Current Team Members

Adam

Dr. Adam McCrimmon

Dr. Adam McCrimmon is an Associate Professor in the School and Applied Child Psychology program in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary.  He is a Registered Psychologist with over 20 years' experience working with children, adolescents, and adults with autism spectrum disorder.  His current research focuses include diagnostic experience, developmental outcome, cognitive development, and resiliency in this population.  He is an Independent Trainer on both the ADOS-2 and the ADI-R and conducts trainings on these measures.

Ashley

Ashleigh Yule

Ashleigh Yule is a Registered Psychologist and a PhD student in the School/Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary. She completed her Master’s degree in School/Applied Child Psychology at McGill University. Her research interests include early intervention, educational strategies, and behavioural supports for children with ASD and their families. Ashleigh is the recipient of a Canadian Graduate Scholarship and a Doctoral Fellowship through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Ashleigh works in private practice providing psychological services for children with diverse needs and their families. Ashleigh is a member of the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health (CPATH) and is involved with Camp fYrefly, a leadership camp for sexual and gender minority youth. She has three children who love to teach their mommy all about child development!

Taylor

Taylor Schembri

Taylor is a registered provisional psychologist with the College of Alberta Psychologists.  She completed her Master's degree at the University of Calgary where she investigated the barriers to success for post-secondary students on the autism spectrum.  Taylor is currently in the third year of her doctoral degree in the Counselling Psychology program where she is investigating the experience of and meaning associated with receiving an autism diagnosis later in life.  Taylor is also the recipient of a Doctoral Fellowship through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).  Currently, Taylor works part-time at a private practice location where she offers individual counselling therapy to children and adults across a wide variety of concerns.  

Shawna

Shawna Gray

Shawna is a 2nd year doctoral student in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary. She completed her undergraduate degree at St. Mary’s University, Calgary in 2016. For her undergraduate thesis work, she studied the impact of art therapy on university students. Shawna has carried a passion for working with children for many years and her interest in developmental disabilities has grown. She has a special interest in working with children who have ASD and their families. For her graduate school thesis, she intends to explore the impact of disclosure of an ASD diagnosis to the siblings of the child who has ASD. Shawna loves animals and horseback riding. She has trained her rescue horse to jump and is currently helping to train a 3-year-old horse. Shawna loves to hang out with her two nephews (3 and 1 years of age). She enjoys being outside and goes hiking as often as possible during the warmer months.

Andrea

Andrea Rodgers

Andrea is a registered provisional psychologist with the College of Alberta Psychologists. She completed her MSc degree at the University of Calgary, where her research examined the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS) looking at its efficacy and relation to emotional intelligence. Currently, Andrea works a school psychologist in a specialized elementary school and is the clinical coordinator/facilitator of the PEERS program for the ASERT lab. In her spare time, Andrea loves hiking, snowshoeing, dance classes and spending time with family and friends. 

Erin Kapler

Rachel

Rachel Pagaling

Rachel is currently an MSc student in School and Applied Child Psychology at the University of Calgary. Rachel graduated from Mount Royal University in 2016, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Art History. During her year off after graduation, she worked as an Educational Assistant for Calgary Board of Education and as a speech and behavioural aide for Connecting Dots assisting children with disabilities and neurodevelopmental disorders. Rachel is passionate about research and clinical practice with children and youth and has a special interest in working with families with children with ASD. Rachel’s research interests involve children and youth with ASD and exploring learning strategists perspectives in providing support to educators and students with ASD. Rachel is excited to be part of the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Social Skills for Preschoolers (P4P) coming up in the new year. In her spare time, she loves going on nature walks, baking, and playing with her cat.

Justin

Justin McLeod

Justin is a 1st year master’s student in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary. He graduated with a B.A. (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Calgary, where he researched affective forecasting in romantic relationships and how depressive symptoms may cause forecasting errors. Justin has a large volunteer history, undertaking numerous research assistant positions, working at the Calgary Distress Centre as a crisis counsellor and coaching senior football at Aberhart High School. Further, Justin is currently employed by The Alberta Children’s Hospital working in the Mental Health Patient Care Unit and is also a behavioural coach for the Adolescent Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS). Justin’s current research is concerned with cognitive assessments in special populations like Autism Spectrum Disorder. Outside of school and work, Justin dedicates energy to his plant collection, biking, skiing and spending time with his friends.

Abdullah

Abdullah Bernier

Abdullah is in his 1st year as a Master of Science student in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Calgary, where he researched the relations between social-emotional development and cognitive development in emerging adulthood for his honours-equivalent project. Abdullah has volunteered as a Crisis Counsellor with Kids Help Phone and is dedicated to working with children with developmental disabilities. Throughout his work experience, Abdullah has developed a passion and interest toward working with individuals with ASD. For his Master’s program, Abdullah will be investigating the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS) for preschool aged children, which is novel to the Canadian context. He intends to examine the relations between social skills, parent-child interactions, and parental stress. Outside of school and work, some of Abdullah’s interests include slam poetry, documentaries, and playing board games. He enjoys rock-climbing, exercising, writing, and fishing.

