both communication and social-emotional reciprocity. This would mean that autistic children would perform differently than non-autistic children in tasks that required joint action, something that has never been explicitly studied—until now.