Sigan Hartley

Sigan Hartley, PhD

PhD, University of Wyoming
Associate Professor, Human Development & Family Studies

Contact Information:

Waisman Center
1500 Highland Ave
Room 559
Madison, WI 53705
Lab Website: Hartley Lab

Research Statement

My research examines the individual resources and family contexts underlying positive well-being in adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities and their families. Developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders, down syndrome, and fragile X syndrome are lifelong conditions. Yet research and services are heavily focused on the early stages of the life course; relatively little is known about the mechanisms promoting well-being during adulthood. Even less is known about the experiences and well-being of aging parents, and particularly fathers, who have an adult child with a developmental disability. My research explores the biological and environmental risk and resiliency factors related to psychological and physical well-being in aging parents caring for adult children with developmental disabilities.

The challenges of parenting a child with a developmental disability or mental health condition can take a toll on marriages. One line of my research is focused on understanding the factors that promote resiliency in marriages in the context of stressful parenting. My research also examines the bidirectional relation between marital quality and child psychological well-being and functioning across the lifespan.

I am also interested in understanding the factors contributing to mental health disorders and the experience of stress in adults with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. My research explores how biological, cognitive, and behavioral factors interact with the environmental context, including the family, support services, and broader community, to contribute to these experiences. The long-term objective of this research is to develop interventions aimed at promoting effective emotion regulation and adaptive coping to improve the psychological well-being of adults with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. The research in my lab is done in collaboration with other Waisman Center Investigators including Drs. Marsha Mailick Seltzer, Jan Greenberg, Leonard Abbeduto, and Brad Christian.

Representative Publications

Mileviciute I, Hartley SL. (2015) Self-reported versus informant-reported depressive symptoms in adults with mild intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. 59(2):158-69. doi: 10.1111/jir.12075.

Hartley SL, Esbensen AJ, Shalev R, Vincent L, Mihaila I, Bussanich P. (2015) Cognitive behavioral therapy for depressed adults with mild intellectual disability: A Pilot Study. Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities. In Press.

Hartley SL, Wheeler AC, Mailick MR, Raspa M, Mihaila I, Bishop E, Bailey DB. (2015) Autism Symptoms Across Adulthood in Men with Fragile X Syndrome: A Cross-Sectional Analysis. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. In Press.

Hartley SL, Schultz HM. (2015) Support needs of fathers and mothers of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 45(6):1636-48. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2318-0.

Hartley SL, Handen BL, Devenny DA, Hardison R, Mihaila I, Price JC, Cohen AD, Klunk WE, Mailick MR, Johnson SC, Christian BT. (2014) Cognitive functioning in relation to brain amyloid-β in healthy adults with Down syndrome. Brain. 137(Pt 9):2556-63.

Hartley SL, Schaidle EM, Burnson CF. (2013) Parental attributions for the behavior problems of children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. 34(9):651-60.

Hartley SL, Barker ET, Baker JK, Seltzer MM, Greenberg JS. (2012) Marital Satisfaction and Life Circumstances of Grown Children With Autism Across 7 Years. Journal of Family Psychology. In Press.

Hartley SL, Seltzer MM, Hong J, Greenberg JS, Smith L, Almeida D, Coe C, Abbeduto L. (2012) Cortisol response to behavior problems in FMR1 premutation mothers of adolescents and adults with fragile X syndrome: A diathesis-stress model. International Journal of Behavioral Development. Jan;36(1):53-61.

Hartley SL, Seltzer MM, Head L, Abbeduto L. (2012) Psychological Well-being in Fathers of Adolescents and Young Adults with Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, and Autism. Family Relations. Apr 1;61(2):327-342.

Hartley SL, Seltzer MM, Raspa M, Olmstead M, Bishop E, Bailey DB. (2011) Exploring the adult life of men and women with fragile X syndrome: results from a national survey. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Jan;116(1):16-35.

Barker ET, Hartley SL, Seltzer MM, Floyd FJ, Greenberg JS, Orsmond GI. (2011) Trajectories of emotional well-being in mothers of adolescents and adults with autism. Developmental Psychology. Mar;47(2):551-61.

Hartley SL, Barker ET, Seltzer MM, Greenberg JS, Floyd FJ. (2011) Marital satisfaction and parenting experiences of mothers and fathers of adolescents and adults with autism. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Jan;116(1):81-95.

Hartley SL, Barker ET, Seltzer MM, Floyd F, Greenberg J, Orsmond G, Bolt D. (2010) The relative risk and timing of divorce in families of children with an autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Family Psychology. Aug;24(4):449-57..