Cecilia

Cecilia Ye

Cecilia is an MSc student in the Counselling Psychology program at the University of Calgary. She graduated in 2017 with a BA in Psychology. During her time as an Undergraduate student (and then some), she was able to explore different areas of research from Microbiology labs to Neuroscience to various psychology labs looking at cognition and emotion. Finally, from her early experience at the ASERT lab volunteering as a transcriptionist, she realized this was the area of research she wanted to focus on. Coupled with her experience working with the Autism Asperger’s Friendship Society (AAFS) and FSCD private home services from the young age of 18, she found her calling assisting children and families with disabilities. Cecilia’s research interests include critical assessment-taking, effects and implications of diagnosing, early intervention and effectiveness of interventions as well as individual and multi-cultural familial adjustments of having a diagnosed family member. In her spare time, she is a passionate dog-mom, Latin dancer, a fan of WoW and DnD and a self-proclaimed wine and food non-expert expert.

Past Team Members

Ryan

Dr. Ryan Matchullis

Ryan completed his Ph.D. in School and Applied Child Psychology at the University of Calgary in 2017. After graduating from Ambrose University College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Behavioural Science, he operated a painting business for 2 years before heading back to pursue his education. For his Master's thesis, he explored the relationship between specific executive functions (e.g., inhibition) and social skills children with high functioning autism spectrum disorder. For his PhD dissertation, Ryan ran a detailed program evaluation on the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS), a manualized intervention for teens 13-18 with ASD designed to help teach strong social and peer relationship skills. His focus centered on understanding potential improvements in behavioural regulation, mental health, and the contribution of family factors (e.g., attachment, communication style) to gains made throughout the intervention. Ryan was also honoured to be supported by the Alberta Children's Hospital's Research Institute (ACHRI) for Child and Maternal Health as a trainee for the 2013-2015 period.

Alyssa

Dr. Alyssa Altomare

Alyssa completed her PhD in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary. She was a CIHR Strategic Training Fellow in Autism Research (Autism Research Training Program), and the recipient of a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Alyssa's dissertation research involved investigating peer victimization, coping strategies, and mental health in children and adolescents with ASD. Alyssa also ran a chess and board games club for adolescents and young adults with ASD, and enjoyed helping out with PEERS!

Amanda

Dr. Amanda Smith-Demers

Amanda completed her PhD in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary. After completing her BA in Psychology at the University of Lethbridge & Southern Cross University in Australia, she worked on a project at Mount Royal University studying the quality of life of adults with developmental disabilities and their families. She also began working at the Society for Treatment of Autism in 2008. For her Master's thesis, she explored vocational and independence training for adolescents and adults with ASD at the Child Development Center. Her dissertation research focused on the parental experiences surrounding the disclosure process of ASD. Many families struggle with decisions pertaining to when, how, and if their child or adolescent with ASD should be informed about their diagnosis.  Amanda focused on the lived experience surrounding the decision making process that parents encounter when deciding if, how, and when to tell their child about their ASD diagnosis. In her spare time, Amanda also enjoys playing percussion instruments, soccer, kayaking, rollerblading and yoga! 

Cameron

Cameron Pepperdine

Cameron completed his MSc in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary. In 2015, he graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons.) degree in Psychology, also at the University of Calgary. He has previous experience working with toddlers who have ASD as part of the BabySibs Study.  For his Honours thesis, he looked at components of infant speech development. Cameron's MSc thesis research focused on enhancing the strengths of children and youth with developmental disabilities. Outside of school, Cameron enjoys dirt-biking, hiking in the mountains, anything related to Star Wars, and playing video games.

Nick

Nicholas Hendrickson

Nicholas completed his MSc in the School & Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary. In 2016, he graduated from the University of Calgary with a BA majoring in both Psychology and Linguistics. During his time as an adolescent and undergraduate student, he gained experience working with children with various developmental disabilities. Throughout his academic studies he has developed a keen interest in working with individuals with ASD. During Nicholas’ first year of his master’s program, he acted as a behavioural coach for the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS). He then went on to serve as a coordinator and facilitator for the PEERS program and conduct research on the relation between executive functioning and success within PEERS. Outside of school and work, Nicholas enjoys exercising, reading, and understanding current trends in technology.

