Karla Ausderau

OT student doing research with child


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Occupational Therapy
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Karla Ausderau, Ph.D., ORT/L

Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Southern California

Please visit Prof. Ausderau's profile page for additional information.


Current Research


Autism spectrum disorders, Feeding Challenges, and family mealtimes

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder commonly face eating challenges.  Dr. Ausderau's research aims to define specific patterns, associated behaviors, and severity of feeding disorders in children with ASD and establish associations among those characteristics with their growth, dietary status, and family outcomes.  Using family interviews, mealtime observations, and standardized questionnaires, Dr. Ausderau's research focuses on:

  • Learning about the different types of feeding challenges and behaviors in children with autism,
  • Understanding how having a child with autism and feeding challenges impacts family mealtimes,
  • Exploring how the food a child with autism eats is related to their growth and health

Characterizing feeding disorders is a critical step in developing appropriate assessment and intervention practices for promoting the healthy development of children with ASD.

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.



 Studying daily occupations, specifically eating and mealtimes, among families and children with autism spectrum disorders to elucidate the impact on the child's health, family wellness, and overall daily participation. Researching sensory features in children with autism spectrum disorder, including their development and the impact on daily participation. 


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