Cynthia Cress, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders

Cynthia Cress’ specialty areas include language development and disorders, early intervention, augmentative and alternative communication, and severe disabilities. She teaches undergraduate courses in language disorders and bilingual/bicultural language assessment/intervention and graduate courses on Early Communication Intervention Birth-3 years and Severe Disabilities/Autism.

Cress has conducted research on communication development in infants/toddlers with physical and neurological impairments who are at risk for being nonspeaking. Results of her NIH-funded longitudinal research demonstrate distinctly different patterns of communication development in children with limited use of their voice and/or hands. Her home-based research and clinical work with families has formed the basis for new models of instruction for children with these types of disabilities as well as pilot versions of unique communication assessment tools and intervention models. She has collaborated with colleagues at UNL and nationally on several NIH grant projects looking at speech assessment and intervention for typically developing children as well as children with disabilities.

Cress has completed several NIH grants addressing assessment of infant communication, and is currently conducting NIH-funded research to collect national norming data for two infant communication assessments she is developing. The Communication in Infants and Social Screener (CISS) is a screener to detect communication risk in infants at 2-12 months and the Infant Social and Communication Behavior Scales (ISCBS) is a comprehensive play-based assessment of communication risk in infants 2-12 months. Current results of follow-up testing of infants at 3 years show clear indications of differences in infant communication patterns for children who later demonstrate communication impairments such as autism or language disorders.

Cress received her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in communication disorders.