Autism Awareness: 2019 UofSC faculty experts list

April is Autism Awareness Month and 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.

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 more than 11 years. Hock 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. Hock has developed a program called Autism Parent Navigatiors, which allows parents of children with ASD make home visits to other parents whose children have just received a diagnois. 

News contact: Chris Woodley,; 803-777-9434. 

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 assessing and diagnosing autism, Hills can discuss autism as it relates to school and clinical psychology, graduate training and post-diagnosis recommendations for families.

News contact: Sally McKay,; 803-777-1362. 

Autism intervention

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 individuals with autism. She can discuss evidence-based practices for students with autism, including those designed to address challenging behaviors and teach appropriate language and communication skills.

News contact: Kathryn McPhail,; 803-777-8841.

Jessica Bradshaw, an assistant professor of psychology and licensed clinical psychologist, directs the Early Social Development and Intervention Lab at the University of South Carolina. Her research focuses on early identification and intervention for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in infancy. She studies very early social behavior, visual attention and motor skills in neonates, infants and toddlers. Bradshaw also specializes in naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions (NDBIs) for infants and toddlers with or at risk for ASD and is interested in using eye tracking to identify both parent and child predictors of treatment response and using these predictors to better individualize treatment.

News contact: Sally McKay,; 803-777-1362. 

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.

News contact: Carol Ward,; 803-777-7704.

Autism and fragile X

Jane Roberts, professor of psychology, is among a handful of researchers in the world 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. She runs the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Lab at the Univeristy of South Carolina, and 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.

News contact: Sally McKay,; 803-777-1362.

Jessica Klusek, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders in the Arnold School of Public Health, studies communication disorders associated with autism and fragile X syndrome. Klusek’s work adopts a family approach, where she looks at broader profiles among family members that are linked to genetic risk. She is specifically interested in carriers of fragile X syndrome, who have a genetic mutation known as FMR1 premutation.

News contact: Erin Bluvas,; 843-302-1681. 

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