A Cross-Institutional Research on UD Autism Training for Faculty

If you are a faculty member or TA of a university and you would like to increase your knowledge of Autistic students, gain an understanding of universal design (UD) as a pedagogical tool that benefits all students, and obtain practical resources you can utilize immediately, please contact me to be added to the wait list for participation in this research. Participants will receive $50USD through PayPal in your local currency. The total time commitment including pre-test, training, post-test, and maintenance questionnaire is approximately 2-3 hours.

Under the guidance of the esteemed Dr. Kristen Gillespie-Lynch, I am excited to announce that I am the primary author of our research on Autism & Universal Design Training for Faculty. We are honoured to work with talented collaborator researchers from around the world who are accomplished in the fields of:

  • Online Learning
  • Universal Design
  • Experiences of Autistic students in higher education
  • Faculty Training
  • Camouflaging and Masking
  • Autism and Mental Health
  • Educational Leadership
  • Diagnosis and Defining Autism
  • Neurodiversity
  • Participatory Mentorship
  • The impact of Technology on Equity & Inclusion
  • Sensory processing and sensory sensitivities in autism
  • Leadership, policy, & governance in a post-secondary context as it relates to Autistic students’ outcomes in higher education

Autism Training

The following autism training was created by members of the International Society for Autism Research -INSAR’s- Autism Researchers Committee for use at INSAR international meetings and large conferences. This training is a brief introduction to autistic people, how we see ourselves, myths about autism, and how to work with us. Please cite accordingly.

Citation: Waisman, TC, Gassner, D., Gillespie-Lynch, K., Den Houting, J., Kapp, S., Nachman, B., Shore, S., Dwyer, P. (2020). Autism Training for INSAR 2020 developed by INSARs 2020 Autistic Researchers Committee.




Co-Chair of our new Autistic Researchers Committee

The International Society for Autism Research (INSAR) unanimously appointed its inaugural Autistic Researchers Committee.

While many Autistic persons and allies have been championing research informed by Autistic lives, this marks the first organized and recognized effort to directly involve Autistic researchers in contributing to the course autism research. in addressing and collaborating on autistic research and the implications for the community.  

The aims of the Autistic Researchers Committee is:

  • To better integrate autistic members into INSAR programs;
  • To foster scientific career development for autistic autism researchers;
  • To create opportunities for autistic scientists to offer their insights to allistic researchers and fellow colleagues;
  • To make INSAR conferences more accommodating and welcoming for autistic and other disabled members and participants;
  • To promote the inclusion of and consideration for issues important to autistic persons in INSAR meetings and in overall autism research across the sciences, social sciences, humanities, education, and other disciplines; and
  • To advise the INSAR Board on issues important to autistic people.

INSAR is a scientific and professional organization devoted to advancing knowledge about autism. INSAR was formed in 2001 and is governed by an elected, volunteer Board of Directors who oversee all functions of the Society. Various committees assist the Board in carrying out the mission of the Society. They are known internationally for the international conference that occurs annually, providing opportunities for researchers and stakeholders to examine the newest research, to foster connections and to network with professional from around the world.

The newly appointed members include:

BOARD LIAISON: Cheryl Dissanayake (she/her), Professor, Director & Chair, Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University (INSAR Board Liaison)

John Elder Robison (he/him), Neurodiversity Scholar in Residence, William and Mary College (Outgoing INSAR Board Liaison/Committee Advisor)

CO-CHAIR: Patrick Dwyer (he/him), PhD Student, UC Davis

CO-CHAIR: TC Waisman (she/her) EdD Student, University of Calgary

Dena L. Gassner (she/her), PhD Candidate, Adelphi University; Adjunct Faculty, Towson University; National Board Member for The Arc US

Jac den Houting (they/them), Postdoctoral Research Associate, Macquarie University

Steven Kapp (he/him), Lecturer, University of Portsmouth Brett Ranon Nachman (he/him), PhD Candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dora M. Raymaker (they/them/any), Research Assistant Professor, Portland State University / Regional Research Institute for Human Services

Stephen Mark Shore (he/him), Clinical Assistant Professor of Special Education, Adelphi University; Adjunct Professor of Occupational Therapy, New York University

Kristen Gillespie-Lynch (she/her), Associate Professor, CUNY, (Committee Advisor)

Christina Nicolaidis (she/her), Professor, Portland State University (Committee Advisor)

Story Collider podcast

Thank you Story Collider and Spectrum News for the opportunity to raise awareness about autism and late diagnosis. This podcast (also a video with a link below in a June post) allowed me to talk about my personal experience of being diagnosed at 48 years old and how that led to my doctoral research. https://www.storycollider.org/stories/2019/11/5/late-diagnosis-stories-about-being-diagnosed-as-an-adult

Research closed

Thank you to all who took part in my doctoral research. Your input has been invaluable to understanding how higher education leaders, faculty, and staff can enhance services and outcomes for autistic students in higher education in Canada. A total of 108 interviews and questionnaires were completed by autistic students, Deans, faculty, and accessibility staff across Canadian universities. The next stage is to analyze the data, categorize it, establish themes, and develop theories. Following that will be the writing of the last 3 chapters of my dissertation which will lead to the final defence of my research in 2020.

