The York University Children’s Learning Projects Lab is headed by Dr. James Bebko who is a psychologist at York University. He conducts research into questions about children with autism, developmental disabilities, sensory problems (deafness), and typical development. Current and past research with these groups has involved: how children with autism attend to and make sense of information coming from different sensory systems (e.g., visual and auditory); what happens in the very earliest stages (first half-second) of information processing in these groups; how children with autism come to understand the symbolic nature of pictures and other impairments, such as evaluating appropriate assessment measures, as well as evaluating the impact of community programs.
Melissa Ferland is a third year PhD student in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology program at York University. She completed her Master’s at York University in 2017 and her B.Sc. at McGill University in Montreal in 2015. Her research interests stem from the combination of her previous work on the cognitive development of infants and the development and assessment of an integration program for adults with high function Autism Spectrum Disorder. Melissa is primarily concerned with improving education policies for individuals with ASD, and to do so is interested in studying learning abilities within this population. Her dissertation revolves around evaluating and adapting a program to teach children with ASD inhibition skills, with the hope that the program can easily be implemented in schools and health care centers.
Alex Porthukaran is a first-year PhD student in the Clinical- Developmental psychology program at York University. Alex completed his B.Sc (honors) at the University of Alberta in 2014. His research interests derive from working at a group home as a child-care worker and as a respite worker for children on the autistic spectrum. His research interests include information processing and attention abilities in children on the spectrum.
Faryal Khan completed her Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) degree in Psychology at York University. Her research interests in cognitive development derive from working as a therapist for children with ASD. Faryal also completed her Honours Thesis under Dr. Bebko’s supervision which examined audio-visual processing in individuals with ASD. Her current research interests involve attention abilities and social processing among children with ASD.
Previous Graduate Students
Marie Hooper is a second year Masters student in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology program at York University. She completed her BA (hons) at York University. Her research interests in the field began during her teen years and continued on throughout her adult life. She has worked as a respite worker, a program director and supervisor for various programs for children with developmental disabilities across the GTA. Marie’s thesis examined semantic memory and the generation effect in children. Marie is currently interested in attention in children with ASD as well as metamemory and whether children attribute their memory to the strategies that they have learned.
Gayle Goldstein completed her Ph.D. in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology program at York University. She has experience working with deaf children and children who have pervasive developmental disorders in educational, clinical and research settings. She and Dr. James Bebko developed a language measure that was published in the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education in 2003. This measure is currently being validated so that it can be used in clinical and educational settings. Gayle’s Master’s thesis explored strategy use and memory recall amongst children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Gayle is currently completing her dissertation that is investigating the developmental, social, and cognitive skills of children who are deaf and who also have a pervasive developmental disorder.
Kristen McFee completed her Ph.D. in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology program at York University. Her interest in child development stems from early experiences as an IBI instructor-therapist for children with autism, working in social-skills programs for children with Down’s syndrome, and as a family volunteer at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice for children with terminal illnesses. Kristen is a past recipient of the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies – Autism Scholars Award and currently awarded a Doctoral Fellowship by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Her research interests focused on social-communication in children with autism and in particular, alternative and augmentative communication systems (e.g. PECS) commonly used by this population. Her research explored the cognitive skills related to understanding pictures and the potential implications for intervention.
Jessica Schroeder completed her Ph.D. and M.A. in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology program at York University and her B.Sc. at the University of Toronto. Her interest in ASDs stems from her work as an Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) therapist with children with autism. Under the supervision of Dr. James Bebko, her Masters thesis explored how individuals with Asperger Syndrome and autism integrate what is seen and what is heard during speech. Her dissertation research looked at the relationship between bullying involvement and social information processing in children and adolescents with ASD and with typical development. Other research interests include the process that families experience in obtaining an ASD diagnosis, and supporting families of individuals with ASD.
Kerry Wells completed her Ph.D. in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology program at York University. His research interests include memory and attentional issues in typically developing children, as well as children who have autism.
Carly McMorris completed her Ph.D. in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology program at York University, having completed her MA at York University in 2009. Her primary research interests are related to children with autism information processing, specifically memory and attention capabilities. Additional research interests include mental health difficulties in individuals with ASD, as well as examining previous diagnostic histories and experiences of children and individuals with ASD.
Sara Oczak was a Masters student in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology program at York University and is currently completing her Ph.D. Sara completed her B.Sc. at the University of Toronto in 2011. Her research interests stem from working with children on the Autism Spectrum in a special education school, as well as with children of various developmental disabilities in an EEG-Biofeedback Center. Sara’s Master’s thesis involved the comparison of attentional abilities (specifically engagement, shifting, and disengagement) of children and adolescents with an Autism Spectrum Disorder with those of individuals with an Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD).
Busisiwe Ncube was a Masters student in the Clinical-Developmental
Psychology program at York University and is currently completing her Ph.D. Busi completed her B.Sc. at the University of Toronto in 2011. Her research interests stem from working as a instructor-therapist and respite worker with children on the autism spectrum. She is primarily interested in intermodal perception and linguistic processing in individuals with ASD.
Stephanie Brown completed her PhD in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology program at York University. Stephanie completed her M.A. at York University and her B.A. (hons) at the University of Western Ontario. She is interested in the language development of individuals with ASD. Her doctoral dissertation research is examining the neurological underpinnings of how individuals with ASD integrate visual and auditory information. Additionally, she is also interested in the sexual experiences and safety of individuals with ASD.
Lisa Hancock completed both her MA and PhD in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology from York University and a B.Sc. from McGill University in Montreal. Her research interests include the intermodal perception of auditory and visual information in children with an autism spectrum disorder. She is primarily interested in how children integrate what they see and what they hear and how this influences the development of language in children with autism. Secondary research interests include transitional periods for students on the Autism spectrum and specifically how universities are meeting the needs of these students.
Magali Segers completed her PhD in the Clinical-Developmental Psychology program at York University in 2017. Magali received her B.A. (honours) in Psychology at the University of Victoria in 2008 and her MA from York University in 2012. Her research interests stem from working as a Behavioral Interventionist with children on the autism spectrum as well as research exploring the facial processing of children with ASD. Magali’s Master’s thesis involved creating a new paradigm to measure audiovisual integration using an interactive, participant driven approach. Her specific interests are exploring typically developing individuals and individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder integrate speech information, as well as the influence of social factors on this process. Other interests include examining the risk and protective factors related to suicidal behaviours in autism spectrum disorders.
Claudia Molinaro (Undergraduate Honour Student)