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Dr. Melanie Penner

Episode #9: She Sits and She Thinks

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Melanie Penner, MD FRCP(C), joins us to discuss imposter syndrome, the importance of good mentorship, her research and policy work to improve access to Autism services, the value of having hobbies, and so much more!


Dr. Melanie Penner is a developmental paediatrician at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and a clinician investigator at the autism research centre in the Bloorview Research Institute. She is the Bloorview Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Developmental Paediatrics. Dr. Penner works as a developmental paediatrician performing developmental assessments, diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder, and managing psychopharmacological treatment in children with complex behavioural challenges. Her research interests are in expanding and enhancing the care provided to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families in the community.



  • What imposter syndrome is and how to push past it

  • The value of vertical and horizontal mentorship

  • Trying to explain what you do to family and friends who are unfamiliar with research and academia

  • Melanie’s work as a developmental pediatrician

  • ECHO Autism

  • The emotional transaction of giving a diagnosis

  • Staying motivated to do challenging work

  • Recognizing and dealing with the intense emotional work that comes with being a clinician

  • How Dr. Penner does self-care

  • Finding your voice as a woman at the policy table

  • The Autism Strategy and advocating for evidence-informed policy

  • Melanie’s hobbies, such as knitting

  • KneuroKnits

  • Recreational opportunities and treatment/life goals

  • The importance of learning how to acknowledge the emotions that go along with the work that you do



  • Follow Dr. Penner on Twitter

  • Find out more about ECHO Autism at Holland Bloorview 

  • Kneuroknits (a six-week social knitting program) is on offer at Holland Bloorview February 2020, sign up here.

  • Read more about Dr. Penner policy work in JAMA, the cost-effectiveness of wait time reduction for Intensive Behavioural Intervention in Ontario, Canada here


Full transcript of this episode coming soon.