- Faculty & Staff
- About FASS
- Departments and programs
- Applied Legal Studies
- Cognitive Science
- French Cohort
- Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
- Global Asia
- Global Humanities
- Graduate Liberal Studies
- Hellenic Studies
- Indigenous Languages
- Indigenous Studies
- International Studies
- Labour Studies
- Political Science
- Public Policy
- Social Data Analytics
- Urban Studies
- World Languages & Literatures
- Future Students
- Current Students
- Undergraduate Students
- Advising and Resources
- Connect with Arts Central
- Plan your Program
- Career Experience
- Student Life
- FASS Forward
- FASS 200 Writing Right: Strategies for effective revision
- FASS 204 Communicating in Conflict and Negotiation
- FASS 205 Finding Voice: Public Speaking for Social Change
- FASS 206 Creating Effective Teams
- FASS 207 Cultural Humility: Understanding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- FASS 208 Introduction to Personal Financial Planning for Students
- FASS 210 Language Network Science
- FASS 211 Data Literacy and the City
- FASS 212 Introduction to Social Work Practice: Change Agency
- FASS 214 Exploring EDI: This Is My Story
- INDG 305 Treaties in Canada
- Get FASS Familiar
- Graduate Students
- Undergraduate Students
- FASS at Surrey
- Make meaning
- Next steps for new students
Students, FASS News, Psychology
SFU psychology alumnus Troy Boucher always knew he wanted a career working with children, although he was uncertain about what type of career that might be. But after gaining on-the-job experience during a student work/study position in Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab (ADDL), he found his niche.
“That’s when things opened up for me and I could see exactly what I wanted to do,” recalls Boucher. “Working with kids in a clinical environment, working through some difficulty or challenge they’re facing, is something I believe I could really help children with.”
Now, he hopes to enter SFU’s master’s program in clinical psychology towards becoming a clinical psychologist. He wants to help children with neurodiversity, a concept that recognizes and respects neurological differences, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as part of our brain’s natural diversity.
Working as a researcher and then lab manager in the ADDL, Boucher learned first-hand about how the challenges facing neurodiverse youth can affect their social, emotional and cognitive function.
What’s more, he encountered some of those challenges himself when he arrived at SFU at age 17. He struggled to balance a heavy course load with goalie duties for the SFU men’s lacrosse team before discovering, in his second year, that he has ADHD.
With support from Student Services’ Health and Counselling, however, he developed coping strategies that led to academic success.
“My diagnosis has given me the lived experience to understand the struggles that neurodiverse youth [may] face in school, social interactions and in family life,” he says.
During his second year at the Autism and Developmental Disorders Lab, Boucher began designing his own research studies. He also took over operations for the annual SFU Social Science camp that each summer attracts about 90 kids diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. They participate in activities, research and games while their parents attend free workshops and get involved in the lab’s research.
Boucher supervised 80 volunteers at the camp while also working with campers who may experience challenging behaviour and emotions. As well, he managed data collected from more than 40 caregivers. He says running the camp and working directly with neurodiverse children honed his leadership skills and boosted his confidence to become involved in larger lab and community projects.
Off campus, Boucher volunteers as a researcher for a Special Olympics BC initiative to reduce the health gap between neurotypical people and those with an intellectual disability. This population experiences dramatically higher rates of preventable disease, chronic pain and has a lower life expectancy.
Although Boucher graduated earlier this year with an honours degree in psychology, he continues to manage the lab. He hopes to extend his honours research thesis topic into an MA research project if he’s accepted into the clinical psychology program.
“I want to understand how the very intense interests of many children diagnosed with ASD play a role in their social development and emotional regulation,” he says. “When a child talks about these interests you can see them light up because it’s something they’re truly passionate about. We’re approaching this in a way that sees these special interests as a benefit rather than a detriment.”