Speaker: Prof. Meng-Chuan Lai
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
Title: Towards environmental adjustment for social communication with autistic individuals
Autism has historically been viewed as a medical condition that requires intervention targeting at the diagnosed individual to develop their social-communication skills. With increasing appreciation of neurodiversity (i.e., the variety of different minds and brains found throughout the human population), especially the awareness that the disabilities experienced by autistic individuals have substantial contextual-social origins, it becomes apparent that the neurotypical-majority environment and the neurotypical population can also be the intervention targets to enhance the social well-being of both autistic and neurotypical people. In this brain-storming session I will introduce relevant conceptual and intervention evolution and propose potential directions for environment-focused approaches, with the aim to facilitate idea exchange for designing and applying engineering methods to enhance the social well-being of autistic people.
Dr. Meng-Chuan Lai is a staff psychiatrist and senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto. He is an Associate Professor and Co-Chair, Advisory Council for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Indigeneity and Accessibility in Clinical Care in the Department of Psychiatry, and Graduate Faculty at the Institute of Medical Science and Department of Psychology, University of Toronto. He is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, and an Adjunct Associate Professor and Attending Psychiatrist at the National Taiwan University Hospital. He is an INSAR Fellow and an editor of the journals Autism and Molecular Autism. As a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Sex and Gender Science Chair, Dr. Lai’s work focuses on how sex- and gender-related factors act as modulating mechanisms for the presentation and adaptation, clinical recognition, neurobiology, and etiologies of neurodevelopmental and co-occurring mental health conditions.