• Ph.D. 2007 – Indiana University, Bloomington, Special Education
  • M.Ed. 2002 – Arizona State University, Educational Psychology
  • B.S. 1995 – University of Evansville, Special Education

Areas of Expertise

  • Classroom and home-based intervention strategies for young children, school-age children, and adolescents with developmental disabilities
  • Use of structured teaching strategies with individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD)
  • Professional development and implementation support for special education service providers
  • Identification, review, and evaluation of evidence based practices for individuals with ASD


Kara Hume’s journey to connect with and support the autism community began in high school when a service learning assignment gave her the opportunity to explore her interest in special education. She responded to a flyer for a family looking for assistance with their child with autism. At just 16 years old, she had found her calling.

Dr. Hume has worked with children and young adults on the autism spectrum for almost 30 years in a variety of capacities, including a home program therapist, teacher, trainer, consultant, and now researcher. She was a classroom teacher for seven years working primarily with students on the autism spectrum, and has worked with the UNC TEACCH Autism Program as a trainer for professionals in the field.

In all capacities Dr. Hume remains committed to improving outcomes for those with developmental disabilities.


During her ten years as a researcher at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC, Dr.Hume, in collaboration with a number of colleagues across departments and disciplines, has received over $12,500,000 in funding as PI- or Co-PI, published almost forty manuscripts, and has led two of the largest studies to date examining the efficacy of school-based interventions for students with developmental disabilities. The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee has twice identified her work as a top 20 yearly scientific advance in ASD research. While conducting this work she has had the opportunity to work with and learn from hundreds of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, as well as faculty members, teachers, related service providers, school administrators, early intervention providers, and agency representatives across the state and country.

Dr. Hume’s research focuses on increasing access for individuals with developmental disabilities to high quality community-based interventions. Her research interests span the age range—with a great deal of work focusing on school based interventions for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Much of Dr.Hume’s work focuses on the design and implementation of interventions for individuals with developmental disabilities, their families, and service providers in school settings. She, along with Dr. Sam Odom, lead the Center on Secondary Education for Students with ASD (CSESA), a Research and Development Center funded by IES. The mission is to understand and improve the very bleak postsecondary outcomes for adolescents with ASD through high quality interventions in the high school setting, and this is the largest intervention study to date with adolescents on the spectrum. Dr.Hume was recently awarded a Follow-Up Grant from IES to study this group of adolescents as they move beyond high school to examine the impact of CSESA on employment, education, and community integration outcomes.

Dr. Hume’s research also focuses on identifying evidence based practices for individuals with ASD and translating those findings into practical tools for service providers. As a former special education teacher serving students with developmental disabilities, she understands many of the challenges service providers face in accessing resources, navigating the many well-touted but under-studied interventions, and meeting the very diverse needs of students. Several research highlights include: leading the recent systematic review updating the EBPs for students with ASD through her directorship of the National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence and Practice, authoring a number of high profile reviews of the literature intended to assist service providers in identifying evidence based practices and programs, presenting and publishing in practitioner-oriented venues and with practitioner partners to ensure research results are reaching intended audiences authoring curricula and online modules translating research to practice, and partnering with service providers across research efforts.