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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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News and Events

Karla Ausderau honored with 2022 Patricia Buehler Legacy Award for Clinical Innovation
November 18, 2022

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Headshot photograph of Karla Ausderau

Karla Ausderau (Courtesy of Karla Ausderau)

Karla Ausderau MA ’00, PhD ’09, associate professor in the occupational therapy program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and two-time USC alumna, was awarded the division’s 2022 Patricia Buehler Legacy Award for Clinical Innovation. Ausderau visited USC Chan for three days to meet with faculty, students and community partners, and on Nov. 14, delivered her Buehler Award lecture titled “Inclusive Research Practice: Integrating Stakeholder and Community Participation.”

Ausderau is the director of the Ausderau Lab at UW Madison’s Waisman Center, an interdisciplinary center housing research, educational, clinical and service programming. Ausderau’s research program focuses on improving the health and well-being of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families to understand the impact of daily occupations, specifically eating and mealtimes, on the child’s health, family wellness and overall participation. She also studies sensory features in autistic children, including their development, characterization and impact on daily occupations. She uses a transactional theoretical perspective, in which development and well-being results from the intersection of child or individual factors, family characteristics and environmental context.

Some of Ausderau’s current projects include: addressing COVID-19 implications on services, health and well-being for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; piloting a parent-mediated intervention for feeding challenges in autistic children; overseeing a guided imagery intervention delivered by OT graduate students to improve well-being in pregnant adolescents; and examining infant rhesus macaque behavior to better understand neurodevelopmental implications of prenatal exposure to ZIKA virus. She has published in Autism Research & Treatment, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, American Journal of Occupational Therapy and the Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, among others.

She is an experienced clinician and previously served as the director of occupational therapy and nutrition development at Professional Child Development Associates, a private practice in Pasadena, Calif. She has worked extensively to support inclusion of individuals with intellectual disabilities, and has ongoing collaborations with the Special Olympics.

Karla Ausderau with Grace Baranek

Karla Ausderau with Associate Dean and Chair Grace Baranek (Photo by Danny Park)

The Patricia Buehler Legacy Award for Clinical Innovation is presented each year by the USC Chan Division in honor of the life’s work of Patricia “Pat” Buehler ’49. Buehler was a longtime supporter of all things Trojan occupational therapy. Her craft sample book, woven materials and original box-and-block test — tools for craft-based rehabilitation during the 1940s and ’50s — are housed at the USC Chan Archive at the Center for Occupation and Lifestyle Redesign.

Thanks to the generosity of the Patricia Buehler Administrative Trust, the Patricia Buehler Legacy Award for Clinical Innovation was established in 2008 in loving memory of Pat, with the intent to increase the visibility and applications of occupational science and of occupational therapy best practices.