Autism Spectrum Disorders Institute


People


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Greg Allen

Dr. Greg Allen received his doctorate from the Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology at San Diego State University and The University of California, San Diego, which The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked as the top clinical psychology doctoral program in the country. Allen completed a predoctoral internship in clinical neuropsychology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and a postdoctoral residency in clinical neuropsychology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Following residency, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern before joining the faculty at UT Austin. As a licensed psychologist specializing in neuropsychological assessment, he has received specialized training and certification in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders. His research uses neuropsychological and neuroimaging tools to study the brain basis of autism. The current focus of this work is the investigation of cerebellar function and the contribution of cerebellar dysfunction to the behaviors and symptoms of autism. To contact Allen, visit the UT Austin Department of Educational Psychology website.


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Tonya Davis

Dr. Tonya Davis is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at Baylor University. Davis earned her doctorate in special education with a specialization in autism and developmental disabilities from The University of Texas at Austin. She is a board-certified behavior analyst – doctoral level (BCBA-D). Her research interests include the assessment and treatment of challenging behaviors and communication intervention among individuals with developmental disabilities. She has more than 10 years of experience working with individuals with developmental disabilities and their families as a researcher, special education teacher, and BCBA-D. To contact Davis, visit the Baylor University website.


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Terry S. Falcomata

Dr. Terry S. Falcomata is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Program. Falcomata earned his doctorate from the University of Iowa. His research emphasis is in applied behavior analysis and the application of its technologies in the home and school, primarily in the assessment and treatment of severe destructive behavior displayed by individuals with developmental disabilities and autism. This research has focused on the use of functional analysis methods and functional communication training in the assessment and treatment of destructive behaviors. His specific areas of interest currently include the generalization of effective treatments, the emergence of vocal communication during communication training, and the variables affecting the resurgence of destructive behavior following treatment. His other research interests include factors influencing choice (e.g., self-control, impulsivity), including the role of dimensions of reinforcement, and the application of stimulus equivalence methods for teaching skills to children with autism and other developmental disabilities. To contact Falcomata, visit the UT Austin Department of Special Education website.


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Russell Lang

Dr. Russell Lang is an assistant professor of special education at Texas State University–San Marcos and a BCBA-D. Lang earned a doctoral degree in special education with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis and early childhood developmental disabilities from The University of Texas at Austin. He completed a postdoctoral researcher position at the University of California in Santa Barbara. He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed research papers and multiple book chapters concerning the education and treatment of children with autism and other developmental disabilities. His primary research interest is the treatment of problematic and challenging behaviors in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. His research is most often conducted in applied settings, including children’s homes and schools. He serves on the editorial review boards for Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and Developmental Neurorehabilitation. To contact Lang, visit the Texas State website.


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Ann Levine

Dr. Ann Levine, a neuropsychologist, completed her Psy.D. at the University of Denver. Levine completed her fellowship in autism at the School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina and completed a fellowship in pediatric neuropsychology at the New England Medical Center at Tufts University School of Medicine. She first worked with children with autism spectrum disorders and their families at the Yale Child Study Center. Since then, she has worked in psychiatric inpatient facilities, academic medical centers, managed care organizations, and in both public and private schools, helping medically fragile children and those with psychiatric difficulties, learning difficulties, and developmental disabilities. Prior to joining the faculty at the Texas Child Study Center, she was a supervising neuropsychologist at the University of Washington’s Autism Center. She specializes in early identification of children with autism, using parent- and child-focused interventions to help young autistic children expand their skills and to decrease anxiety and depression in adolescents. To contact Levine, visit the Dell Children's Medical Center website.


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Amanda Little

Dr. Amanda Little is an assistant professor in the area of early childhood in the Department of Special Education. Little received her doctorate from the University of Kansas and master of education with an emphasis in early childhood and autism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She is a BCBA-D and has many years of experience working with young children who engage in challenging behavior and their families. Her research interests include using applied behavior analysis, positive behavior supports, and intervention strategies that support children and families in the contexts of home, school, and the community. To contact Little, visit the UT Austin Department of Special Education website.


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Mandy Rispoli

Dr. Mandy Rispoli is an assistant professor of special education at Texas A&M University and a BCBA-D. Rispoli earned her doctorate in special education with a concentration in autism and developmental disabilities from The University of Texas at Austin. She has published more than 47 peer-reviewed research articles and two book chapters concerning the education of children with autism and developmental disabilities. Her primary research focus pertains to function-based antecedent interventions for challenging behavior in children with autism spectrum disorders. Her work in this area explores the role of variables that may alter a child’s motivation to engage in challenging behaviors during behavioral assessments and interventions. She serves on the editorial review board for Assessment for Effective Intervention. To contact Rispoli, visit the Texas A&M website.


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Nina Zuna

Dr. Nina Zuna is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education in the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Program. Zuna earned her master’s in special education with an emphasis in low-incidence disabilities from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and her doctorate in special education with an emphasis in families and disability policy from the University of Kansas at Lawrence. She has more than 10 years of experience working with children with disabilities and their families as a researcher, certified special education teacher, and in-home and in-school behavioral skills therapist. Her research interests include family quality of life, family supports and services, social/emotional development in children with autism, and social skills interventions. To contact Zuna, visit the UT Austin Department of Special Education website.





