Community Engagement

Our lab is committed to serving our community, professions, state, and university and view service as a vital part of our responsibility to bridge research, share knowledge, educate students, contribute to evidence-based practice, create meaningful community collaborations, and contribute to the mission of the Occupational Therapy Program, Kinesiology Department, and larger University.

Assistant Professor Karla Ausderau (left) and Jessica
Assistant Professor Karla Ausderau (left) and Jessica Muesbeck partnered with a hospital in Boscobel, Wisconsin, to help children with autism better experience an emergency room setting.
  • Madison Children’s Museum We have collaborated extensively with the Madison Children’s Museum to increase accessibility to their physical space and curriculum as well as contribute to education of their staff as to how to support families and children with ASD in the museum environment. The collaboration led to the development of a toolkit, Evaluation Toolkit to Increase Accessibility and Inclusion for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Differences in Public Institutions, for the broader community of cultural institutions to make similar changes. Currently, the toolkit is being used in 236 cultural institutions in the United States and Canada.
  • Emergency Department Accessibility for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
    We have worked with the Gundersen Boscobel Area Hospital and Clinics to improve accessibility to health care in the clinics and emergency department for children ASD. In collaboration with the Boscobel staff and administration, we worked to identify strengths of their environment and potential barriers to effective healthcare for children with ASD.  We collaborated on environmental modifications as well as integrating supports to facilitate care for children with ASD.  The community collaboration served as a foundation for a funded Wisconsin Idea Seed Grant and will provide the framework for other emergency department collaborations in Wisconsin.
  • Special Olympics Wisconsin
    Our lab has worked to establish a unique community service connection with Special Olympics Wisconsin in addition to our research collaborations. We have participated in a number of their community events and collaborating on program evaluations to determine the potential benefits of their health programming.
  • Madison Metropolitan School District’s School Age Parenting Program (MMSD-SAPAR)
    Since 2012, our community service relationship with Madison Metropolitan School District’s School Age Parenting Program (MMSD-SAPAR) has been an integral part of our lab activities mutally benefiting the SAPAR program and learning opportunities for UW students. SAPAR focuses on supporting the education, health, and well-being of pregnant and parenting adolescents in MMSD. We support continuing education within the classroom on the prenatal effects of stress, drugs, and alcohol as well as stress management techniques to mediate effects. We have provided guided imagery training, adapted yoga, and mindfulness practices to the pregnant and parenting teens. We also participate in the Night at the Museum, a collaboration between SAPAR and the Madison Children’s Museum by facilitating developmental activities for teen parents and their child at the museum and education on early indicators of developmental delay and community resources. Finally, we work with the teen parents on further understanding child developmental and role of developmental screenings for their infants. The developmental screening education provides an opportunity to promote healthy child development and empower parenting teenagers.