Event Details

PHO Webinar: Working with Neurodivergent Families: A Strength-based Approach

“Neurodiversity” means that children’s and adult’s brains develop and function in meaningfully variable ways across populations. Neurodivergent people self-identify as having different ways of thinking, feeling and responding to their worlds compared to typically developing people, often related to specific profiles that include autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and intellectual disability. In this session, presenters will provide a brief overview of more common neurodevelopmental profiles and discuss their clinical, research and quality improvement work with neurodivergent caregivers and children. They will then describe how this has informed their adaptation of a strength-based, tailored family support model and enriched their understanding of the joys and challenges of parenting.

Intended audience: Public health nurses and family home visitors working in Healthy Babies Healthy Children or Nurse-Family Partnership; community-based professionals working with pregnant individuals or families with infants or young children.

By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize neurodevelopmental profiles related to autism, ADHD and intellectual disability as they relate to caregivers and parents
  • Develop an approach to discussing neurodevelopmental strengths and challenges with caregivers/parents as they relate to supporting their young child’s mental health and development
  • Review qualitative research themes and clinical interview findings in which neurodivergent caregivers provide perspectives and preferences for provision of care
  • Plan how to tailor parenting and family management support for neurodivergent caregivers and children using a strength-based neurodiversity lens

Presenter(s): Dr. Teresa (Terry) Bennett, Dr. Natalie Raso, Dr. Mackenzie Salt

Dr. Terry Bennett, MD, FRCPC, PhD, and Dr. Natalie Raso, MPP, MD, FRCPC, are Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists at McMaster Children’s Hospital. Dr. Bennett is a researcher with the Offord Centre for Child Studies and the McMaster Autism Research Team (MacART) at McMaster University. Dr. Raso specializes in inpatient and medical psychiatry and clinical quality improvement. They share an interest in family-centered care and the mental health of neurodivergent children.

Dr. Mackenzie Salt, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow at the Offord Centre for Child Studies and the Autism Alliance of Canada. He is an autistic autism researcher and is finalizing work on the Canadian Autistic Adult Needs Assessment Survey involving over 1900 respondents across Canada age 30+ years.


The opinions expressed by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies or views of Public Health Ontario, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by Public Health Ontario.




Public Health Ontario is committed to complying with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If you require accommodations to participate in this event, please contact 647-260-7100 or capacitybuilding@oahpp.ca.

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Capacity Building


Updated 7 Feb 2024