Kathy S Thiemann-Bourque, Ph.D

Kathy S. Thiemann-Bourque, Ph.D.

Kathy S. Thiemann-Bourque

My research over the past 20 years has focused on developing effective social and peer-mediated interventions for individuals with autism, with implementation in inclusive settings. I have established partnerships with local school districts, and work closely with staff to implement evidence-based practices with high fidelity. My most recent R01 grant funded through NIDCD investigated the effectiveness of a peer-mediated intervention for preschoolers with autism and complex communication needs learning to use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Approaches were developed in two prior pilot studies funded by the Friends of the Life Span Institute at KU, with positive outcomes observed for child-peer communication and interactions using an iPad as a speech-generating device. I have been an investigator on multiple NIH grants with goals related to assessing communication of children learning to use AAC, preverbal social communication competencies of toddlers with autism, and evaluating home language environments using automated speech recognition technology (LENA). I assisted in development of the Communication Complexity Scale (CCS), a measure of early prelinguistic and linguistic development for individuals with minimal to no verbal skills, and I am a co-investigator on an R01 funded to validate this scale. I am interested in addressing the lack of structured assessment tools for identifying peer-related social communication competencies in this population, and have investigated the sensitivity of the CCS to address this need. My scholarly research program has resulted in multiple peer-reviewed publications in highly ranked journals, and I have shared outcomes locally, nationally, and internationally. I have mentored many research assistants completing degrees at KU across different disciplines, served on thesis and dissertation committees, and I provide grant writing guidance to early investigators at Juniper Gardens.

Associate Research Professor, Juniper Gardens Children’s Project ,

Ph.D., Communication Disorders, Florida State University
M.A., Speech-Language Pathology, Western Washington University
B.S., Speech Pathology and Audiology, University of Alberta
Post-Doctoral Associate, Autism and Special Education Research, University of Kansas

Contact Information


444 Minnesota Avenue
Juniper Gardens
Kansas City, Kansas 66101

785-864-0586, ext. 2619

Research Interests

Social communication interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD); augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for children with complex communication needs; peer-mediated interventions; school-based services and teacher training; assessment of early communication skills

Professional Service

Member, American Speech-Language Hearing Association, Certificate of Clinical Competence
Editorial Review Committee, Special Interest Group 12, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, ASHA
Autism Topic Committee for the ASHA Annual Conference.
Clinically certified on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale (ADOS)
Licensed speech-language pathologist in Kansas and Missouri


Thiemann-Bourque, K. (May, 2017). Investigator of the Year Award, Life Span Institute, University of Kansas.

Recent Publications

Thiemann-Bourque, K., Feldmiller, S., Hoffman, L., & Johner, S. (2018). Incorporating a peer-mediated approach into speech generating device intervention: Effects on communication of preschool children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 61, 2045-2061. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-17-0424

Thiemann-Bourque, K., & Warren, S. F. (2018). Programs supporting young children’s language development: 2nd Revision. In: Tremblay, R. E., Barr, R. G., & Peters, R. (Eds). Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development [online]. Montreal, Quebec: Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development, 1-11. http://www.child-encyclopedia.com/pages/PDF/Thiemann-WarrenANGxp_rev.pdf

Thiemann-Bourque, K., Johnson, L. & Brady, N. (in press). Similarities in functional play and differences in symbolic play of children with autism spectrum disorder. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Thiemann-Bourque, K., Brady, N., & Hoffman, L. (in press). Application of the Communication Complexity Scale in peer and adult communication contexts for preschoolers with autism spectrum disorders. American Journal of Speech Language Pathology.

Thiemann-Bourque, K., McGuff, S., & Goldstein, H. (2017). Training peer partners to use a speech-generating device with classmates with ASD: Exploring communication outcomes across preschool contexts. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60(9), 2648-2662.

Schmidt, C., Schmidt, M., Kamps, D., Thiemann-Bourque, K., & Mason, R. (2017). Pilot investigation of language development of children with autism receiving peer networks intervention. Journal on Developmental Disabilities, 23(1), 3-17.

Thiemann-Bourque, K., Brady, N., McGuff, S., Stump, K., & Naylor, A. (2016). PECS and PALS: A peer-mediated AAC intervention for minimally verbal preschoolers with autism. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 59(5), 1133-1145. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0313

Thiemann-Bourque, K. (2016). Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, SIG 1, Vol 1 (Part 1). Guest Editor. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Miller, T., & Thiemann-Bourque, K. (2016). Integrating written-text cues and graphic cues into peer-mediated interventions: Effects on reciprocal social communication skills. Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, 1(1), 20-28.

Kamps, D., Thiemann-Bourque, K., Heitzman-Powell, L., Schwartz, I., Rosenberg, N., Mason, R., & Cox, S. (2014). A comprehensive peer network intervention to improve social communication of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A randomized control trial in kindergarten and first grade. Journal of Autism and other Developmental Disorders, 45, 1809-1824.


Thiemann-Bourque, K. (August, 2018). Peers join in: Improving social communication outcomes for children with ASD. Invited Presentation, Grant Wood Education Agency, Cedar Rapids, IA.

Thiemann-Bourque, K. (May, 2018). Communication intervention for preschoolers learning to use AAC. Investigator of the Year Award Presentation, Life Span Institute, University of Kansas.

Thiemann-Bourque, K., Feldmiller, S., Johner, S., & Hoffman, L. (2017). Peers as competent AAC partners for preschoolers with autism: Results of a 4-year intervention study. Seminar, American Speech and Hearing Association Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA.

Thiemann-Bourque, K. (September, 2017). Peer-mediated interventions for preschool and school-age children with autism spectrum disorders. Invited webinar, American Speech and Hearing Association.

Thiemann-Bourque, K. Feldmiller, S., & Johner, S. (May, 2017). A peer-mediated intervention for preschoolers with autism using AAC: Effects on presymbolic and symbolic communication. Poster presented at the International Society for Autism Research, San Francisco, CA.

Thiemann-Bourque, K. (February, 2017). Peer-mediated interventions: Getting students with ASD talking and having fun. Invited presentation, Mid-South Conference, Memphis, TN.

Brady, N., Thiemann-Bourque, K., Fleming, K., Kasari, C. (November, 2016). Measuring treatment change with the Communication Complexity Scale. American Speech and Hearing Association, Philadelphia, PA.

Thiemann-Bourque, K., Feldmiller, S., Johner, S., & Brady, N. (October, 2016). A Communication Intervention for Preschoolers with Autism Learning to use AAC (CI-PAAC). Poster presented at the 50th Anniversary of Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, Kansas City, KS.

Brady, N. & Thiemann-Bourque, K. (June, 2016). Assessment and treatment of nonverbal or minimally verbal children with autism & other neurodevelopmental disabilities. Invited presentation, AAC Summer Conference, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska.

Thiemann-Bourque, K. (Feb, 2016). AAC and peer partner instruction for nonverbal or minimally verbal children with autism. Invited in-service, Spring Hill School District, Spring Hill, Kansas.

Thiemann-Bourque, K. (Nov, 2015). AAC and peer partner instruction: Treatment approaches of nonverbal or minimally verbal children with autism. Invited Seminar, American Speech and Hearing Association, Denver, CO.

Thiemann-Bourque, K. (Oct, 2015). Peer-mediated interventions for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Getting started and making it work. On-line presentation, invited by Columbia Regional Program, Portland, OR.

Thiemann-Bourque, K. (May, 2015). Peer mediated interventions: Increasing social communication skills among children with ASD. Invited seminar, at the Columbia Regional Program Conference, Portland, OR.