Stephany

Stephany Huynh

Stephany completed her M.Sc. in the School & Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary.  She completed her B.Sc. (Hons) in Psychology at the University of Manitoba (UofM).  For her undergraduate thesis, she evaluated the validity of the KADI and GADS, two third-party rating forms used to screen adults with Asperger’s Syndrome.  While completing her honours project, Stephany worked at the Cognitive Development Lab, Social Cognition Lab, and St. Amant Research Centre at the UofM in various capacities.  Upon graduation, Stephany volunteered at a summer camp for children with ASD, which inspired her to pursue research in the area of autism.  Her Master’s thesis captured the perspectives of individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome on the changing nature of the disorder based on the diagnostic changes of the DSM-5.  Stephany was the EDSA representative for the SACP, and a member of the Graduate Programs in Education Students’ Association (GPESA) committee.  She also volunteered with the ADHD Strengths Lab and worked with a multidisciplinary home-based team in supporting families with autism.

Melanie

Melanie Fenwick

Melanie completed her M.Sc. in School and Applied Child Psychology at the University of Calgary. After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at McGill University, Melanie spent four years working in multiple research and clinical settings with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families. For her Master’s thesis, she examined social cognition and social abilities as risk factors for bullying in students with high functioning ASD (HFASD).

Laura

Laura Purdon (McCarthy)

Laura completed her M.Sc. in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary. She graduated with a B.Sc. in Psychology from the University of Toronto. Laura is passionate about working with individuals with developmental disabilities and their families and has a special interest in ASD and mental health. After graduation, she worked at the Hospital for Sick Children as a Clinical Research Assistant investigating a social skills group for children recovering from a brain tumor. She also worked at the Geneva Centre for Autism assisting children and adolescents with ASD participate in community and recreational activities. Laura conducted research on the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS), looking at its efficacy.

Keely

Keely Murphy

Keely completed her M.Sc. in the School & Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary. In 2014, she graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in psychology from Saint Francis Xavier University. Throughout her years as an undergrad, she volunteered regularly with the Best Buddies organization and also in the special care unit of the Bethany center. Keely also worked for the Nova Scotia Department of Education as a French language monitor helping youth develop and enhance their second language skills. More recently, through her involvement as a behavioural coach in the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS), Keely quickly developed a passion for working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder and a keen interest in the area of autism research. She facilitated and conducted research on the efficacy of PEERS for teens with autism spectrum disorder.

Marian

Marian Coret

Marian completed her M.Sc. in the School and Applied Child Psychology at the University of Calgary. She graduated with a B.Sc. in Specialization Psychology from the University of Alberta. Her thesis examined the efficacy of the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills for Young Adults with ASD (PEERS-YA). She currently attends medical school at the University of Calgary.

Patricia

Patricia Azarkham

Patricia completed her M.Sc. in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary. She completed her Honours BA in Psychology and French at York University. For her Undergraduate Honours thesis she worked on a project for the Interprofessional Education of Faculty of Health students where she examined Undergraduate students’ attitudes towards Developmental Disabilities. For her Master’s thesis, Patricia facilitated and examined the effectiveness of an evidence-based social skills intervention for young adults with ASD (PEERS-YA).  She currently works in the community in Toronto.

Sarah

Sarah Cadogan

Sarah completed her MSc in School and Applied Child Psychology at the University of Calgary.  She completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Limerick (Ireland). Her undergraduate thesis examined positivity biases associated with autobiographical memory. She is currently employed in the community providing psychological services to children and families.

Melissa

Melissa Soares

Melissa completed her MSc in School and Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary. She completed her Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) degree in Psychology at the University of Manitoba. For her undergraduate thesis, she investigated whether a functional relation existed between the discrimination skills required to comply with an instructional demand and escape-maintained problem behaviours in children with autism. Melissa’s MSc thesis involved investigating the effectiveness of the Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills (PEERS), an evidence-based social skills intervention, on decreasing the social anxiety and depression symptoms of adolescents with high functioning ASD. Melissa has specific training in Applied Behaviour Analysis and, for the past eleven years, she has worked with children and adults with autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilitis, and pervasive behavioural disorders in several different capacities.

Katia

Katia Jitlina

Katia completed her masters degree in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at the University of Calgary.  She returned to UBC to complete her doctoral work, where she completed her B.Sc. in psychology.  She was involved with a research team that studied the developmental trajectories of children born preterm. For her master's thesis, she is interested in learning about the relationship between repetitive behaviours and specific cognitive abilities in children with Asperger's syndrome.

Ari

Ari Heath Bent

Ari completed his B.Ed. in the faculty of education. His focus for this program is special education.  He completed his first B.A. in East Asia History at the University of California at Santa Cruz.  He also holds a M.Ed. in education administration from Grand Canyon University.  After graduating from UC Santa Cruz, he taught English in Korea for six years.  During his first year at the University of Calgary, Ari was awarded the Program for Undergraduate Research Education (PURE) Award.  For the PURE Award, Ari worked with the ASERT team and investigated the relation between resilience and emotional intelligence to social outcomes in children with high functioning autism spectrum disorders.