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Carleton researchers in the School of Linguistics and Language Studies are looking for autistic post-secondary students and/or autistic or non-autistic instructors to share their perspectives and participate in a study on the effects of COVID-19 on the academic and social experiences of autistic university students.


There have been considerable changes in post-secondary environments due to COVID-19. As a result, students have had to rapidly adjust to new online modes of academic instruction and unexpected isolation measures.

This project, led by Dr. Natasha Artemeva and Jacquie Ballantine, seeks to understand how COVID-19 related changes are affecting the experiences of autistic students. Specifically, the research aims to the mitigate the academic and social challenges faced by autistic students as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the ultimate goal of supporting and retaining autistic students under rapidly changing conditions.

The researchers aim to adopt a community-based participatory research approach in order to properly understand, honor and incorporate into the research the lived experiences of autistic students as well as autistic and non-autistic instructors.

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic related changes on autistic university students have not yet been investigated. We intend to address this research gap in order to provide recommendations for academic and social supports for these students at the time of the global pandemic. We see this research as a partnership; it has been designed to listen and respond to the autistic community’s call for participatory research: ‘nothing about us, without us!'”

Jacquie Ballantine, Carleton University PhD candidate

We Have…

We have completed a pilot study on autistic students’ reported experiences of their social and learning interactions with non-autistic and autistic peers and instructors at university.

Our team is led by Professor Artemeva, an internationally-recognized author and researcher interested in different genres of communication (including all modalities) in various contexts in life. The co-principal investigator, PhD candidate Jacquie Ballantine, is a retired speech-language clinician with more than 25 years of experience working with autistic individuals and their families.

We are dedicated to producing participatory research where autistic community members are equal partners in the research and their perspectives and values drive all aspects of the research process.

We are currently partnered with Autism MQ, a participatory research team with both autistic and non-autistic researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.

We Need…

We are looking for research participants from the populations that this study represents (autistic students and autistic and non-autistic university instructors) who can share their experience-based expertise and perspectives regarding coping during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as more general reports of autistic students’ social and learning interactions with autistic and non-autistic instructors.

We are currently seeking participants for the interview phase of the research (two 1-hour interviews conducted virtually). We will use the valuable input and guidance of these individuals to develop a survey to be administered to autistic university students in Canada and abroad.

Study participant eligibility requirements: autistic students and university instructors.

The Impact

We hope that by better understanding the unique academic and social experiences reported by autistic students during this time, we will be able to develop resources and support models that will help autistic students thrive during times of change and the indeterminate future.

Carleton University
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Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6
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