Cara McComish, PhD

SHS_McCommish.jpgCara McComish, PhD
Assistant Professor
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 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 (Instructor of Record)

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:

Currently, I am working with Drs. Betsy Crais, Linda Watson, Grace Baranek, and Steve Reznick on a survey of the "State of the State" of developmental and autism screening practices here in North Carolina.   We conducted focus groups with healthcare providers and parents about autism specific screening at 12-18 months, and are working on a manuscript to share information from the healthcare provider focus groups. In addition, I collaborate with Dr. Suzanne Thoyre in the School of Nursing on her feeding research; her research team is currently developing a parent report questionnaire to measure problematic feeding behaviors in young children, and I serve as a consultant to that project.

Recent Publications:

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)

International Society for Autism Research (INSAR)