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Sarah O'Kelley.

Associate ProfessorThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
CH19 307U
(205) 975-5781

Research Interests: Cognitive and behavioral phenotypes of children and adults with ASD, ASD treatment-outcome, family functioning in ASD and other developmental disabilities, screening and interdisciplinary diagnosis of ASD in at-risk populations

Teaching Interests: Clinical supervision, Cognitive assessment, ASD as neurodiversity

Office Hours: By appointment


  • B.A., University of Alabama, Psychology
  • M.A., University of Alabama, Clinical Child Psychology
  • Ph.D., University of Alabama, Clinical Child Psychology

Dr. O’Kelley is the Director of the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Clinic at UAB Civitan-Sparks Clinics; she is also involved in psychology and interdisciplinary clinical training as the UAB LEND training director. Her clinical interests include cognitive and diagnostic assessment, individual and group therapy approaches, and school consultation for children with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. Dr. O’Kelley is a certified provider PEERS® for teens and young adults, a program developed at UCLA (for more information about UAB PEERS email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Dr. O'Kelley has been involved in research and clinical activities with individuals with ASD and their families for 20 years. She completed her predoctoral internship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Psychology Internship Training Consortium, and was a LEND postdoctoral fellow at UAB Civitan-Sparks Clinics. From 2006 to 2008, a portion of her postdoctoral fellowship included a position of Program Coordinator for the University of Alabama Autism Spectrum Disorders College Transition and Support program (UA-ACTS), a program she helped develop and implement. Dr. O’Kelley is a member of the International Society for Autism Research and American Psychological Association and is active in the Alabama Autism Providers Network.

  • Research Interests

    Dr. O'Kelley's research interests include cognitive and behavioral phenotypes of individuals with ASD (previous collaborative and independent studies have included evaluating implicit learning, central coherence, and theory of mind paradigms), screening and early identification (i.e., evaluating validity of screening tools), sibling and family functioning (i.e., the broader autism phenotype and behavioral difficulties in siblings of children with ASD), group social skills interventions, and issues across the lifespan for individuals with ASD. She actively collaborates with investigators within Psychology, throughout UAB, and across the country on funded research projects. She supervises a number of student/trainee projects as a co-director (along with Kristi Guest) of the ASD Database Group at the UAB LEND evaluating clinical data obtained regarding children referred for ASD assessment.

  • Recent Courses


    • PY 764: Psych Assess: Cognitive Child & Adult
    • PY 791: Fundamentals of Clinical Supervision and Consultation


