Cara McComish, PhD

Cara McComish2016Cara McComish, PhD
Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Master's Studies
Phone: (919) 966-8153
Fax: (919) 966-0100


  • PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2008 
  • MA, Oklahoma State University 2000 
  • BS, University of Maine at Farmington 1998

Personal Statement

I graduated from the PhD program here in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008, and joined the DSHS faculty in 2011. My interest in the field of speech-language pathology began during my high school years in Maine, where I job shadowed school SLPs and obtained my bachelor's degree in Speech Pathology from the University of Maine at Farmington in 1998. I always knew that I wanted to be a speech-language pathologist, and immediately went on to graduate school at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. It was during my graduate work that I became interested in and realized the importance of early intervention for infants and young children at risk for communication delays and disorders. I graduated from OSU in 2000 and moved back to New England to complete my Clinical Fellowship Year at the Richie McFarland Children's Center in Stratham, New Hampshire, where I worked from 2000-2003. During that time I began to develop research questions broadly about early identification of and interventions for communication disorders, specifically autism spectrum disorders.  I moved to North Carolina in 2003 to pursue a PhD in Speech and Hearing Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill, and immediately fell in love with the UNC-CH campus, the interdisciplinary research opportunities and resources available here, and the beautiful state of North Carolina. I currently live in Creedmoor, NC with my family.

Courses Taught

  • SPHS 570 Anatomy and Physiology of Speech and Hearing
  • SPHS 806 Birth to Five Communication Assessment and Intervention 
  • SPHS 802 009 Autism Seminar 

Research/Clinical Interests

  • Early Supports and Services for Children Birth to Five and Their Families
  • Early Identification of Autism  
  • Development of Communication and Feeding Skills in Infants and Young Children

Research Interests:

I am a member of interdisciplinary research teams focused on early identification of autism as well as identification and supports for children with feeding/eating difficulties and their families. One of these teams is the Feeding Flock, which is developing a research registry to partner with families on creating measures of feeding difficulties in infants and young children. You can find more information about this research at

Recent Publications:

Thoyre, S., Pados, B., Park, J., Estrem, H., Hodges, E., McComish, C., Van Riper, M., & Murdoch, K. (2014). Development and content validation of the pediatric eating assessment tool (Pedi-EAT).  American Journal of Speech Language Pathology, 23, 1-14.  doi: 10.1044/1058-0360(2013/12-0069)

Crais, E., McComish, C., Humprheys, B., Watson, L.R., Baranek, G.T., Reznick, J.S., Christian, R., & Earls, M. (2014).  Primary care providers' views on autism spectrum disorder screening at 12-18 months. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44 (9), 2311-2328.

Marturana, E., McComish, C., Woods, J., Crais, E. (2011).   Early Intervention Teaming and the Primary Service Provider Approach: Who Does What, When, Why, and How?  Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, 18, 47-52.

Dickie, V. A., Baranek, G. T., Schultz, B., Watson, L. R. & McComish, C. S. (2009). Parent reports of sensory experiences of preschool children with and without autism: A qualitative study. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 63, 172-181.

Colgan, S. E., Lanter, E., McComish, C., Watson, L. R., Crais, E. R., & Baranek, G. T. (2006). Analysis of social interaction gestures in infants with autism. Child Neuropsychology, 12, 307-319.

Watson, L R, Lanter, E, McComish, C., Poston Roy, V (2004). Enhancing the communication  development of toddlers with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapies, 4(2), 179-201.

Professional Organizations

  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
  • North Carolina Speech-Hearing-Language Association (NCSHLA)