Prof. Connie Kasari

Prof. Connie Kasari

Professor of Human Development and Psychology at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

Professor Connie is a professor of Human Development and Psychology at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychiatry, UCLA, USA. Professor Kasari is one of the world’s leading experts in autism research and treatment.

She has Post-Doctoral Fellow Neuropsychiatric Institute UCLA after obtaining PhD from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA

She studied the social and communicative abilities of children. Her research aims to develop novel, targeted interventions to improve social and communicative development in children with autism, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.  Her current research focuses on infants and toddlers at risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), minimally verbal and highly verbal children with ASD, and children with complex neurodevelopmental disorders (Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, Down syndrome).  Interventions are mediated through therapists, teachers, paraprofessionals and parents and in community contexts, such as schools and homes.  Much of her work focuses on under-represented populations in research (low income and minority children, girls with ASD, minimally verbal children), and she uses sophisticated intervention methodologies, such as sequential multiple assignment randomized trials (SMART designs) and community partnered participatory research methods (CPPR). The goal of this work is to determine the most effective interventions that can be deployed and sustained in the community.

She is the head of The Kasari Lab established in 1997 by Dr. Connie Kasari, part of the Center for Autism Research and Treatment and the Graduate school of Education in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles. It offers diagnostic assessments, treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and opportunities to participate in research studies.



Short Description of the Lectures:

1. Early Intervention/Parents Training in Low Resource Setting
Early interventions have proven effective for the vast majority of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  The most effective interventions target social communication skills, and involve parents.  However, not all families have access to quality early interventions, and trained professionals.  For families in low resourced settings, or who live far from specialty centers, other methods for delivering early intervention are needed.  This talk will describe distance delivery methods of an evidence based early intervention to both professionals and families of children with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

2. Minimally Verbal Children With ASD: Integrating Technology Into Intervention
About 30 to 50% of children with ASD are not verbally fluent by age 6 years, according to estimates based in the US. Nearly all children in the US have access to early intervention, so these percentages remain a concern. Minimally verbal children are also not often involved in research studies, so we have less information on how best to assess and intervene on communication and language goals for optimal outcomes. This talk will describe efforts to involve minimally verbal younger and older children in research studies. Assessments and intervention approaches will be described, as well as the inclusion of assistive technology (alternative and augmentative communication devices) for the promotion of communication and spoken language.

3. Children with ASD at School: Inclusion, Integration, and Improvement
Behavioral interventions have been critical for improving the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Notable achievements include the improved numbers of children with optimal outcomes, and the larger number of children accessing the regular curriculum. Despite these gains, our school programs often fall short of achieving complete social integration and optimal outcomes of many children with ASD. In part this is due to the vast heterogeneity of children with ASD. Some children enter school still learning language, while others are very verbal but have difficulties fitting into the social structures of school. School staff must effectively address the needs of all children. This talk will focus on school based social integration strategies and the social skills of students with ASD. Studies will be discussed highlighting what teachers and paraprofessionals can do to improve child outcomes.

4. Reflection Session: Panel Discussion