As part of its assessment on autism, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences developed an engagement process that included different opportunities for Autistic people, families and supporters including service providers, educators and organizations to provide input. 

These opportunities included:

  • Policy discussions
  • An online engagement hub
  • Community conversations 
  • Written submissions
  • National opinion surveys and focus groups

Learn more about these opportunities in French.

This input was gathered as part of an assessment on autism that is considering scientific information and also informed by the public engagement process. The assessment will help inform policy makers as they consider the development of a national autism strategy.


Policy discussions on autism

In July 2021, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences hosted four Policy Discussions on Autism. These sessions explored key issues and potential policy solutions related to social inclusion, economic inclusion, and interventions. 

  • Discussion 1: Social Inclusion
    July 19, 11:30 am – 2:00 pm ET
  • Discussion 2: Economic Inclusion
    July 19, 3:00 – 5:30 pm ET
  • Discussion 3: Interventions
    July 20, 11:30 am – 2:00 pm ET
  • Discussion 4: Overarching Issues
    July 20, 3:00 – 5:30 pm ET

These three themes – social inclusion, economic inclusion and interventions – were chosen by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The policy discussions followed a broad public consultation where Autistic individuals, family members, supporters and organizations shared a wide range of views around their needs and experiences. These sessions served as another opportunity to engage by providing input on possible strategies and approaches. 


Engagement hub

The engagement hub was open from April 7 to June 14, 2021. This website was created for Autistic people, family members, and others who support them including service providers, educators and volunteers. People could share their views and experiences by taking a survey or joining a discussion using the online chat forum. The hub let participants contribute at their own pace and was a good option for people who need assistance to participate. 

To ensure those without reliable internet access could participate in our public engagement process on autism, we created a printable questionnaire that could be mailed or emailed to CAHS. All responses had to be emailed or mailed (postmarked) by June 14, 2021.


Community conversations on autism

Between April and June, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences hosted a series of community conversations on autism. These conversations took place on Zoom and explored two key questions: How can services and programs better meet the needs of Autistic people? How can we promote inclusion of Autistic people?

Learn more about the community conversations.


Written submissions

Stakeholder organizations were invited to provide input to the assessment through a written submission. The deadline for providing a submission was May 31.


Opinion surveys and focus groups

There are also two national public opinion polls and rounds of focus groups taking place in March and July. Environics Analytics, an independent research firm, is conducting these. Environics is recruiting participants including Autistic individuals, their family members, service providers, and members of the general public.


How will the input provided during this engagement process be used? 

The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences collects information from people when they participate in this engagement process. This includes their name, email address and additional demographic information. This information is being collected for one or all of the following reasons:

  • To communicate with participants during the engagement process, usually by email
  • To help analyze and interpret the input that is shared

Personal and identifying information collected in the engagement hub and community conversations will not be shared publicly.

Researchers will compile input gathered through the engagement hub and community conversations. Compiled input will then be shared with members of the assessment team for review and analysis. Personal and identifying information for those who have provided input will not be shared with the assessment team. 

All written submissions are part of our public record. An organization’s name and primary purpose could be shared in the assessment or elsewhere.

The names and primary purpose of organizations that participate in the policy discussions are part of our public record and could be shared in the assessment or elsewhere.


How will this public engagement process inform the assessment?

The assessment on autism will consider scientific information and also be informed by the public engagement process. 

It will be based on a review of the following types of scientific and policy information:

  • Published research
  • Reports from government and organizations
  • Best practices
  • Policies (in Canada and around the world)

This assessment will also consider input collected through the following engagement mechanisms:

  • Engagement hub
  • Community conversations
  • Written submissions
  • Policy discussions
  • National opinion surveys and focus groups

Based on the above, an Oversight Panel and Working Groups will write and submit a report of findings that will inform policy makers as they consider the development of a National Strategy on Autism. Autistic adults, parents, clinicians, and researchers from a variety of fields are involved in each of these groups. For more information about the Oversight Panel and each Working Group, click below:

The final report from this assessment will be delivered to the Public Health Agency of Canada and made publicly available in early 2022.

We appreciate the contributions of individuals and stakeholder organizations to achieving this goal. Please contact us if you have questions or feedback at autism@cahs-acss.ca.