Research Projects

Current Research

This study involves mother-child dyads participating in a feeding experience in the laboratory setting. The laboratory environment will allow for a detailed multi-camera capture of the dyadic feeding experience while simultaneously collecting heart rate activity on the mother and child. A child with autism will be fed both a preferred and non-preferred food by their mothers.  Physiological Arousal of this experience will be assessed through heart rate monitors.

We expect both the mother and child stress arousal to increase during mealtime experiences as evidenced by a decreased IBI, specifically under the condition of a non-preferred food presentation. The RSA is expected to decrease indicating a decrease in vagal activity reflecting a decrease in parasympathetic and unmodulated sympathetic activity. With both heart rate measures being influenced by the type and severity of feeding challenge. We expect these biomarker findings to support subjective mother reports from the literature suggesting an increase systemic stress response as well as increased anxiety in specific feeding scenarios. The identification of stress responses through biomarkers in the mother–child dyad will confirm that mothers of children with ASD having feeding disorders are at a high risk for mothering stress, emphasizing the importance of considering the mother and child’s underlying physiological state in addition to the observed feeding behaviors and responses.

Photovoice Project:

An upcoming study will assess the interpretation of “health” by adults with intellectual disabilities. Participants will be given cameras and asked to take pictures of their day-to-day life surrounding healthy behavior. They will then be asked to compare and contrast their photos with fellow participants. The “photovoice” method expands the definition of expression and allows adults with intellectual disabilities to share their healthy behaviors through artistic means.

PCORI:

Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their caregivers will have the opportunity to participate in a research project that involves learning activities to gain knowledge on how they can get engaged in future research. Our toolkit provides an accessible, structured process with the necessary training for people with IDD and their caregivers to be engaged partners in the research process. Learning activities are focused on leadership, information about research, and health for individuals with IDD.

The research learning activities are about the following topics:

  • What is health research?
  • What is the health research process? How can I be involved in health research?
  • Where is research happening?

Young boy with autismThe goal of this proposal is to develop and pilot a parent-mediated intervention for feeding challenges in children with autism building on our recent research and current successful models already being used. A parent-mediated intervention would occur in the home environment, working with the parent to establish the goals and implement the intervention based on their specific child’s needs. No other studies have targeted feeding behaviors using this intervention model. Seventeen families will be enrolled in the intervention that will involve teaching, modeling, and coaching strategies for parents that would become embedded in their daily routines to target feeding behaviors.

This study will answer the following questions:

  • Are we able to adapt and refine a parent-mediated intervention to address feeding challenges in children with autism?
  • Are we able to recruit and retain a diverse group of families that represent Wisconsin? Are the families satisfied with the intervention?
  • Did the intervention improve the child’s feeding skills and behaviors? Did the intervention decrease parental stress?

It is essential that our methods and intervention are appealing and useful to the population we serve – families with young children with autism in Wisconsin. To achieve this, we are working with two local organizations, Communication Innovations and Autism Society of South Central Wisconsin, to ensure that we develop the best possible intervention that is feasible for families and builds on current clinic-based community services. Both of these organizations will be vital to the further development, implementation, and evaluation of the intervention.

Currently Recruiting: 

We are looking for families with children ages 2-7 years with autism and feeding challenges to join an in-home feeding intervention study.

To learn more about this study or to sign up, Download this attached document!

 

GUIDED IMAGERY: REDUCING STRESS AND IMPROVING WELL-BEING IN PREGNANT ADOLESCENTS

The UW Madison Occupation Therapy (MSOT) Program has partnered with Madison Metropolitan School District’s (MMSD) School Aged Parenting Program (SAPAR) for over 16 years.  Dr. Ausderau oversees this student-led project in which MSOT graduate students run guided imagery (GI) research bi-annually with SAPAR students designed to demonstrate the importance of reducing stress during pregnancy.  Furthermore, MSOT graduate students provide educational presentations and activities on stress, nutrition, and effects of substance abuse on the fetus, which grew out of the UW-based research of Professor Emeritus Mary Schneider.

The Zika virus (ZIKV) contributes to a range of neonatal complications when mothers are exposed during pregnancy. Women who have been exposed to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may have an increased risk for transmitting ZIKV in the womb. The exposure to ZIKV are still unclear and variable. This research examines infant rhesus macaque, non-human primate, behavior to better understand the neurodevelopmental implications of ZIKV prenatal exposure. The use of nonhuman primates is necessary due to ethical and feasible constraints. Throughout the first year of life, various assessments are administered, including the weekly Schneider Neonatal Assessment Procedure (SNAP) during the first four weeks, monthly behavioral/cognitive assessments that involves different apparatuses (puzzle feeder, PVC pipe, and sensory sticks), and a human intruder protocol (HIP) assessment that measures rhesus macaque’ behavioral responses to stressful and threatening situations.

Summary: Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their caregivers will have the opportunity to participate in a research project that involves learning activities to gain knowledge on how they can get engaged in future research. Our toolkit provides an accessible, structured process with the necessary training for people with IDD and their caregivers to be engaged partners in the research process. Learning activities are focused on leadership, information about research, and health for individuals with IDD.

The research learning activities are about the following topics:

  • What is health research?
  • How can I create my health story for research and care advocacy?
  • What is the health research process? How can I be involved in the research process?
  • How can I think like a researcher?
  • Where is research happening?

Contact Us

3195 Medical Sciences Center  1300 University Avenue
Madison, WI 53706
Office: 608/262-0653
kausderau@wisc.edu