PsychEng Seminar 2023 March 21: Prof. Meng-Chuan Lai, U of T Psychiatry

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Room 2135, Bahen Centre
40 St. George Street

Calling all neurodivergent (and neurotypical) people for a brainstorming session to improve social wellbeing for all


Speaker: Prof. Meng-Chuan Lai
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto

Title: Towards environmental adjustment for social communication with autistic individuals


Autism has historically been viewed as a medical condition that requires intervention aimed at developing the social-communication skills of diagnosed individuals. However, there is increased appreciation of neurodiversity (i.e., the variety of different minds and brains in the human population), as well as awareness that the disabilities experienced by autistic individuals have substantial contextual-social origins. Therefore, interventions can also target the neurotypical-majority environment and the neurotypical population, to enhance the social well-being of both autistic and neurotypical people.

In this brainstorming session, I will introduce relevant conceptual and intervention evolution, and propose potential directions for environment-focused approaches. A goal of the session is to exchange ideas towards incorporating engineering-design methods to enhance the social well-being of autistic people.


Dr. Meng-Chuan Lai is a staff psychiatrist and senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto. He is an Associate Professor and Co-Chair, Advisory Council for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Indigeneity and Accessibility in Clinical Care in the Department of Psychiatry, and Graduate Faculty at the Institute of Medical Science and Department of Psychology, University of Toronto. He is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, and an Adjunct Associate Professor and Attending Psychiatrist at the National Taiwan University Hospital. He is an INSAR Fellow and an editor of the journals Autism and Molecular Autism. As a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Sex and Gender Science Chair, Dr. Lai’s work focuses on how sex- and gender-related factors act as modulating mechanisms for the presentation and adaptation, clinical recognition, neurobiology, and etiologies of neurodevelopmental and co-occurring mental health conditions.

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