Melanie Couture (Alumni) - McGill University
|Award Type:||Postdoctoral Award|
|Supervisor(s):||Dr. Eric Fombonne|
|Project Title:||Impact of sensory processing and motor skills on activities of daily living in autistic children|
Melanie completed a B.Sc. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Montreal and a Master in Child Study from Concordia University. Her first research project was looking at the successful integration of children with special needs into school-age care settings. She then returned to the University of Montreal to do a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences (rehabilitation). Her doctoral study was looking at the validation of a clinical neurological exam in order to identify early, among a group of high risk children, those at greater risk of milder developmental and cognitive difficulties at school-age. The cognitive performance in relation to the neurological status established at 2 years of age was examined as well as developmental trajectory from. She was also involved as student representative on the scientific committee of the Réseau Provincial de la Recherche en Adaptation-Réadaptation (REPAR) as well as being the student representative on the Ethics committee of the Medicine Faculty of University of Montreal. Meanwhile, she also developed skills as a teacher in the undergraduate program of Occupational Therapy and the Graduate Program of Early Childhood (Petite Enfance) at the University of Montreal to 5 years of age and the stability of development to 6 years of age. Throughout her doctoral studies she also worked part-time as an occupational therapist at the specialized home care services of Ste-Justine Hospital. Melanie’s postdoctoral research will focus on sensory and motor difficulties and how they may have an impact on the children’s daily activities and functional independence. Children with autism spectrum disorder will be compared to typically developing children and to children with other developmental disabilities such as speech and language delays and mild mental retardation. Occupational therapists evaluate and treat sensory-motor problems and functional independence. However, the knowledge base and evidence for efficacy of assessment tools and interventions is still inadequate. This study will provide necessary preliminary, developmentally oriented empirical data that will guide the planning, implementation and evaluation of scientifically based interventions for children with ASD relevant to their functional independence. This will open a field for a wide spectrum of future research on early interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders. Her research interests focus on behavioral and developmental pediatrics. More specifically, on developmental assessment and developmental trajectory of high risk population. In addition, she has been sensitized to the importance of the early identification of children at high risk of developmental disabilities in order to offer support to the families and early intervention to the children. Upon completion of her CCHCSP Postdoctoral award, Dr. Couture was recruited to a faculty position at the University of Laval, in Quebec.