Stefanie Bodison receives AOTA Roster of Fellows Award for contributions to pediatric occupational therapy

Dr. Stefanie Bodison
Dr. Stefanie Bodison

Stefanie Bodison, O.T.D., OTR/L, an assistant professor in the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions department of occupational therapy, has received the 2023 Roster of Fellows Award from the American Occupational Therapy Association.

The Roster of Fellows Award recognizes occupational therapists who through their knowledge, expertise, leadership, advocacy and guidance have made a significant contribution to the profession with a measurable impact on consumers or association members.

Bodison was selected for her pioneering research that uses sophisticated neuroimaging methods to support the theoretical foundation of several pediatric occupational therapy interventions. Throughout her clinical and scientific career, Bodison has focused on sensory integration, the brain’s ability to process and organize information from the body’s seven senses. These include taste, touch, sight, sound and smell, as well as the movement, or vestibular, sense, and proprioception, the body awareness sense.

“These seven sensory systems help all of us understand our world and successfully interact in our daily lives,” Bodison said. “Our nervous systems are bombarded all day, every day by information from these sensory systems. Sensory processing is your brain’s ability to take in that sensory information, make sense of it at the neural level and allow your brain and body to use it to develop and use motor skills, stay emotionally regulated and understand the world.”

Children with sensory processing disorders may experience motor skill developmental delays and over sensitivity to certain kinds of sensory data that can cause attentional and emotional regulation problems that are sometimes misdiagnosed as behavioral issues. Sensory processing disorders may lead to difficulty developing positive social relationships and skills necessary to successfully interact with people and objects in the world, Bodison said.

As director of the Sensory Development Lab, Bodison uses of a variety of neuroimaging techniques to examine white matter microstructure in the areas of the brain believed to be associated with sensory integration. These studies are designed to gain a better understanding of typical and atypical development, as well as measure the impact of sensory integration treatments. Her work has been funded by the Department of Defense, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the Southern California Clinical Translational Science Institute.

Bodison’s AOTA Roster of Fellows Award nominators also commended her decades of leadership, advocacy and education in the profession. Notably, she contributed to a systematic review on sensory techniques and environmental modifications that served as a foundation for the 2018 AOTA Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Children and Youth with Challenges in Sensory Integration and Sensory Processing. She has taught nearly 70 continuing education courses for clinicians in the U.S. and abroad, and contributed to two videos for parents and caregivers offered through These videos have been viewed more than 3 million times.

“Dr. Bodison is a strong, successful role model and mentor who, through her actions, inspires others to engage in their own continuing education, professional development and personal growth to reach aspirational goals,” wrote a group of nominators led by Heather Miller Kuhaneck, Ph.D., OTR/L, a professor at Southern Connecticut State University. “Her contributions to supporting occupational therapy best practice cannot be overstated.”