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Sandra (Sandy) Hodgetts, PhD, OT

Assistant 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 (with Dr. Shanon Phelan) 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., reviews, qualitative inquiry, stakeholder surveys, single-case designs, trials, etc.) to better understand facilitators and barriers to inclusion and participation for people with autism and related developmental disabilities and their families, including how disclosure (or concealment) of a diagnosis may influence outcomes. Rather than the "traditional" deficit-focused and remediation-based approaches most often used with persons with ASD and other DD, I am interested in approaches that target the social environment (influencing factors outside the person with ASD), such as interventions at the peer, community, and societal level.  


I am a research affiliate with the CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research, McMaster University, and the Autism Research Centre, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital and Alberta Health Services. I am UofA co-site lead for the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program (CCHCSP).


Funding Sources

I am supported by an Early Career Transition Salary Award through the Alberta Centre for Child, Family and Community Research (ACCFCR; 2015-2017). I was a post-doctoral trainee funded through a salary award from the CIHR Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program (CCHCSP) and my PhD work was funded through salary awards from the SickKids Foundation and the CIHR Autism Research Training Program.  

Current Research 

Autism in the media: A framing analysis

Building employer capacity to advance employment opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities (Funding Source: Ontario Ministry of Community & Social Services)

Disclosing their child’s diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder to others: Family processes and perceived outcomes (Funding Source: WCHRI/Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation)

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

Team Members

Joanna Hulzenga, MEd, BScOT. Joanna co-instructs Occth557/555 (Enabling occupation and participation for children and youth), amongst other responsibilities in the Department of OT and SKIP Lab. Joanna also works 0.6 FTE as a practicing OT with preschool and kindergarten children in Black Gold Regional Schools.

Marghalara Rashid, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow. Marghalara started a post-doctoral fellowship in January 2016. She brings expertise in knowledge synthesis and qualitative research methods to a new area of research related to building employment capacity for people with developmental disabilities. 

Rinita Mazumder, MScRehab Science student. Rinita just joined us from Victoria, BC to pursue a Master's of Rehabilitation Science. She is interested in inclusion and stigma in ASD, and how knowledge of an ASD diagnosis may affect social inclusion in community contexts. 

Oliver Bild, BSc, MSc.SLP student. Oliver is completing a thesis focused on pragmatic language outcomes related to participation in the PEERS Program (co-supervied by Dr. Monique Charest, Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, UofA). 

Stephanie Chiu, BSc Student. Stephanie is a 3rd year bioscience undergraduate student at UofA. She has been volunteering in the SKIP Lab since May 2015. She will be working in the SKIP Lab full time this summer (funded through an undergraduate research award) on a framing analysis of how ASD is portrayed in the Canadian media.

Karisa Teindl, MSc.OT Student. Karisa is currently in her first year of graduate studies in the Occupational Therapy program. Her research areas of interest include resiliency among children with disabilities and their caregivers, social perspective taking, animal-assisted therapy, and the accessibility of supports and services for adults with ASD. Karisa is working on the study "Building Employer Capacity to Support Meaningful Employment for Adults with Developmental Disabilities". 


I am the primary instructor for Enabling Occupation and Participation for Children and Youth (Occth555) and 'Autism: The Role of Occupational Therapy' (Occth543). I was the recipient of the RMSA (Rehabilitation Medicine Students’ Association) Teaching Award in February, 2015.