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Ryan Stevenson – 2024 Dorothy Killam Fellow

Achieving inclusivity by understanding the sensory processing of autistic people

Western University

Ryan Stevenson is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Brain & Mind Institute at Western University.

Sensory information is our primary way of interpreting the world. Differences in sensory processing shape how one develops. Stevenson’s work focuses on sensory information and processing with neurodiverse populations, particularly autistic individuals. While most autistic individuals exhibit sensory issues, the presentation of these issues varies drastically from individual to individual which makes one-size-fits-all strategies for support less tenable. These sensory issues also tend to cluster in individuals, with select groups having similar issues, known as sensory phenotypes.

Focusing on a large, well-characterized group of autistic children and adolescents, Stevenson’s research will explore the regions of the brain involved with sensory differences in autism. This work will examine differences between sensory phenotypes in terms of cognitive abilities, clinical symptomatology, and demographic factors.

There is considerable evidence that autism is not a single, universal group, but instead shows a high level of diversity. Accounting for this diversity is important in both understanding autism and in providing meaningful, targeted supports to autistic individuals.

Stevenson is an emerging leader in the field with many collaborations, including the Province of Ontario Neurodevelopmental Network, and strong dedication to communicating findings to autistic individuals and their families.


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