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Johny Daniel


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Cindy Gevarter

Cindy Gevarter is a doctoral student in the UT Austin Department of Special Education with a concentration in early childhood special education. Gevarter earned her bachelor of arts in psychology and her master of teaching in special education at the University of Virginia. After graduating, she taught special education in New York City for 5 years, primarily working with young children with autism spectrum disorder. During her time as a teacher, she also became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. In addition to her classroom teaching experience, she has more than 2 years of experience providing home-based behavioral therapy and supervising master's students in an early childhood intervention program. Her research interests center on implementing augmentative and alternative communication systems with young nonvocal indviduals and integrating technology into evidence-based practices for young learners with autism spectrum disorder and related developmental disabilities.


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Heather Gonzales

Heather Gonzales is a doctoral student in the Department of Special Education, studying autism and developmental disabilities. Gonzales holds an M.Ed. from The University of Texas at Austin in the same area and an M.A.T. in early childhood education from Trinity University. She is a board-certified behavior analyst and has done behavior therapy for children with autism in the Austin area since 2010. Her research interest is the presentation and treatment of anxiety in individuals with autism who have limited verbal ability.


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Katherine Hoffman


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Mark Jacoby


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Irene Jones

Irene Jones is a doctoral student in the UT Austin Department of Special Education with a concentration in autism and developmental disabilities. Jones earned her bachelor of arts degree in psychology from New Mexico State University, Las Cruces and her master’s degree in school psychology with a concentration in special education from Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos. She is a licensed specialist in school psychology with more than 10 years of experience working with children with special needs. She has been working in the schools as an autism specialist and with families as an in-home and behavior specialist since 2006. Her research interests include interventions to increase adaptive behavior functioning and decrease challenging behavior of individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.


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Michelle Kuhn

Michelle Kuhn is a doctoral student in the UT Austin Department of Special Education with a concentration in autism and developmental disabilities. Kuhn earned her bachelor of science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in human development and family studies, specializing in child development, and her master of education at the same university with a focus in early childhood and special education. She has more than 5 years of professional experience as a developmental therapist, working in home, school, and clinic settings with extensive experience working both on an individual level and in group settings. Her research interests include reducing stereotypy and challenging behaviors and increasing play skills in individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
 


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Katherine Ledbetter-Cho

Katherine Ledbetter-Cho is a doctoral student in special education with a concentration in autism and developmental disabilities at The University of Texas. She holds a bachelor of science degree in special education from the University of Georgia and a master of science degree in autism and applied behavior analysis from Texas State University. Her primary research interests include parent training and interventions designed to improve the communication and play skills of children with autism.


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Deanna Longino

Deanna Longino is a doctoral student in the Department of Special Education with a concentration in autism and developmental disabilities. Longino earned her bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Millsaps College and her master of science degree in communicative disorders from Jackson State University. She is a licensed speech language pathologist who has experience working with children and adults with mild to profound medical and communicative disabilities. Her research interests include augmentative and alternative communication and challenging behavior in children with multiple disabilities.


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Colin Muething

Colin S. Muething is a doctoral student in the Department of Educational Psychology. His research interests involve the assessment and treatment of challenging behavior in individuals with developmental disabilities. 


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Laura Rojeski

Laura Rojeski is a doctoral student in the Department of Special Education with a concentration in autism and developmental disabilities. Rojeski earned her bachelor of arts in psychology and her master of education in special education with a focus on autism and developmental disabilities. She is a board-certified behavior analyst with 6 years of experience working with children with autism and other disabilities both in the home and in clinic settings. She has experience as a direct therapist and as a supervisor, training and supervising master's-level students and overseeing program implementation. Her research interests center on motivating operations and expanding the research in this area to include applied approaches to motivating operation interventions.


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Nicolette Sammarco


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Cayenne Shpall

Cayenne Shpall is a doctoral student in the UT Austin Department of Special Education with a concentration in autism and developmental disabilities. Shpall earned her bachelor of science degree in psychology and education from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her master’s degree in special education with concentrations in autism and developmental disabilities from The University of Texas at Austin. She has more than 5 years of experience working as an in-home and school behavior specialist, specializing in applied behavior analysis. Her research interests include interventions to increase appropriate, functional behavior skills and decrease challenging behavior for children with autism spectrum disorders.


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Bryant Silbaugh

Bryant Silbaugh is a doctoral student in the UT Austin Department of Special Education with a concentration in autism and developmental disabilities. Silbaugh earned his bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the University of California, San Diego in 2005 and his master of arts degree in psychology from San Diego State University in 2008. He earned his BCBA following completion of coursework at Florida Institute of Technology in May 2012 after working for multiple ABA service delivery agencies in southern California as a behavioral technician and supervisor. As a behavioral supervisor, he designed and supervised behavior intervention programming for children with autism ages 2–18 in homes, schools, and a clinic setting, and was extensively involved in the development of staff training modules and systems for assessing staff performance with clients. He is broadly interested in applied, translational, and cross-disciplinary behavior analytic research on intensive behavioral intervention for children with autism and other developmental disorders.


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Paul Steinle


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Laci Watkins

Laci Watkins is a doctoral student in the UT Austin Department of Special Education with a concentration in autism and developmental disabilities. Watkins holds a bachelor of arts degree from Columbia University and a master of letters degree from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. As a New York City Teaching Fellow, she earned a master of science degree in special education from Mercy College. She has more than 6 years of experience working with students with autism spectrum disorders, both as a classroom teacher and as a Special Education Teacher Support Services provider in an inclusive setting. Her research interests include interventions to improve communication skills and social skills in individuals of all ages with autism spectrum disorders. She also has an interest in inclusive practices in special education.