Effective treatments bring hope to children with neurodisabilities and their families.
Researchers at Kids Brain Health Network are creating and evaluating new treatment programs, with the goal of increasing the number of evidence based options available across Canada.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Kids Brain Health has funded autism intervention research to treat children from toddlerhood to the teen years.
In our Social ABC’s project, parents deliver the intervention through daily activities with their children under the age of three, to encourage development of social communication skills.
Secret Agents Society – Operation Regulation Cadets helps children aged 8-12 learn to improve their emotional regulation abilities, while MYmind is a mindfulness-based intervention for teens with ASD—and their parents, geared toward providing both with strategies for managing anxiety and stressful situations with heightened awareness.
Cerebral Palsy (CP)
New interventions may hold the key to reversing brain damage in children with Cerebral Palsy. In Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) the stronger limb is immobilized, forcing the patient to use the weaker limb, and hopefully improving its function. Our researchers are exploring the biology behind CIMT, to find out whether it activates brain cells with the potential to help regenerate the brain, and whether targeted drug therapies help to stimulate this process as well. We have also explored the therapeutic potential of stem cell transplants in mice, opening the door to evaluating whether stem cells can also boost regeneration in the brain.
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
Parents of children with FASD are finding support through the Strongest Families FASD program, which teaches parents and builds their skills through a series of online modules and the help of supportive coaches. Parents can focus on a particular behavioural challenge, or on improving their own approach to managing the behaviour. Strongest Families coaches help parents to implement these new skills in their daily lives. An adapted version of the program for First Nations families is being developed, helping to bridge service barriers in remote communities.
Children with neurodisabilities often have significant trouble with coordination and/or muscle tone. Empowering Steps Movement Therapy (ESMT) is a structured training and treatment program using gymnastic-based movements to build physical capacity. Specially trained coaches work one-on-one with children and youth to practice individualized programs. Our researchers are developing a framework for evaluating recreational therapies to better understand how physical activity programs opportunities for children with neurodisabilities can improve quality of life, and translate their findings to national, provincial and community-based programs.
More than 90% of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities also have sleep issues. Our Better Nights Better Days team is customizing a successful treatment program for behavioural insomnia in typically developing children, in preparation for evaluating its effectiveness for children with FASD, autism and ADHD.