Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D. (Lead Principal Investigator) is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and an Investigator at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development. Dr. Taylor is an international leader in the study of how to improve the transition to adulthood and adult outcomes for individuals on the autism spectrum. With over 70 peer-reviewed publications, she has made important discoveries about the challenges many individuals face on the autism spectrum after leaving high school and the importance of engaging in meaningful work for positive behavioral development. She is working to leverage these findings into new programs – such as ASSIST – to support individuals on the autism spectrum and their families as they transition to adulthood. She regularly provides expertise in transition and adult-related issues to federal autism committees and initiatives.
Meghan Burke, Ph.D., BCBA-D (Site Principal Investigator) is an Associate Professor of Special Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include parent advocacy, families (i.e., parents and siblings) of individuals with significant disabilities, and disability policy. Dr. Burke's research examines how parents advocate for services for their offspring with disabilities. She developed the Volunteer Advocacy Program, which trains advocates about special education law. Dr. Burke adapted this program into the Volunteer Advocacy Program – Transition (VAP-T), which teaches parents about the adult service system. The VAP-T is the intervention on which ASSIST is based. Additionally, Dr. Burke conducts research examining how siblings of individuals with disabilities transition to caregiving roles.
Leann Smith DaWalt, Ph.D. (Site Principal Investigator) is the Director of the UCEED (University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities) at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, and a Senior Scientist at the Waisman Center. Dr. Smith DaWalt's research focuses on understanding the impact of having a child with a developmental disability on the family as well as the role of the family and community in supporting healthy development for individuals with disabilities such as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and fragile X syndrome (FXS).
Robert Hodapp, Ph.D. (Consultant) is an Associate Professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Hodapp's current research interests include the developmental approach to intellectual disability, mother-child interactions with children with disabilities, and development in children with fragile X syndrome, Down syndrome, and other genetic disorders of intellectual disability. Also, in his role as Director of Research for the Center's UCEDD, Dr. Hodapp oversees the basic and applied research programs that are conducted as part of the UCEDD. He develops the UCEDD's research agenda in consultation with the UCEDD Operating Committee and the Community Advisory Council.
Carol Rabideau, LCSW (ASSIST Intervention Development Team Lead) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. With over 22 years of experience in mental health counseling, medical social work, supervision, and training, Ms. Rabideau provides future planning workshops as well as training on other topics. She provides assessments, crisis intervention, brief counseling, and referral services to individuals and families with developmental disabilities throughout their lifespan. Ms. Rabideau led the efforts to develop the ASSIST curriculum and served as the Tennessee-site facilitator for the program.