Faculty profile

Susan Ellis Weismer

Susan Ellis Weismer

Dept. of Communicative Disorders

Lab: 473 Waisman Center
(608) 263-8861


Research Keywords

language disorders, language development, language processing, language and cognition, specific language impairment, late talkers, autism


  • Department of Communicative Disorders, Professor
  • Waisman Center, Investigator
  • Associate Dean for Research for the College of Letters and Science
  • Department of Psychology, affiliate
  • Department of Educational Psychology - Human Development, affiliate

Current Projects

  • Language Processes Lab, Waisman Center
  • Principle Investigator, Toddler Talk Project (NIH R01)
  • Principle Investigator, Interdisciplinary Research Training in Speech and Language Pathology (NIH T32)
  • Mentoring faculty on mental retardation post-doctoral training grant (PI Len Abbeduto)
  • Mentoring faculty on post-doctoral training grant on behavioral and biological basis of language in typical and atypical populations (PI Morton Gernsbacher)

Research Collaborators

Representative Classes

  • Com Dis 440: Child Language Disorders, Assessment & Intervention
  • Com Dis 900: Grant Writing and Professional Development Seminar
  • Com Dis 940: Intervention Issues in Child Language Disorders
  • Com Dis 940: Language and Cognition

Research Statement

My research is focused on comparing the developmental course and nature of language processing in children with various types of language delay or disorders compared to children with typical language development. To date, most of my published research has focused on toddlers with late onset of language development ('late talkers') and children and adolescents with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) who exhibit substantial language deficits in the absence of other accompanying problems such as hearing impairment, mental retardation, or social-emotional disturbance.

A new NIH-funded longitudinal project will characterize early language and communication skills in children on the autism spectrum compared to late talkers without autism. The goal of this research is to address theoretical issues concerning the dimensional vs. distinct category account of language disorders and to inform practical issues related to early differential diagnosis and predictors of language outcome.

Selected Publications

  • Leonard, L., Ellis Weismer, S., Miller, C., Francis, D., Tomblin, J.B., & Kail, R. (In press). Speed of processing, working memory, and language impairment in children. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.
  • Ellis Weismer, S. Language and communication on the autism spectrum. To appear in Genes, Brain and Development: The Neurocognition of Genetic Disorders, M. Barnes (Ed.), Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Moyle, M.J., Ellis Weismer, S, Lindstrom, M., & Evans, J. (In press). Longitudinal relationships between lexical and grammatical development in typical and late talking children. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.
  • Ellis Weismer, S. (In press). The influence of developmental perspectives on research and practice in communicative disorders: A festschrift for Robin Chapman, in Typical talkers, late talkers, and children with specific language impairment: A language endowment spectrum? R. Paul (Ed.), Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Ellis Weismer, S. (2005). Speech perception in specific language impairment (pp. 567-588), in Handbook of Speech Perception. D. Pisoni and R. Remez (Eds.), Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers
  • Ellis Weismer, S., Plante, E., Jones, M., & Tomblin, J.B. (2005). A functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation of verbal working memory in adolescents with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 48, 405-425.