Defining and detecting traumatic events and symptoms in autism

One in every 58 children in British Columbia meet criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — an increasingly common developmental disorder characterized by notable social and communication difficulties. Co-occurring mental and physical health conditions are the rule, rather than the exception for those on the spectrum and associated with poorer outcomes as well as more complex and costly healthcare needs for affected families. Childhood trauma is a major risk factor for physical and mental illness that has been understudied in ASD and for which there are few evidence-based guidelines. Clinical research and practice have been limited by a lack of assessment tools designed to account for the different ways in which youth with ASD may experience and express psychological trauma.

The goal of this proposal is to address this measurement gap and therein enable the applicant to develop a unique research program focused on improving the recognition, characterization, prevention and treatment of traumatic events and symptoms in autistic youth and young adults. Stakeholder engagement and knowledge translation activities will be used throughout to guide the development of measures and to inform future research, practice, and policy.