Research underway

I am currently conducting doctoral research to explore the ways in which higher education leaders, faculty, and staff can enhance services and outcomes for autistic students in higher education. This study aims to map the effectiveness of current policies and practices available to Autistic students in higher education and to identify the ways in which services and outcomes can be improved for Autistic students through a better understanding of autistic students’ needs. The research has two components, a quantitative questionnaire and qualitative interview. There are three main groups taking part in this study. The groups are as follows:

1st Group: Autistic adults diagnosed or self-diagnosed, who have attended a Canadian university. This study is limited to Canadian universities only therefore attendance at colleges or trade schools even with university level courses, is not included in this study.

2nd Group: Faculty members of universities across Canada who have recent experience teaching in a university setting. 

3rd group: Professional staff who have experience with day-to-day practices that affect autistic students in roles such as student accessibility services staff, equity & inclusion services, human rights on campus, student advocacy etc. who work or have worked in universities in Canada. If you are diagnosed or self-identify as Autistic, please let the researcher know.

4th Group: Provosts, Assistant Provosts, Deans and higher education leaders in Canada because they have a unique perspective as leaders who influence and integrate policies that affect autistic students and their educational outcomes. If you are diagnosed of self-identify as autistic, please let the researcher know.

Research is set to close on October 20th, 2019.

Doctoral Candidate

It’s official! Candidacy has been accomplished and the research has officially begun. The purpose of the study is to explore the ways in which higher education leaders, faculty, and staff can enhance services and outcomes for autistic students in Canada. This study aims to map the effectiveness of current policies and practices available to autistic students in higher education and to identify the ways in which services and outcomes can be improved for autistic students in Canada through a better understanding of autistic students’ needs.

Participants are currently being interviewed and data collection continues. I am grateful to all my research participants for their time, wisdom, and courage in speaking up and allowing their voices to make a difference.


Story Collider & Spectrum News

Doing a mic and light check before the crowds arrive

Grateful to be one of five people from around the world invited to speak in Montreal for Story Collider…’the TED Talks of science’ & Spectrum News…news and analysis of advances in autism research. We comprised of autistic individuals, autistic researchers carrying out autism research (like myself), and non-autistic scientists who have been affected by autism.

Though I speak regularly about leadership, this was my first time speaking about my personal experiences as a late-diagnosed autistic woman who is also doing research on autism for a doctoral degree. I am grateful to Story Collider and Spectrum News for this opportunity. https://www.spectrumnews.org/features/story-collider-presents-stories-spectrum/

The Science of Improvement

As part a long-term commitment to my larger community, I am honoured to be chosen to take part in a series of credited certifications to assist in improving quality, safety, and value in healthcare in my community through an approached called the Science of Improvement. Though this program is rooted in the medical environment, its application crosses organizational and leadership boundaries.

The Science of Improvement is an applied science that emphasizes innovation, rapid-cycle testing in the field, and spread in order to generate learning about what changes, in which contexts, produce improvements. It is characterized by the combination of expert subject knowledge with improvement methods and tools. It is multidisciplinary — drawing on clinical science, systems theory, psychology, statistics, and other fields.As part a long-term commitment to my larger community, I am taking part in a series of accredited certifications to assist in improving quality, safety, and value in healthcare through an approached called the Science of Improvement.

Certifications include:

  • Improvement Capability – How to improve with the Model for Improvement, Testing and measuring change with PDSA cycles, Interpreting data, Leading quality improvement, Planning for spread: Local improvements to system-wide change, Building safer more reliable systems, Quality improvement practicum
  • Patient Safety – From error to harm, human factors and safety, teamwork and communication in a culture of safety, Responding to adverse events, Root cause and system analysis, Building a culture of safety, Partnering to heal (teaming up against healthcare-associated infections,
  • Leadership – An introduction to heath care leadership
  • Person and family-centred care – Introduction to patient-centred care, Key dimensions of patient and family-centred care, Incorporating mindfulness into clinical practice, A guide to shadowing (seeing care through the eyes of patients and families), Having the conversation (basic skills for conversation about end-of-life care)
  • Triple Aim of Populations – Introduction to the triple aims of populations, Improving health equity, Increasing value and reducing waste at the point of care
  • Graduate Medical Education – Why engage trainees in quality and service? A guide to the clinical learning environment review program (CLER), The faculty role: understanding and modelling the fundamentals of quality of safety, The role of didactic learning in quality improvement, Aligning graduate medical education with organizational quality and safety goals, Faculty advisor guide to the quality improvement practicum
  • Educator’s toolkit