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Here is some information to frequently asked questions about our studies from parents:

1. What will I learn about my child? 

As most parents know, individuals with Autism have a broad range of abilities and every child is different.  The researchers will do their best to educate parents on how some children with Autism may be different and how there are still many things that we do not know about children with Autism.  For example, the various types of social challenges that different people on the spectrum experience and how this is related to their emotional well-being. For ethical reasons, we are not allowed to disclose individual results or test scores derived from the study.  As much as we would like to give individual feedback, we cannot because we must follow the University Ethics Board. However, once the study is finished we do send parents a summary of the results so that you can benefit from the information we have learned.

2. How will we get the results of the study? 

We put a summary of the results in our annual newsletter which is emailed or mailed out to families.  We also put all publications based on previous research on our website, under a tab called “Publications”. Typically parents would have to have access to an academic database or pay to view these publications; however, we put a copy of all our articles for free on our website. We believe it is important for parents to have easy access to all information collected through research.  Please note that these studies may take multiple years to complete because data analysis can be a lengthy process. Also, it is challenging to find individuals that meet our specific research criteria so please be sure to let other families know about our studies.  The more participants we have, the faster we are able to provide families the results of the study!

3. Why is this knowledge needed? Can it help parents use better strategies in dealing with their children? 

We still have a lot to learn about Autism.  Further research is needed to provide more information on the specific challenges children with Autism and their families face to help develop more effective interventions.  Inventions also include strategies that can be taught to parents in the future. For example, research on facial processing, similar to one of our current studies, has contributed to the development of computer based interventions including Dr. Jim Tanaka’s “Let’s Face It!” program at the Univeristy of Victoria.  This program is a series of engaging computer games designed to improve face recognition abilities and parents can download these games for free on Dr. Tanaka’s website. For a link to the website click here.  In our lab, some studies are being run by graduate students who are in training to become clinical professionals. Many of our students are former or current ABA therapist actively working with families. These students are being trained to be effective clinicians who can use the latest research information on how children with autism develop and learn differently and incorporate this knowledge into specific strategies that teachers and parents can use with their children. They have a vast knowledge of all childhood disorders but also very specific training on best practices for working with children with Autism.

4. How will researchers translate the knowledge from the study into better strategies?

The results from any one particular study do not always provide the answer for a particular child in a clinical or educational context.  However, over time several related studies may reveal important information about how to best meet the needs of specific children or groups of children.  Our researchers are trained to appropriately interpret research information and translate this for the public in ways that will help make the relevant links between research and practice more apparent to people with autism and their families. Our lab is involved in several initiatives to share research information to, parents, professionals and the public at large through seminars and workshops.  We are partners with  Autism Community Training (ACT) and we have recently provided Autism awareness presentations to the SFU Science Alive camps with children ranging in age from 7- 13 .  

5. What kind of compensation can I expect if my child participates in research? 

For ethical reasons, we can only provide minor compensation to our participants. As a token of our appreciation for volunteering your time to research, our lab covers the cost of parking on campus in addition to compensation based on the amount of time spent completing the study and where the study takes place. For studies that take place on SFU campus, compensation is dependant on the study, but may include monetary compensation, gift cards to Chapters or Amazon, or movie tickets. For studies that take place online, we offer vouchers for iTunes, pre-paid Visa gift cards, and Amazon gift cards.