University of Wisconsin–Madison

Audra Sterling, PhD

Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders

Audra Sterling, PhD

PhD, University of Kansas

Contact Information

Waisman Center
1500 Highland Ave
Room 481
Madison, WI 53705
608.265.6901
asterling@waisman.wisc.edu
Website: Research in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Lab (RIDDL)

Research Statement

My work focuses on the cognitive and language development of individuals with developmental disabilities. In particular I am interested in children with fragile X syndrome, autism, and Down syndrome. The long term goals of my research seek to understand the contributions of both biology (as represented by genetic syndromes, e.g., FXS) and environment (as represented in this case by parenting) in the development of language and cognition in children with developmental disabilities.

The current study in my lab focuses on the language development of boys with fragile X syndrome as well as boys with idiopathic autism. Fragile X syndrome is the most common inherited cause of intellectual disability and shares a striking number of similarities in terms of the language and behavioral phenotype with autism. Approximately 25-45% of males with fragile X also have a co-diagnosis of autism. The current study aims to describe the language profile of children with fragile X and children with autism, with a particular focus on syntax and morphology. I am also interested in the impact of autism on fragile X, and how this is similar and/or different to language in idiopathic autism. Additionally the study is also examining the best methods for assessing language in fragile X and autism. Very little is known about assessment and intervention for language development in fragile X, and the results of this study have important clinical implications in terms of designing and implementing the most effective treatments in this population.

I have several other projects focused on other areas of language and cognitive development in developmental disabilities, including the language and cognitive development of females with fragile X syndrome, adult language in idiopathic autism, and best assessment measures for autism in other clinical populations (i.e., fragile X).

Selected Publications