Kathy Thiemann-Bourque, Ph.D.

Kathy Thiemann-Bourque, Ph.D.

Kathy Thiemann-Bourque, Ph.D.

Dr. Thiemann-Bourque's 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. She has established partnerships with local school districts, and works closely with staff to implement evidence-based practices with high fidelity. Her 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. Dr. Thiemann-Bourque has 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). She 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 is a co-investigator on a R01 funded to validate this scale. She is interested in addressing the lack of structured assessment tools for identifying peer-related social communication competencies in this population, and has investigated the sensitivity of the CCS to address this need. Her scholarly research program resulted in multiple peer-reviewed publications in highly ranked journals, and she shared outcomes locally, nationally, and internationally. Dr. Thiemann-Bourque has mentored many research assistants completing degrees at KU across different disciplines, served on thesis and dissertation committees, and provided grant writing guidance to early investigators at Juniper Gardens Children's Project.

Investigator Juniper Gardens Children's Project
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


Juniper Gardens Children's Project
444 Minnesota Avenue, Suite 300
Kansas City, KS 66101-2914

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.



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.


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