Centre for Applied Disability Studies
Phone: 905-688-5550, ext. 5778
Prof. Rebecca Ward is the Clinical Coordinator for CADS and is responsible for teaching the Practicum Placement course (5P20) and for coordinating that course and other student clinical experiences, such as research projects and internships. Dr. Ward has 30 years of clinical experience in the assessment and treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders and developmental/learning disabilities. She has been a registered psychologist in Ontario since 1995.
Dr. Ward's areas of research interest include the following and may be of interest to both students looking for MA thesis topics or Research Project topics.
1. Prospective Study of Infants At-risk for Autism. As a co-investigator with Jeannette Holden, a pre-eminent Queen's University geneticist, and Maurice Feldman, CADS program director, through joint interdisciplinary research funded through CIHR (www.asdcarc.ca), we are investigating developmental outcomes for infant siblings of children who have diagnoses of autism. CADS students may get involved in a study comparing the prevalence of early signs of autism in these infants at increased risk for ASD to those infants who do not have an older sibling with autism. As well, students may participate in the development and implementation of very early intervention for those infants at-risk who are showing signs of ASD before the age of two years.
2. International Development of ABA. CADS faculty have an interest in making Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) services available to more families of children and adults with disabilities in Canada and beyond. Dr. Ward's research in this area is currently focused on surveying existing behavioural service providers in countries where there may be less access to ABA and to assess the perceived need. The intent is to build on a model of parent training developed in Ireland by Dr. Korola Dillenburger, Queens University, and Mickey Keenan, University of Ulster, which provides a parent training kit (manual, instructional DVDs and a workbook) to families of all newly diagnosed children with autism, along with distance support. In collaboration with these researchers and community partners (e.g., Autism Ontario), CADS students may participate in the evaluation of this model for parent training for families in Ontario and abroad.
3. Social Thinking to Social Skills. Following in the clinical work of Michelle Garcia Winner (www.socialthinking.com), this new area of research will focus on the teaching of "social thinking" and its generalization to social skills in daily living for children and adolescents with high functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger's Disorder (AD). CADS students may participate in research to evaluate this model of social intervention and look at methods for integrating behavioural teaching strategies into teaching of social thinking to promote social skill acquisition and generalization.
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