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Study Opportunity | Family Check Up ®, in the Autism Program at McMaster Children’s Hospital.

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Who is eligible for this study?

  • Child with a confirmed ASD diagnosis experiencing emotional/behavioral problems (e.g. anxiety, hyperactivity, challenging behavior)

  • Age: 6 yrs-17 yrs. (i.e. still eligible if 17 years 11 months, 29 days by visit #1)

  • Family must be enrolled in OAP or on waitlist (i.e. have email confirmation re: wait list)

  • Caregiver English proficiency sufficient to complete questionnaires

  • Ability to come to Ron Joyce to complete study visits (families can be from anywhere as long as they are willing to come in for the study visit—there is no geographical catchment)

  • Child resides with same parent at least 5 days/week OR every other week for the past 2 months and foreseeable future.

For any further questions the study coordinator Julie Gross can be reached at and she can also be reached at 905-525-9140 Ext. 27066.

What is the Family Check-Up and how is it different from other parenting interventions?

When parents and families are supported, children cope better with emotional and behavioral problems but many families who are experiencing high levels of adversity and challenging behavior can find it hard to attend the typical 12 session group-based interventions.

The Family Check-Up is different because it is brief, tailored and targeted—only the skills relevant to the family's needs and goals are taught; practical help is also given to help in linking to services that align with the family's goals (services can be anywhere—in the community, within the medical system, etc.)

How does the Family Check-Up provide this brief, targeted support?

  • The Family Check-Up begins with a careful assessment of needs and strengths (specifically with respect those day-to-day practices that support positive family interaction)

  • Caregivers receive detailed feedback from this assessment

  • Discussion about the family's goals and priorities then takes place and an action plan is collaboratively created with the goal of leveraging child and family strengths to address needs

  • If appropriate, relevant family management skills are taught using the Everyday Parenting curriculum (Dishion, Stormshak, Kavanagh) which is based on over 30 years of evidence-based research

  • The Family Check-Up therapist can also help the family connect to other services that will support them in achieving their goals.

  • More detail is available by watching the video at this link which describes the large Canadian implementation study of the Family Check-Up.

This larger study was completed by Dr. Bennett last year for 2-4 year olds with emotional and behavioural problems (with a range of diagnoses not just ASD):

Is the Family Check-Up suitable for families who have a child with ASD?

  • Yes! The intervention is transdiagnostic. Plus, after completing the study for 2-4 year olds, Dr. Bennett next completed a pilot study of its use specifically for families who have a child with ASD. See this link for a story of the pilot study that informed how our current study is delivered:

  • The feedback we received from the ASD pilot study was used to adjust how the Family Check-Up is delivered to make it more "autism friendly"

  • The current study using the ASD-adapted Family Check-Up is for a larger group of autistic children and their caregivers, and covers a broader age range

How is the study designed?

  • All families come to Ron Joyce for 5 study visits (gift cards--$170.00 total across the 5 visits--are provided to thank parents for their time, and $40.00 in gift cards is provided to the children to thank them for their time)

  • Half of the families will get the Family Check-Up right away

  • The other half (control group) get treatment as usual (connected to a service navigator) and can receive the Family Check-Up when the study ends (i.e. after 12 months), if they wish to do so

Who delivers the Family Check-Up intervention in this study?

  • 4 ABA trained autism therapists who are also credentialled in the Family Check-Up will deliver the Family Check-Up

  • the intervention itself can be delivered virtually

What if the person is receiving some other family-focused supports?

  • Receipt of other family focused supports and services does not preclude families from participating in this study (only being part of another research study would exclude)

We want to understand how this intervention operates when families are naturally pursuing typical treatments and services.

For any further questions the study coordinator Julie Gross can be reached at and she can also be reached at 905-525-9140 Ext. 27066.


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