The Social Sensory Processing Study (SSPS)

Request Information

We are currently looking for families with children between ages 8-12 who would like to participate in SSPS.
Your time and effort will be compensated (up to $125). Participants also receive a clinical report from our licensed clinical psychologist.
Participation is voluntary and can be withdrawn at any time.

Click on the "Request Information" button above and provide your contact information if you would like to hear more about participating in the study!

SSPS Participant Information

The study overview is a "play-by-play" picture story of the study activities during the three study visits. This is intended as a detailed visualization aid for your child. For additional information about the MRI and a preparation MRI video, see the MRI Information page.

What is being studied?

Dr. Natalia Kleinhans, an associate professor of radiology, is leading a team of researchers from the University of Washington to better understand the biochemical, brain, and behavioral causes of social challenges and sensory sensitivity in children with autism. The information gained in this study will lead to advancements in our understanding of individuals with autism and sensory processing disorder.

Who can participate?

We are seeking 8 to 12 year olds with high functioning autism, 8-12 year olds with sensory processing challenges, and 8-12 year olds who are typically developing. Your child would participate in two to three sessions, each between 1 hr. and 4 hrs. in length. The study uses questionnaires, behavioral tasks, a brain scan and a nasal cell collection.

What does the study involve?

Participation includes 3 visits to the University of Washington Autism Center/Center for Human Development and Disability, as well as two phone interviews. Activities include IQ testing, autism diagnostic evaluations, questionnaires, smell testing and a nasal cell collection with a physician.

How will I benefit from participating?

Participants will earn up to $125, get to see a picture of their brain, and receive a comprehensive report written by the University of Washington Autism Center clinician conducting the IQ testing and autism diagnostic evaluations that are a part of this study. This report will include IQ test results, autism diagnostic results, recommendations for future progress and suggestions regarding resources supporting progress.

Where and when does the study take place?

Our study takes place at the Center on Human Development and Disability (CHDD) at the University of Washington Kleinhans Lab. We will schedule your visits at a convenient time for you.


Principal study physician, Greg Davis, M.D, M.P.H.

Greg Davis M.D., M.P.H.

UW Medicine Profile

Greg E. Davis, M.D., M.P.H., is currently an associate professor of otolaryngology at the University of Washington. He is the director of rhinology and endoscopic skull base surgery. Dr. Davis earned his medical degree from the University of Washington's School of Medicine, then completed a seven year residency in otolaryngology - head and neck surgery at the University of Washington. During his residency, he completed a two year clinical research fellowship where he earned his Master's in Public Health, a degree when he focused on clinical trial design and management, biostatistics, and epidemiology. After residency, he traveled to Adelaide Australia and spent additional time training with P.J. Wormald, a world-renowned rhinologist.

Check out Dr. Greg in the news, helping a gorilla at Woodland Park Zoo with a sinus infection!

Co-PI, Dr. Nephi Stella, PHD

Nephi Stella, Ph.D.

UW Pharmacology Profile

Nephi Stella and his colleagues study the biological mechanisms that control the amplitude of neuroinflammatory responses in the central nervous system. Their goal is to generate specific drugs that may temper central nervous system inflammation, ssuch as the inflammation associated with Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis, and the associated neural damages.

Clinical Psychologists

Clinical Psychologist, Tanya St. John, Ph.D.

Tanya St. John, Ph.D.

UW Autism Center Profile

Dr. St. John received her Ph.D. from Seattle Pacific University and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at UW through the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences as well as the Autism Center. Dr. St. John's core areas of interest include early identification and diagnosis of ASDs, infant development, and neuropsychology. She directs the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS), a longitudinal study of infants at high risk for developing ASDs, and is a diagnostic clinician for other research studies conducted at the UW Autism Center. She is also an independent ADOS trainer. Dr. St. John has worked with a wide range of individuals with diverse backgrounds, aged from 3 months to 80 years old.