Equitable healthcare for autistic individuals

Recipients of the Transforming Autism Care Consortium Partners for Change funding program aim to improve healthcare services for autistic minority-language speakers across Canada

Minority-language speakers in Canada face several healthcare disparities. These occur in accessing and receiving healthcare services compared to those who speak a majority language in their province. However, we know little about the barriers faced by minority-language speakers on the autism spectrum.

Addressing recognized community needs, together

To investigate, a partnership was formed drawing on strengths from community representatives and researchers. A team co-led by postdoctoral researcher Myriam Beauchamp and neuropsychologist Julie Scorah of the Azrieli Centre for Autism Research at The Neuro, McGill University, and in partnership with Jonathan Lai, Executive Director of Autism Alliance of Canada (previously known as the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorders Alliance), will address two main questions:

  • Do autistic individuals who are minority-language speakers experience barriers in accessing healthcare services?
  • Is there a difference in the quality of the healthcare services they receive?

Partners include the Autism Alliance of Canada, researchers from McGill and Dalhousie University, caregivers, autistic adults, and clinicians. All are minority-language speakers or work with autistic individuals who are minority-language speakers.

For the purposes of this project, minority-language speakers are defined as someone who speaks a language other than the majority language in that area. As a cross-Canada initiative, what constitutes a minority-language speaker will differ based on the individual’s location.

Informing decision-makers and increasing equity in healthcare

“Our findings will potentially lead to concrete improvements in the ability of people on the spectrum who are minority-language speakers to access and receive healthcare services that are equitable.”

The aim is to share the lived experiences of autistic individuals through focus groups. These will include caregivers and autistic adults who are all minority-language speakers. Other stakeholders including clinicians, administrators, and community groups who work closely with people on the spectrum who are minority-language speakers will also take part.

The project’s findings will inform decision-makers about the barriers to accessing healthcare and help increase equity in the healthcare system between majority and minority-language speakers across Canada.

Partners for change

Beauchamp, Scorah, and Lai have been awarded $20,000 in funding for a period of 1 year by Partners for Change, a funding program led by the Transforming Autism Care Consortium (TACC).

The program aims to foster and support partnerships between researchers and experts in other sectors (e.g., health, education, arts, industry, and policy) that address recognized community needs and have the potential to improve quality of life for autistic people or people with related conditions, and their families.

Projects are guided by priorities identified by the community; inclusive of diverse perspectives; and aim to directly benefit individuals, families, and the broader community.

To learn more about all of the 2022 Partner for Change projects, visit the TACC website.

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The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.




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