Together, we can make a difference for each child


Montreal Autism Centre

We provide clinical assessment and treatment services, conduct research on typical and atypical development, and provide student and professional training.

Our Mission

Our mission is to promote an alternative form of mental assessment that is more consistent with contemporary theory and research in infant-toddler intelligence; embed these alternative information processing procedures within a comprehensive evaluation that includes conventional testing of mental development and measures emotional, behavioural, language, motor, and social development as well as parent-child interaction; promote a development-behavioural therapeutic intervention that eliminates the disabling characteristics of autism.

Core Services

A Differential Developmental Assessment

Our assessment program is anchored in research on typical psychological development and identifies developmental areas that may go awry in autism (Zelazo, 2001).

Conventional measures of intellectual ability are confounded (confused) with the defining characteristics of ASD and yield depressed estimates of intelligence in children with ASD. Conventional tests require age appropriate language development, object use, and compliance with an examiner—three areas of deficiency in children with ASD. The information processing procedures (Zelazo, 1999a) bypass the confounds between the defining characteristics of autism and the measures traditionally used to infer mental ability to distinguish mental retardation from delays with expressive development.  

This distinction can reduce the severity of the problems to be overcome, guide treatment strategies more precisely and substantially improve the prognosis for many children. The Zelazo Information Processing Procedures correct for the obvious confounded measures before 3 ½ years of life and yield a less biased measure of intelligence. Affective, behavioural, language, and motor factors must also be assessed in children with ASD to achieve measures of developmental level in specific domains. 

An Intensive Parent-Implemented Treatment Programme

The Zelazo, Kearsley & Ungerer developmental-behavioural treatment programme is broadly described in Learning to Speak: A manual for Parents published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (2005/1984). We devise an individualised treatment plan for parents to implement at home, 5 of 7 days/week, initially during brief treatment sessions followed by systematic generalisation to the home setting. Therapy sessions are conducted each week, initially, and twice monthly, subsequently. The clinic-based meetings are used to reveal progress, update treatment goals, solve the problems confronted by parents, address behaviour management issues, and offer support and motivation.

Possible Supplementary Services

For children with intact information processing ability who have severe developmental delays, additional help may be available. Subsequent to a minimum 6 months of parent-implemented therapy, a brief intensive Centre-based program may be offered. Admissibility is reviewed case by case using clinical criteria and depends, in part, on the number of active treatment cases at a comparable level of development.

Participation requires that parents be diligrntly implementing these daily treatment sessions and generalising their gains to the home environment. In addition, regular attendance to their biweekly sessions with their therapist is mandatory.

Past examples include:

Groups for Toddlers

  • Small groups of children meeting weekly for treatment in individual and group sessions
  • Summer Camps
  • Improving Sibling Relations Camps
  • Kung Fu Class

Groups for Parents

  • Group Training can be provided during Parent-meetings, parallel to the Toddler Group or in monthly conferences.
  • Weekly or monthly meetings give parents the opportunity to observe each other in therapy sessions, share their concerns and solutions, and offer mutual support. Issues discussed often relate to the techniques of therapy, behaviour management, generalisation, school, and respite.
  • Parent-child treatment sessions may be conducted and feedback provided to improve parents’ technical skills. Parents may be paired with their own child or another parent's child. The latter often carries fewer emotional associations, allowing for a more objective perspective.

Workshops-Conferences explore relevant issues such as:

  • Communication and Developing Effective Support
  • Compliance training
  • Compliance in the natural context
  • Therapy and parenting
  • Positive parenting
  • Therapy and education
  • Play and socialisation
  • Family and socialisation
  • Normalising Expectations
  • Transitions to school

Professional Training - Seminars

We provide informational sessions and training seminars to meet the various needs of professionals from the healthcare and educational sectors.

Student Training

Various levels of training can be provided, ranging from special educational modules for readaptation and school aides to clinical post-doctoral fellowships. For example, the Group for Toddlers can serve as a field placement and provide University Psychology students with an invaluable “hands on” clinical experience. These students make a minimum one-year commitment. They receive training and close supervision using our specialised treatment procedures, and they learn the theoretical and clinical implications.

Research Opportunities

Various levels of research opportunities can be provided.