We received the following request from Amanda Smith, MSc., PhD Student in the School and Applied Child Psychology at the University of Calgary, concerning a new project called, Elephant in the Room.

Amanda and her colleagues are interested in understanding how parents discuss a ASD diagnosis with their child.


Our new project is called the Elephant in the Room project, and came about from several requests that we have received from parents around the issue of telling their child with ASD about that diagnosis.  The parents were struggling to know when, how, if, etc. to have this discussion and were looking for some guidance.  When I went to look to see if any research has been done on this topic, I found that it is a completely ignored topic, and so want to do something about that.

In conjunction with some wonderful parents, professionals, and adolescents with ASD, we have developed three surveys (one for each of these types of individuals) to help gather information on the topic of talking to children with ASD about the diagnosis.  My hope and intent is to spread word about this project very widely, beginning with Alberta, and as many provinces as possible to get impressions on regional differences.  We also have some contacts in the United States, England, New Zealand, and Australia, and are looking to go there as well.  What we (myself, Dr. Adam McCrimmon, and Sarah Cadogan – my supervisor and another colleague) want to do is examine the responses and information that parents, professionals, and individuals with ASD provide to produce a document with advice and guidance on this issue from the perspectives of these informants that can then be provided to parents and professionals who are exploring this decision in their personal or professional lives.

The information, including the links to the surveys, can be found on our website at: http://www.ucalgary.ca/asert/Discussion

If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to ask or else have parents phone or email.  I will be happy to respond! Thank you for any help that you may be able to provide in support of this initiative!

Amanda D. Smith, MSc., PhD Student
Doctoral UCAPES Clinician
School and Applied Child Psychology
University of Calgary
(403) 210-6578 (ext. 3)

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