    • PY 420/HON 325: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders by Challenging the “In Their Own World” Perspective
  • Select Supervised Trainee Projects and Presentations
    • Lebersfeld, J., Guest, K., Leonczyk, C., Trinh, E., Leger, S., & O’Kelley, S. (2015, November). Prevalence of Sleep Difficulties and Associated Features in Children Referred for an Autism Evaluation. Poster presented at the 8th Bi-Annual Pediatric Sleep Medicine Conference, Amelia Island, FL.
    • Krubinski, K., Leonczyk, C., O’Kelley, S., Guest, K., & Clay, O. (2015, February). Racial differences in the symptom profiles of children assessed for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Poster presented at the 14th Annual Alabama Autism Conference, Tuscaloosa, AL.
    • Waselkov, P., Harris, A.N., O’Kelley, S.E., & Guest, K.C. (2014, May). Investigating the Correlation Between Parental Age at Birth and a Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in a Sample of Children with Developmental Delays. Poster presented at the 2014 International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), Atlanta, GA.
    • Bukelis, I., Harris, A.N., Patel, A.A., O'Kelley, S.E., Guest, K.C., & Biasini, F.J. (2014, May). Patterns of Psychotropic Medication Use Among Children Referred for Autism Spectrum Disorder Evaluation. Poster presented at the 2014 International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), Atlanta, GA.
    • Patel, A. U., Edwards, S. E., Guest, K. C., & O'Kelley, S. (2013, April). Family history of psychoaffective disorders and autism severity. Poster presented at the UAB Neurodevelopment/Simpson-Ramsey Symposium, Birmingham, AL.
    • Grantham, C.L., Harris, A. N., O’Kelley, S.E., & Guest, K.C. (2012, August). When Diagnosing ASDs What Factors Account for Discrepancies between the ADOS and the ADI-R? Poster presented at the 120th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Orlando, Florida.
    • Harris, A.N., McCalla, M.K., O’Kelley, S.E., & Guest, K.C. (2012, May). The Relationship between Motor and Language Abilities in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Poster presented at the 2012 International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), Toronto, Canada.
    • McCalla, M.K., Harris, A.N., Edwards, S.E., Sheridan, E.H., Guest, K.C., & O’Kelley, S.E. (2012, May). Exploring the Relationship Between Communication Skills and Sleep Problems in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Poster presented at the 2012 International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), Toronto, Canada.
    • Lovell, W.A., O’Kelley, S. E., & Mitchell, S. C. (2012, April). A visual schedule and social story for individuals with autism. Poster presented at the UAB Neurodevelopment/Simpson-Ramsey Symposium, Birmingham, AL.
  • Select Publications
    • Walsh, C., Moody, E., Blakely-Smith, A., Duncan, A., Hepburn, S., Keefer, A., Klinger, L., Meyer, A., O’Kelley, S., & Reaven, J. (2018). The Relationship between Treatment Acceptability and Child Outcome in Group CBT for Youth with ASD and Anxiety. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 48 (3), 123–132.
    • Reaven, J., Hepburn, S., Blakely-Smith, A., Moody, E., Meyer, A., Klinger, L.G., Keefer, A., O’Kelley, S., & Duncan, A. (2018). Training Clinicians to Deliver Group CBT to Manage Anxiety in Youth with ASD: Results of a Multi-Site Trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86(3), 205-217.
    • McRae, E., Stopplebein, L., O’Kelley, S., Fite, P., & Greening, L. (2018). Predicting Internalizing and Externalizing Symptoms in Children with ASD: Evaluation of a Contextual Model of Parental Factors. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48 (4), 1261-1271.
    • Murdaugh, D., Maximo, J., Cordes, C., O’Kelley, S., & Kana, R. (2017). From word reading to multisentence comprehension: Improvements in brain activity in children with autism after reading intervention. NeuroImage: Clinical, 16, 303-312.
    • Maximo, O.J., Murdaugh, D.L., O’Kelley, S., Kana, R.K. (2017). Changes in Intrinsic Local Connectivity after Reading Intervention in Children with Autism. Brain & Language,175, 11-17.
    • Bednarz, H.B., Maximo, J.O., Murdaugh, D.L., O’Kelley, S., & Kana, R.K. (2017). “Decoding versus comprehension”: Brain responses underlying reading comprehension in children with autism. Brain & Language, 169, 39-47.
    • Capal, J.K., Horn, P., Murray, D., Byars, A.W., Bing, N.M., Bucher, L.A., Williams, M.E., O’Kelley, S., Pearson, D.A., Sahin, M., Krueger, D.A.., TACERN Study Group (2017). Utility of the Autism Observation Scale for Infants in Early Identification of Autism in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, Pediatric Neurology, 75, 80-86.
    • O'Kelley, S.E., Guest, K.C., Leonczyk, C.O, Rahn, E., Krubinski, K.D., Modi, B.A., Kennedy, A., & Sweatt, D. (2016, May). Exploration of ASD symptoms among individuals with Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome. Poster presented at the 2016 International Meeting for Autism Research, Baltimore, MD.
    • O’Kelley, S.E., Guest, K.C., McCalla, M.K., Wojnaroski, M., Bailey, K.J., Griffith, E.M., & Biasini, F. J. (2011, May). Using the M-CHAT Best 7 Score in Screening for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Young Children Referred for Developmental Assessment. Poster presented at the 2011 International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), San Diego, CA.
  • Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies
    • American Psychological Association
    • International Society for Autism Research