CARE Lab Recent Publications

Recent Publications


Publications in 2024

Measuring Teacher Talk and the Behavior of Autistic Students Within Preschool Through Third-Grade Special Education Mathematics Activities

Authors: Nicole Sparapani, Sandy Birkeneder, Laurel Towers,  Johanna Vega Garcia, Cindy Parks, Nancy Tseng, Helen Fann, Jennifer Bullen, and Amanda Dimachkie Nunnally

Members of the CARE lab recently published a paper in Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. The study examines the talk that special education teachers use within mathematics activities, proposing a 5-factor measurement model. Findings also highlight teachers’ overuse of non-task directive language to direct or redirect autistic students’ behavior and attention–which was linked to student emotion dysregulation. Read the full article here!

Social network support is associated with teacher’s perceptions of transition planning for their autistic students

Authors: Amanda Dimachkie Nunnally, Heather Nuske, Briana Bronstein, Fernanda Castellon, Jenny C. Chiappe, Consuelo Garcia, Samantha Hochheimer, Hyon Soo Lee, Nicole Sparapani, Sarah Vejnoska, Amber R. Fitzgerald, Lynne Levato, Jennica Li, Felicia Jones, Wendy Shih, Suzannah Iadarola, David S. Mandell, Tristram Smith, Aubyn Stahmer, Sheryl Kataoka, Connie Kasari, and Elizabeth McGhee Hassrick

Amanda Dimachkie Nunnally and colleagues recently published a paper in the journal Science Direct. They examined teacher and student factors contributing to teachers’ perceptions of transition planning for autistic students. Across four sites (Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Rochester, and Sacramento), 126 teachers responded to survey questions regarding their perception of transition planning for autistic students, their students’ classroom behavior as they were preparing to transition, their own burnout, and a social network survey about the people they relied on to support their autistic students. They found that teachers reported being somewhat satisfied with their schools with the way schools prepared their students for transition and that the transition planning was somewhat effective. Also, teachers reported they received little support from their schools during their students’ transition planning. Results of Generalized Linear Mixed Effects models indicated that teachers with positive perceptions of their students’ transition planning had larger support networks. The knowledge gained from this study contributes to the understanding that teachers’ support networks play an essential role in helping teachers negotiate the transition process. You can read the whole paper here!

Publications in 2023

Factors Associated with Classroom Participation in Preschool through Third Grade Learners on the Autism Spectrum

Authors: Sparapani, N., Tseng, N., Towers, L., Birkeneder, S., Kamiri, S, Vega Garcia, J., Alexander, C., Wood, T., & Nullally, A.D.

Sparapani, Tseng, and colleagues recently published a manuscript in the journal, Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders (RASD). They evaluated classroom video observations to better understand the mathematics learning opportunities provided to autistic learners in preschool through 3rd grade. Their study highlights the link between the classroom environment and the experiences autistic students have within mathematics contexts by examining how teachers (with a range of knowledge, skills, and practices) teach mathematics lessons, and how individual students engage in the opportunities created for them. The knowledge gained from this study contributes to the development of optimized instructional practices for learners on the autism spectrum. Read the full article here!

The Construct Validity of the Childhood Joint Attention Rating Scale (C-JARS) with School-Aged Autistic Children

Authors: Birkeneder, S., Bullen, J., McIntyre, N., Zajic, M., Lerroe, C., Solomon, M., Sparapani, N. & Mundy, P

Sandy Birkeneder and colleagues recently published a manuscript in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (JADD) examining the psychometric properties of the C-JARS measure. You can read the full article here!

Publications in 2022

Bringing Assessment-to-Instruction (A2i) Technology to Scale: Exploring the Process from Development to Implementation

In collaboration with Carol McDonald Connor, Nicole Sparapani and colleagues examined the promise of Assessment-to-Instruction (A2i) technology redesigned to be used at scale to support teachers’ implementation of the individualized student instruction (ISI) intervention from kindergarten through third grade. This study represents both an exploration of what it takes to bring an educational intervention to scale and a quasi-experiment on the literacy outcomes of learners whose teachers used the technology. You can read the full article here! 

