Sandra Vanegas, Ph.D.

Sandra Vanegas, Ph.D.

Research Associate

Sandra Vanegas, PhD., is a developmental psychologist and research associate in the Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Lab directed by professor Sandy Magaña. Vanegas’s early research focused on language development in young children from diverse bilingual communities (English/Spanish, English/Urdu). This work helps inform developmental pathways of language learning in typically developing children and supports the development of culturally-informed educational strategies for children with diverse language experiences. Vanegas’s research has also focused on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and neurodevelopmental disabilities. Her dissertation research examined cognitive theories of information-processing in children with ASD, finding distinct patterns emerge within the ASD spectrum. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Illinois Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program where she focused on addressing the needs of underserved and under-researched communities. Currently, with Magaña, Vanegas has co-developed a parent education and social communication intervention program that targets families of children at risk for developmental delays who reside in low-resource households. Additional research is examining language and executive functioning in children with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disabilities who have monolingual or bilingual language experience. The central aim of her research is to develop culturally informed educational and clinical practices that will ameliorate disparities affecting children and families from underserved communities.

Professional Interests

Child Development, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Neurodevelopmental Disabilities, Disparities in Diagnosis and Treatment, Language Development


  • Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, Loyola University Chicago
  • M.S., Human Development and Early Childhood Disorders, University of Texas at Dallas
  • B.A., Psychology, Comparative Literature, University of Rochester


Social Work Building (SSW)


Mailing Address

The University of Texas at Austin
Steve Hicks School of Social Work
1925 San Jacinto Blvd 3.116c
STOP D3510
Austin, TX 78712-0358