Autism faculty experts list

April is Autism Awareness Month and World Autism Awareness Day is April 2. To help reporters develop stories about autism spectrum disorder, the University of South Carolina has compiled a list of faculty experts. To interview a faculty member, contact the staff member listed with each expert.

Diagnosing Autism 

Kimberly Hills, a clinical associate professor of psychology, specializes in the identification and diagnosis of autism and disorders that coexist with it, such as ones involving language, anxiety, attention or medical. She directs the Autism Diagnostic Division at the university’s Psychology Services Center and implements multidisciplinary training in autism for graduate students.  In addition to diagnosing autism, Hills can discuss autism as it relates to school and clinical psychology, graduate training and post-diagnosis recommendations for families. Contact: Peggy Binette, 803-777-7704,

Dr. Desmond Kelly, is a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine-Greenville. Kelly also is medical director of the Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of the Greenville Health System and director of the DeLoache Fellowship in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics of the Children’s Hospital. He is currently involved in efforts to expand the Children’s Hospital’s autism program.  He also works on regional and national projects to promote healthy child development through the early identification of developmental problems and linkage of children and families with needed therapeutic and educational resources. Contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

Autism intervention

Erik Drasgow, professor of special education in the College of Education, is an expert in the area of communication intervention and positive behavior support for individuals with autism. Drasgow can discuss effective interventions for individuals with autism and can help parents and schools develop legally valid and educationally sound programs for students with autism. Contact: April Blake, 803-777-5984,

Autism and Families

Robert Hock, a professor in the College of Social Work, specializes in the impact of autism spectrum disorder on family life and best practices for supporting families across service systems. He has been engaged in clinical work and research with individuals with autism and their families for over nine years. He has designed and evaluated several parent interventions and facilitated a federally funded effort to help state agencies develop family centered services for youth, including those with autism. His current research focuses on understanding the factors that contribute to family adjustment, parent well-being and treatment engagement in families of children with autism spectrum disorder. Contact: April Blake, 803-777-5984,

The Autism – Fragile X relationship

Jane Roberts, professor of psychology, is among a handful of researchers who study autism-fragile X relationships.  Fragile X is a single-gene disorder that is the No. 1 known biological cause of autism.  Among males, nearly 75 percent of fragile X cases also are diagnosed with autism. Her research focuses on early detection methods among high risk populations. Roberts can discuss the link between autism and fragile X and her research to understand both. Contact: Peggy Binette, 803-777-7704,

Autism and gender

When it comes to autism spectrum disorder, boys are diagnosed at a much higher rate than girls. Boys are diagnosed with an autistic disorder three to four times more often than girls, and boys are diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome nine to 10 times more often. Dr. Alicia V. Hall is a licensed clinical psychologist who has been working in the field of autism spectrum disorder for 11 years as a researcher and clinician. Hall is on the clinical and research faculty in department of neuropsychiatry at the USC School of Medicine. She can discuss diagnosis and treatment of autism disorders, ethnic and gender differences in ASDs and criminal and civil justice issues with ASD patients. Contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686,

Autism and the language of music

Scott Price serves as professor of piano and piano pedagogy in the University of South Carolina School of Music and is the founder of the Carolina LifeSong Initiative. Carolina Lifesong provides piano lessons and music experiences for students with special needs, including autism. The initiative is dedicated in fostering best practices in teaching music to students with special needs. His work with special needs musicians has been featured nationally in the “Clavier Companion Magazine,” NBC’s “Dateline” and CNN. Contact:  Glenn Hare, 803-777-3685,

Autism programs 

Mitchell L. Yell is the Fred and Francis Lester Chair of Teacher Education and a professor of special education in the College of Education. He is a national expert in special education law and developing educationally meaningful and legally sound individual education programs (IEPs) for students with disabilities. He can discuss legal aspects of program development for students with autism, including the critical importance of conducting meaningful and relevant assessments, developing measurable goals and collecting data to monitor a student’s progress. Contact: April Blake, 803-777-5984,

Young children with autism 

Katie Wolfe is an assistant professor of special education in the College of Education.  She is a board certified behavior analyst with expertise in applied behavior analysis, early childhood special education, and research-based interventions for young children with autism.  She can discuss research-based interventions for students with autism, including those designed to address challenging behaviors and teach appropriate language and communication skills. Contact: April Blake, 803-777-5984,

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