Authors. Connor, May, Sparapani, Kyoung Hwang, Adams, Wood, Siegal, Wolfe, & Day. (April 2022). Bringing Assessment-to-Instruction (A2i) Technology to Scale: Exploring the Process from Development to Implementation. Journal of Educational Psychology

Tribute to Dr. Carol McDonald Connor: Dr. Carol Connor passed away May 14, 2020 while revising this manuscript. True to her diligent nature, she worked until the day before she passed away after battling cancer. Implementing Assessment-to-Instruction (A2i) in schools across the nation was Dr. Connor’s dream, as her life’s work was centered on ensuring that all students read proficiently by the 3rd grade. She developed the Individualized Student Instruction (ISI) framework and patented the algorithms that drive A2i, publishing her first of many randomized controlled trials in 2005 to support this work. Dr. Connor has made extraordinary impact both nationally and internationally. She truly touched the lives of everyone who had the honor to cross her path. Her legacy will live on through the mentees and colleagues that have had the privilege of knowing and working with her and through A2i, as educators across the nation use the technology to individualize instruction for their students. Most importantly, her legacy will live on through the many children that have and will continue to benefit from ISI and A2i. Dr. Carol Connor did not work hard for accolades. This became increasingly apparent as her time was running out. What she worked for, was the future of others. She will be deeply missed everyday but never forgotten.  

The Development of a Social-Sexual Education Program for Adults with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities: Starting the Discussion 

Pedgrift & Sparapani recently published a manuscript in the journal, Sexuality and Disability. The study provides support for the social-sexual education (SSE) tool to teach people with neurodevelopmental disabilities how to create safe and meaningful relationships while also giving them information about sexual abuse and coercion. Click here to read the article spotlight. You can read the full article here!

Measurements of Spontaneous Communication Initiations in Children with Autism in Preschool through Third Grade Classrooms 

Birkeneder & Sparapani published an article in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (JADD) proposing a model for conceptualizing and measuring communication initiations in children with autism within classrooms. Check out the paper here!

Publications in 2021

Evaluating Teacher Language Within General and Special Education Classrooms Serving Elementary Students with Autism

Nicole Sparapani & colleagues recently published a manuscript in the Journal of Autism and Related Disorders (JADD) examining how teachers and paraprofessionals in 126 kindergarten-second grade classrooms talked with their 194 students with autism, and further, how individual student characteristics in language, autism symptoms, and social abilities influenced this talk. You can read the full article here!

Authors: Sparapani, Reinhardt, Hooker, Morgan, Schatschneider, & Wetherby, 2021, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities

What Are the Odds?: Predicting the Likelihood of a Negative Episode in a Sample of Toddlers with ASD

Congratulations to Amanda Dimachkie Nunnally, postdoctoral scholar, recently published her 1st first-author manuscript in the international journal, Autism!! In this study, Amanda and colleagues evaluated emotion dysregulation in 71 toddlers with ASD while working on a task with their caregivers. See the full article here.

Emotion Regulation Skills Predict Friendship Quality in Children with Autism

Nicole Sparapani & Amanda Dimachkie Nunnally co-authored a manuscript recently published in the International Journal of Developmental Disorders. This manuscript is a joint collaboration between UC Davis, the University of Pennsylvania, UCLA, and the University of Rochester.

Authors: Heather J. Nuske, Wendy Shih, Nicole J. Sparapani, Lauren Baczewski, Amanda Dimachkie Nunnally, Samantha Hochheimer, Consuelo Garcia, Fernanda Castellon, Lynne Levato, Erin Fischer, Zabryna Atkinson-Diaz, Jennica Li, David S. Mandell, and Connie Kasari 

Project Description: Within this project, we evaluated the association among self-regulation, mental health, and friendship quality in a sample of 106 children with autism between 5–12 years of age. We found a positive predicative association between self-regulatory skills and social companionship. In addition, difficulties with self-regulation were associated with increased conflict. These data highlight the importance of self-regulation and mental health as intervention targets for school-aged children with autism. 

Publications in 2020

Secondary Analysis of Interactions Between Students with Autism and Their Interventionists within a Scripted Reading Curriculum

Sparapani and co-authors, Solari, Towers, McIntyre, Henry, and Zajic, published a paper in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research evaluating the language used within a pilot reading intervention for children with autism. Read the article. 

Students’ Problem Behaviors and Teachers’ Warmth, Responsiveness, and Classroom Control as Predictors of Students’ Classroom Instructional Experiences in First Grade

Sparapani co-authored a paper examining students’ instructional experiences in 1st grade. The manuscript was published in Contemporary Education Psychology. (McLean, L., Sparapani, N., Day, S., Connor, C.M., 2020). Read the article.​​

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