Dr. Courtney Venker PhD’13, speech-language pathologist and assistant scientist at the Waisman Center
About the talk
Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate severe delays in language development, particularly in the area of comprehension. Venker’s research examines mechanisms of processing and learning in order to understand why these comprehension delays occur. Children with weaker comprehension skills demonstrate poorer familiar-word processing and novel-word learning, suggesting that less robust processing and learning contribute to comprehension delays in ASD. Furthermore, children who show the poorest processing and learning also have the greatest difficulty with visual disengagement (i.e., ”sticky attention”) — an area of known impairment in ASD. These findings are consistent with a developmental model in which impaired visual disengagement negatively affects children’s real-time processing and learning, which subsequently affects their language development.
About the speaker
Venker is a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist and an assistant scientist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. This fall she will be starting a tenure-track faculty position at Michigan State University in its Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. The goal of Venker’s research program is to identify mechanisms of language development in children with autism spectrum disorder. In particular, her work focuses on how children combine auditory and visual information to process and learn language.