The mission of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaboration in Autism (CIRCA) is to support research and professional capacity-building efforts that will improve the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, their families, and the communities in which they live.
The CIRCA is focused in four priority goal areas relevant to British Columbia:
Many BC autism researchers are already associated with projects that are linked through networks such as the Autism Spectrum Disorders-Canadian American Research Consortium (ASD-CARC) and the Canadian Autism Intervention Research Network (CAIRN). The CIRCA facilitates the development of additional, interdisciplinary research and training relationships to link all sectors of the autism community within BC. Potential CIRCA activities related to this goal include development of:
- a website that links CIRCA affiliates across sectors;
- a regular, online newsletter to share BC autism research and training initiatives within the network; and
- a listserv to keep CIRCA affiliates informed of upcoming autism conferences, symposia, courses, etc.
The demand by BC students and professionals for educational programs that will enable them to qualify for or improve their credentials for the delivery of evidence-based assessments and treatment of individuals with autism is significant. UBC currently offers the only graduate training program in autism in the province, and is one of only three Canadian Universities to offer coursework leading to the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential. The CIRCA focuses on broadening the range of training opportunities that are available in BC to enhance both service provision and research capacity. CIRCA affiliates are well positioned to seek funding to expand existing programs and/or initiate new, inter-disciplinary courses related to autism. Potential CIRCA activities related to this goal include:
- the creation of partnerships in addition to those already in place (at Douglas College and Capilano University) to support undergraduate training in autism;
- the creation of partnerships between BC post-secondary institutions to expand graduate training opportunities in autism both within and outside of the Lower Mainland (e.g. between UBC and the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Northern BC); and
- the development of interdisciplinary professional courses in autism.
Research aimed at optimizing the development, health, and well-being of individuals with ASD and their families across the lifespan is critically important. The CIRCA promotes and encourages ongoing, continuous interactions between researchers, practitioners, families, individuals with ASD, and other stakeholders to both inform research efforts across life domains (home, school, community) and to encourage the use of evidence-based treatments. Potential CIRCA activities related to this goal include:
- development of an online registry for BC families interested in participating in autism research;
- development of a researcher listserv to share information about upcoming grant/funding opportunities related to autism;
- initiation and conduct of joint grant proposals and research projects by CIRCA affiliates; and
- sponsorship of international autism researchers to BC as scholars-in-residence, summer scholars, or visiting scholars.
Knowledge translation and dissemination is a critical component of any scholarly endeavour, in order for research results to be applied and utilized to improve peoples’ lives. The CIRCA facilitates research dissemination through a variety of activities that include:
- annual or biennial BC autism research conferences that are co-sponsored with CIRCA community partners;
- collaboration with existing autism training networks to co-sponsor workshops for professionals and families;
- development of online plain language webcasts to share research results; and
- sponsorship of local post-secondary symposia, colloquia, etc.