Autism Speaks awards $148,000 of funding to autistic researchers

July 11, 2023

Autism Speaks is proud to announce the recipients of our new Predoctoral Fellowship Program for Autistic Scientists. Through this fellowship program, our goal is to increase autistic representation in the field of autism research and empower a greater number of autistic scientists to pursue long-lasting research careers.

“With this fellowship program, we are supporting autistic individuals whose combination of academic expertise and lived experience can greatly impact the field of autism research. This grant opportunity allows us to fund innovative research that resonates with the autistic community and makes a meaningful impact for people across the spectrum and throughout the life span,” says Andy Shih, chief science officer at Autism Speaks.

Researchers will be awarded $37,000 per year for two years.

Meet our grantees:

Scout Crowell

Scout Bolton

University of Missouri

Primary Mentor: Shawn Christ, Ph.D.

Approximately 56-70% of autistic youth experience sensory over-responsivity (SOR), an extreme sensitivity to sensory stimuli. SOR can be a debilitating condition and is often associated with decreased social and daily living skills and increased anxiety.

This neuroscience study aims to understand the neural causes of SOR. Using an existing dataset of functional magnetic resonance images (fMRI), the researchers will compare autistic youth with SOR, autistic youth without SOR and non-autistic youth.

The research could be used to inform therapeutic interventions and improve outcomes for autistic individuals across the life span.





Jared Richards

Jared Richards

Drexel University

Primary Mentor: Matthew Lerner, PhD

Autistic people describe autistic burnout (ABO) as an experience characterized by periods of exhaustion, social withdrawal, decreased executive functioning and reduced quality of life. At this time, a measurement that defines autistic burnout while explaining its relationship with other aspects of mental health (like depression) does not exist.

This study will develop and test the validity of a more comprehensive measure of ABO. The researcher will also examine whether levels of social support affect ABO over time.