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#Autism Researchers at @UofSC Can Discuss Range of Topics Related to April's Autism Awareness Month

Released: 3/28/2013 12:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: University of South Carolina
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University of South Carolina
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 disorders, 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 assistant professor of psychology, specializes in the early identification and diagnosis of autism and disorders that coexist with it, such as ones involving language, anxiety, attention or medical. She codirects the Autism Diagnostic Center at the university’s Psychology Services Center and develops and implements multidisciplinary training programs in autism for graduate students. In addition to diagnosing autism, Hills can discuss autism as it relates to school psychology, training and working with autistic children and post-diagnosis recommendations for families. Contact: Peggy Binette, 803-777-7704, peggy@mailbox.sc.edu

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, stenslan@mailbox.sc.edu

The Autism – Fragile X relationship
Jane Roberts, associate professor of psychology, is among a handful of researchers who study fragile X syndrome, a single-gene disorder that is the No. 1 known biological cause of autism. Among males, nearly 40 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, peggy@mailbox.sc.edu

Autism and genetics
Research has shown that autism is an inherited disease, and researchers now are focusing attention on identifying the genetic basis of autism. Dr. Ruth Abramson, who has a joint appointment in neuropsychiatry in the School of Medicine and communication science and disorders in the Arnold School of Public Health, is conducting research into genetic links to autism. She can also discuss general autism topics, including language and speech in autistic children, the ways autism is diagnosed and the frequency of autism diagnoses. Contact: Jeff Stensland, 803-777-3686, stenslan@mailbox.sc.edu

Autism and gender
When it comes to Autism Spectrum Disorders, 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 Disorders 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, stenslan@mailbox.sc.edu

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. He teaches a graduate-level course in the characteristics of individuals with autism and coordinates a five-course sequence leading to national board certification in behavior analysis. 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: Frenche Brewer, 803-777-3691, brewer4@mailbox.sc.edu

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: Frenche Brewer, 803-777-3691, brewer4@mailbox.sc.edu

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