Office of Epidemiology and Research, Division of Research

Advancing Applied MCH Research


Dr. Connie Kasari

Dr. Connie Kasari

Broken Bridges -- New School Transitions for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review on Difficulties and Strategies for Success

Autism Intervention Research Network on Behavioral Health (AIR-B) researchers conducted a systematic review synthesizing research findings on the difficulties that school transitions pose for students with autism spectrum disorder and their parents and teachers, and the strategies used to support students and parents during school transition. The review was led by Heather Nuske, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research, University of Pennsylvania, senior authors Professors Tristram Smith, PhD, University of Rochester and Connie Kasari (AIR-B Principal Investigator), PhD, UCLA, and the other Principal Investigators on the team: Peter Mundy, PhD, UC Davis; David Mandell, ScD, University of Pennsylvania; Aubyn Stahmer, PhD, UC Davis; and Elizabeth McGhee Hassrick, PhD, Drexel University. It included 27 studies (10 examining the transition to primary school, 17 the transition to secondary school), with data from 443 students with autism spectrum disorder, 453 parents, and 546 teachers, across four continents (North America, Europe, Africa, and Australia). Studies reported that children with autism spectrum disorder struggled with anxiety and increased social pressure, their parents felt overwhelmed with complex placement decisions and worried about the well-being of their children, and teachers strove to provide appropriate supports to their students with autism spectrum disorder, often with inadequate resources. Findings indicated that the most useful strategies involved helping the student adjust to the new school setting, individualizing transition supports, clarifying the transition process for parents, and fostering communication both between the sending and receiving schools, and school and home.

MCHB Grant #: UA3MC11055 Autism Intervention Research Network on Behavioral Health (AIR-B)


Nuske HJ, McGhee Hassrick E, Bronstein B, Hauptman L, Aponte C, Levato L,Stahmer A, Mandell DS, Mundy P, Kasari C, Smith T. Broken bridges-new school transitions for students with autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review on difficulties and strategies for success. Autism. 2018 Feb 1. doi: 10.1177/1362361318754529. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29458258.

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A Significant Percentage of Severely Injured U.S. Children Are Treated at Nontrauma Centers

In the United States, regionalized trauma systems have been developed and promoted to improve patient outcomes and optimize the use of hospital resources. Severely injured children should receive the highest level of trauma care available, found at level I or level II trauma centers. But 1 out of every 5 severely injured American children is treated at level III trauma centers or non-trauma centers without transfer to a higher level trauma center, according to a new study published by Henry Xiang, Director of the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the senior author of the study, and Jin Peng, PhD candidate at the Ohio State University. Children living in rural areas are particularly likely to be undertriaged. Severely injured patients have a significant higher risk of death or adverse outcomes when treated at level III or nontrauma centers without transfer to level I or level II trauma centers. These findings highlight the importance of developing innovative service delivery models, including telemedicine and a trauma triage mobile app, to reduce undertriage and improve outcomes for severely injured children.

MCHB Grant #: R40MC29448 (SDAS) Emergency Medical Care of Severely Injured US Children


Peng J, Wheeler K, Groner JI, Haley KJ, Xiang H. Undertriage of Pediatric Major Trauma Patients in the United States. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2017;56(9):845-853. doi: 10.1177/0009922817709553. PubMed PMID: 28516800.

Effects of Propranolol on Conversational Reciprocity in Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot, Double-Blind, Single-Dose Psychopharmacological Challenge Study

Rachel Zamzow

Rachel Zamzow

University of Missouri researchers have found that a medication commonly used to treat high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats may have the potential to improve some social functions of individuals with autism. Led by David Beversdorf, M.D., associate professor in the departments of radiology, neurology and psychological sciences at MU and the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, and senior author of the study, and Rachel Zamzow, graduate student with the MU Center for Translational Neuroscience, 20 individuals with autism were recruited from the MU Thompson Center and given either a 40-milligram dose of propranolol or a placebo pill. An hour after administration, the researchers had a structured conversation with the participants, scoring their performance on six social skills necessary to maintain a conversation: staying on topic, sharing information, reciprocity or shared conversation, transitions or interruptions, nonverbal communication and maintaining eye contact. The researchers found the total communication scores were significantly greater when the individual took propranolol compared to the placebo. Subsequent research is needed to study the effects of more than one dose in a clinical trial setting. However, these preliminary results suggest the possibility of an inexpensive, widely available agent for treatment of autism that could also benefit access to treatment for the underserved.

MCHB Grant #: R40MC19926 Predictors of effects of propranolol on language & connectivity in autism.


Zamzow RM, Ferguson BJ, Stichter JP, Porges EC, Ragsdale AS, Lewis ML, Beversdorf DQ. Effects of propranolol on conversational reciprocity in autism spectrum disorder: A pilot, double-blind, single-dose psychopharmacological challenge study [published online January 14 2016]. Psychopharmacology. 2016. doi: 10.1007/s00213-015-4199-0

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