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Adult Neurodevelopmental Disorders

The Adult Neurodevelopmental Services Research Program is the only program of its kind in Canada with a focus on individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families coping with mental illness and behavioural concerns. It is blended with the clinical services in the Adult Neurodevelopmental Service​ at CAMH, and research is undertaken through partnerships with services providers, consumers and their families, and policy makers.


Research activities

We carry out clinical, health systems and brain stimulation research​ to examine the factors contributing to mental health and behaviour difficulties experienced by adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as potential interventions:

1) Clinical Research

A key focus of the research program is to build our understanding of individuals with intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorder and their families, develop and evaluate treatment and support, and help prevent behavioural and psychiatric crises in this population.  As such, we are analyzing the clinical profile and service needs of our clients, and evaluating the effectiveness of our clinical inpatient and outpatient services and interdisciplinary interventions. We are also studying the experience of families and paid caregivers, and evaluating services targeted toward them.

2) Health Systems Research


Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are one of the most marginalized groups in our health care system. Their needs are very complex and few health care professionals feel comfortable serving them. Therefore, our research addresses broader issues such as service delivery in hospitals, in primary care, and in emergency departments.


3) Brain Stimulation Research


A key focus of our research is to develop novel treatment paradigms based on causative mechanisms of autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Pushpal Desarkar and his team are currently trying to develop a safe magnetic brain stimulation treatment tool that can improve brain functions in people with autism.


Current projects

Dr. Yona Lunsky (Principal Investigator)


Dr. Pushpal Desarkar (Principal Investigator)

  • Assessing and stabilizing aberrant neuroplasticity in autism spectrum disorder using transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • Assessing neuroplasticity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex using paired associative stimulation (PAS) and EEG (PAS-EEG)


Dr. Yona Lunsky, Clinician-Scientist
Dr. Pushpal Desarkar, Psychiatrist and Clinician-Scientist


 News & Discoveries


​CAMH's Dual Diagnosis program conducts the first North American study to look at emergency department use by adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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