Leonard Abbeduto, Ph.D.

Leonard Abbeduto, Ph.D.




Neurodevelopmental Disorders


  • Director, UC Davis MIND Institute
  • Tsakopoulos-Vismara Endowed Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences


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UC Davis MIND Institute

2825 50th St.
Sacramento, CA 95817
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Primary Phone:

Additional Phone Numbers

Phone: 916-703-0234

Research/Academic Interests

Leonard Abbeduto is director of the UC Davis MIND Institute and holds the Tsakopoulos-Vismara Endowed Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at UC Davis. He is a nationally recognized expert on the behavioral profiles of individuals with intellectual disabilities, with particular focus on the development and use of language by these individuals.

The MIND Institute was recently named an Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center. As one of only 15 such centers nationwide, the IDDRC is funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. IDDRCs promote multidisciplinary research and training focused on identifying gene-behavior relationships in neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as the treatment of these conditions.

Abbeduto’s research focuses broadly on the development of language across the lifespan in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and on the family context for language development. He also investigates the effects of stress on parents and caregivers who raise children with neurodevelopmental disorders, and how parent stress affects the behavior and development of their children.

Abbeduto’s research has been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health since 1996. He has published more than 130 articles, book chapters, reviews and books on fragile X, autism, Down syndrome and other disabilities and has delivered numerous presentations throughout the nation and the world.

Abbeduto serves as the editor of the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the flagship journal of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. He also directs the NIH-funded Interdisciplinary Training Conference on Developmental Disabilities, designed to foster an interdisciplinary approach to research on neurodevelopmental disorders in the next generation of scientists.

Current research projects in Abbeduto’s lab examine the feasibility of using samples of spoken language collected in naturalistic contexts as outcome measures in clinical trials. His lab also is developing a multimodal intervention, including both pharmacological and behavioral components, that will target the narrative language skills of 10- to 17-year olds with fragile X syndrome. The novel intervention will be delivered to participants through distance teleconferencing and will involve parents as the agents of change in delivering the intervention to their children.



Center/Program Affiliation

UC Davis MIND Institute


B.A., Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1975

M.A., Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1979

Ph.D., Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1982

Professional Memberships

American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Honors and Awards

Enid and William Rosen Research Award, National Fragile X Foundation, 2010

Fellow, American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities,

Kellett Mid-Career Research Award, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008

Emil H. Steiger Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1996

Distinguished Faculty Award, University of Wisconsin School of Education,

Select Recent Publications

Venker, C., McDuffie, A., Ellis Weismer, S., & Abbeduto, L. (in press). Increasing verbal responsiveness in parents of children with autism: A pilot study. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice.

Kover, S.T., McDuffie, A., Abbeduto, L., & Brown, W.T. (in press). Effects of sampling context on spontaneous expressive language in males with fragile X syndrome or Down syndrome. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.

Hartley, S., Seltzer, M.M., Head, L.S., & Abbeduto, L. (in press). Psychological well-being in fathers of adolescents/young adults with Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and autism. Family Relations.

Abbeduto, L., McDuffie, A., Brady, N., & Kover, S. (in press). Language development in fragile X syndrome: Syndrome-specific features, within-syndrome variation, and contributing factors. In Burack, J., Hodapp, R., & Zigler, E. Handbook of Mental Retardation and Development. Oxford University Press.

Abbeduto, L., Kover, S.T., & McDuffie, A. (in press). Studying the language development of children with intellectual disabilities. In E. Hoff (Ed.), Handbook of Child Language Research Methods. Blackwell.

Hartley, S., Seltzer, M.M., Smith, L., Hong, J., Greenberg, J., Almeida, D., Coe, C., & Abbeduto, L. (in press). Cortisol response to behavior problems in FMR1 premutation mothers of adolescents and adults with fragile X syndrome: A Diathesis-Stress Model. International Journal of Behavioral Development.

Smith, L., Barker, E., Seltzer, M., Abbeduto, L., & Greenberg, J. (2012). Behavioral phenotype of fragile X syndrome in adolescence and adulthood. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 117, 1-17.

McDuffie, A., Kover, S.T., Abbeduto, L., Lewis, P., and Brown, W.T. (2012). Profiles of receptive and expressive language in males with comorbid fragile X syndrome and autism. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 117, 18-32.

Finestack, L.H., Palmer, M., & Abbeduto, L. (2012). Macrostructural narrative language of adolescents and young adults with Down syndrome or fragile X syndrome. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 21, 29-46.

Pierpont, E.I., Richmond, E.K., Abbeduto, L., Kover, S.T., & Brown, W.T. (2011). Contributions of phonological and verbal working memory to language development in adolescents with fragile X syndrome. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 3, 335-347.

Oster-Granite, M.L., Parisi, M.A., Abbeduto, L., Berlin, D.S., Bodine, C., Bynum, D. et al. (2011) Conference proceedings: "Down syndrome: National conference on patient registries, research databases, and biobanks." Molecular Genetics and Metabolism, 104, 13-22.