Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


Sensory behaviors are a common and debilitating component of many neurodevelopmental disorders. Recent advances in sensory phenotyping have identified unique patterns of sensory behaviors in specific neurodevelopmental disorders, suggesting sensory features can be used for diagnosis, prognosis, and as an outcomes measure in treatment trials. Further, sensory behaviors provide a valuable link to underlying circuit mechanisms, improving our understanding of disease processes. Finally, sensory behaviors are an important, impactful, and treatable feature of our patients’ lives, yet they are frequently overlooked. This webinar will introduce sensory processing in neurodevelopmental disorders including incidence, relationship to functional outcome, related healthcare disparities, and the link between sensory processing dysfunction and underlying disease mechanism. Participants will gain valuable, actionable tools regarding how to identify and measure sensory behaviors as well as learn when to refer patients for occupational therapy, what parents/patients can expect in therapy, and data on the effectiveness of sensory integration therapy at improving both sensory behaviors and broader outcome measures.

About the Speakers

Ariel Maia Lyons-Warren, MD, PhD

Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital

Her translational research group focuses on identifying detailed patterns of sensory changes in children with specific neurodevelopmental disorders and then using those patterns to guide hypothesis driven mouse research to elucidate underlying circuit mechanisms. One current area of focus is in developing a new sensory parent questionnaire that captures sensory changes incorporating novel dimensionality such as stimulus intensity.

Elysa J. Marco, MD

Professor of Neurology
Lifetime Neurodevelopmental Center, University of California

Elysa J. Marco, MD is a professor of neurology at Lifetime Neurodevelopmental Center (LiNC) and co-directs the Cortica Innovation Network. She obtained her medical training in pediatric neurology with a research fellowship in genetics, cognition, and behavior at the University of California, San Francisco where she continues to have an active research collaboration. Her research focus involves understanding the flow of information from early sensory processing to higher order cognition and behavior, including social cognition, cognitive control, and emotional regulation. Her clinical and research approach utilizes genetic investigation, neurophysiology, structural and functional neuroimaging, braining training/neuromodulation, and pharmacologic clinical trials to create a rational framework for advancing the mechanisms and treatments for individuals with neurodevelopmental differences.

Teresa A. May-Benson, Sc.D., OTR/L, FAOTA

TMB Education, LLC and OTR, Inc.

Teresa A. May-Benson, Sc.D., OTR/L, FAOTA, President/Owner of TMB Education, LLC and OTR, Inc., is a well-known lecturer and researcher on sensory integration. She is the author of the Adult/Adolescent Sensory History (ASH), the GI Assessment and the Test of Ideational Praxis in addition to numerous articles and book chapters on praxis, ideation, and sensory integration. She has extensive experience with children and adults with autism and a diverse clinical background having worked in private and public school settings as well as private practice. She is past Chairperson of the Sensory Integration Special Interest Section of the American Occupational Therapy Association. She is the recipient of the Virginia Scardinia Award of Excellence and the A. Jean Ayres Award from AOTF, The Alice S. Bachman Award from Pediatric Therapy Network, and the Catherine Trombly Award from the Massachusetts Association of Occupational Therapy. 

April Levin, MD, PhD

April Levin, MD, PhD

Dr. April Levin is an instructor and attending physician in neurology at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She completed her undergraduate work at Brown, Med School at yale, and combined residency at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her clinical work and research focus on management of autism from a child neurology perspective, identifying biomarkers of autism, using information about brain rhythms as measured by EEG.  The long-term goal of this research is to find new ways to predict, diagnose, and monitor autism; in the process, I hope to shed light on how the brain works in children with autism. 

April is also involved with the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, which examines the effects of institutionalization versus foster care on child development.  Her work on this research project has led to involvement in clinical, teaching, and volunteer work in Romanian hospitals and orphanages since 1999.