The KU Life Span Institute brings together researchers at the intersections of education, behavioral science and neuroscience to study problems that directly affect the health and well-being of individuals and communities in Kansas, as well as across the nation and world. They work toward interventions and independence for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They seek the causes of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder. They research solutions to attain equity in the classroom, treat addiction, reduce childhood obesity and more to ensure a healthy, prospering communities. In addition to this internationally-renowned research program, thousands of people benefit from the direct services, training and consultations provided by the KU Life Span Institute and its research centers.
Pave the way for academic success in infancy. Increasing the interactive talk between very young children and their caregivers is a key factor in early brain and behavioral development, and it has been shown to contribute directly to academic achievement and success in school and beyond. Through the PC Talk program, researchers at the Juniper Gardens Children's Project help parents and caregivers learn and become proficient at using communication strategies in their daily routines to increase language learning opportunities that infants and young children have at home and in child care. Gifts for this project will support development of a suite of online videos in English and Spanish and an app to help teach these strategies to parents and caregivers.
Foster healthy child development in area Native American communities. Speech-language pathologist Joshuaa Allison-Burbank and KU graduate students work with Native American families living in rural and urban Kansas communities to identify the needs of parents and unite them with resources. Among the topics addressed at these child development summits held in Kansas tribal communities are developmental disabilities, speech delay or hearing problems, early intervention options, and identifying parenting strategies to address behavior issues. Help expand this program to serve 150 families through three summits in northeast Kansas.
Help Kansans with disabilities to be independent. The Assistive Technology for Kansans program helps citizens test adaptive technologies before buying them, to determine what will work best before investing in equipment. To provide individuals with disabilities with options for personal and home safety, researchers will create two home automation demonstration centers. Such centers show how security features can help individuals with disabilities live independently in their homes.