University of South Carolina

USC Autism Faculty Experts List

Contact: Peggy Binette 803-777-5400

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 entry, or call the Office of Media Relations at 803-777-5400.

The Autism – Fragile X relationship

Dr. 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,

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: Megan Sexton,

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. Dr. 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: Megan Sexton,

Autism intervention

Dr. 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: Bond Nickles,

Autism programs

Dr. Mitchell L. Yell is the Fred and Francis Lester Chair of Teacher Education and a professor in the Program for 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: Bond Nickles,


By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 04/01/11 @ 4:00 PM | Updated: 10/13/11 @ 1:57 PM | Permalink



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