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Sandra (Sandy) Thompson-Hodgetts, PhD, OT

Associate Professor

Rehabilitation Medicine

Occupational Therapy

About Me


Post-Doctoral Fellowship (Pediatrics) - University of Alberta, 2010-2013 

PhD (Rehabilitation Science) - University of Alberta, 2009 

MClSc (Occupational Therapy) – University of Western Ontario, 2000

B.Sc (Kinesiology) – McMaster University, 1998

Professional Interests 

I am co-director of the Supporting Kids Inclusion & Participation (S.K.I.P.) Lab in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta. My research program engages a multi-method approach (e.g., trials, reviews, qualitative inquiry, stakeholder surveys, etc.) to better understand facilitators and barriers to inclusion and participation for people with autism and related developmental disabilities and their families, including (1) how disclosure of a diagnosis and education may influence outcomes, and (2) how theoretically-informed goal setting processes can be used to engage children in goal setting. I am primarily interested in contextual, rather than remediation, approaches, such as interventions at the peer, community, service provider, and societal level.  


Research Affiliate: CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, McMaster University 

Research Affiliate: Autism Research Centre, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital and Alberta Health Services. 

Academic Member: Women and Children's Health Research Institute (WCHRI)

Research Affiliate: Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital

UofA co-site lead, Executive Member: Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program (CCHCSP)


I was awarded a new investigator award from PolicyWise (formerly Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research) from 2015-2017. Previously, I was an awarded trainee in the CIHR Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program (CCHCSP; post-doctoral), the Autism Research Training Program (CIHR, doctoral-level), and the Sick Kids Foundation (doctoral-level). 


Current Research as PI/Co-PI 

Participation in Community Programs for Children with ASD: Facilitators, Barriers, and the Influence of Stigma (Funding Source: SSHRC)

Influencing inclusion for children with ASD in communities: Peer interaction and responses in context (preventive disclosure in community recreation) (Funding Sources: WCHRI/Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation, CanChild Centre for Child Disability Research, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine)

Evaluation of effectiveness of child-oriented goal-setting in paediatric rehabilitation (the ENGAGE approach): A pragmatic cluster randomized controlled trial and economic analysis (Co-PI with Dr. Lesley Pritchard-Wiart, Dept of PT; Funding Source: Maternal Newborn Child and Youth Strategic Clinical Network)

Additional Projects

Thriving with Autism: Internal and external factors that influence thriving for individuals with autism (PI: Dr. Heather Brown, Educational Psychology, UofA)

Current Trainees and Lab Members

Ashley McKillip, PhD. Ashley completed a PhD in Rehabilitation Science in December 2017. She is involved in the coordination of all projects, grant writing, and mentorship of trainees. She will be starting a post-doctoral fellowship in September 2019, leading the process evaluation of the ENGAGE approach within paediatric rehabilitation (component of the ENGAGE approach RCT).

Hannah Furness, MScOT Scholar Stream Student. Hannah started her Scholar Stream research assistantship and independent project in January 2019. She is interested in community inclusion and peer engagement for children with ASD, including peers' perceptions of the influence of ASD awareness and education.

Parisa Wazir, MScOT Scholar Stream Student. Parisa started her Scholar Stream research assistantship and independent project in the summer 2018. She is interested in community inclusion and peer engagement for children with ASD, including organizational approaches to inclusion. 

Noelle Mack-Peterson, MScOT Scholar Stream Student. Noelle started her Scholar Stream research assistantship and independent project in the summer 2018. She is interested in community inclusion and peer engagement for children with ASD, including parents' decision-making related to inclusive versus disability-specific programs.

Lu'an Fan, MScRehab Science Student. Lu-an joined us in September 2018. She is from China, and spent her last year of her undergraduate studies in kinesiology at the UofA. She is interested in peer engagement and participation in community programs for children with ASD, including the influence of ASD awareness and education on peer engagement, inclusion and perceptions of similarities/differences.

Jackie Ryan, PhD Rehab Science Student. Jackie joined us in September 2018. She is interested in self-determination for persons with ASD, including goal-setting processes and engaging autistic youth and adults in research, across the lifespan and spectrum of ASD.

Carmen Dubland, Undergraduate Student, King's University. Carmen is completing her undergraduate honours project, engaged in projects related to disclosure of ASD and participation in community recreation programs.

Past Trainees

Marghalara Rashid, PhD (post-doctoral fellow)

Rinita Mazumder, MScRS (Master's student)

Fanny Lacelle-Webster, MD (Developmental Paediatrics sub-speciality fellow research trainee)

Oliver Bild, M.SLP (Master's student)

Karisa Teindl, MScOT (scholar stream)

Kamaldeep Gill, MScOT (scholar stream)

Kathryn Richard, MScOT (scholar stream)

Stephanie Chiu, MScPT (summer student)


I am the primary instructor for Enabling Occupation and Participation for Children and Youth (Occth555) and co-instructor for Theory, Evidence and Skills in Practice: Synthesis (Occth530).