Michael Alessandri, Ph.D.

Professor of Clinical
Executive Director, UM Center for Autism & Related Disabilities
Assistant Chair, Community Outreach And Engagement

(305) 284-6558
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Dr. Michael Alessandri is the Executive Director of the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD). Dr. Alessandri has been a professor at UM since 1996 and has worked with individuals with autism and their families since 1981 in various capacities. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Rochester, and obtained his MS and Ph.D. in Psychology from Rutgers University. At the University of Miami, Dr. Alessandri, in addition to his other roles, also serves as the Department of Psychology’s Assistant Chairman for Community Outreach and Engagement.

Dr. Alessandri has presented, consulted and published internationally on developing appropriate and effective educational programs for students with autism. In addition, he has received numerous research and service grants and several notable awards within the field including the Autism Society of America’s Wendy F. Miller Autism Professional of the Year Award and National Autism Program of the Year for UM-NSU CARD.

Dr. Alessandri has also received numerous other community service awards, including the March of Dimes Community Excellence in Health Care Award (2007), the Health Services Coalition Outstanding Community Leader Award (2009), and the Parent to Parent Excellence in Family Advocacy Award (2010). He was also named one of the Ronald McDonald House's 12 Good Men (2008) and the Dewar's 12 Man of Distinction (2007). In 2012, he was selected by the Children's Trust as the David Lawrence Champion for Children, one of South Florida’s highest honors for community service. In 2016, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce named him their Visionary Leader of the Year; and in 2017, he was recognized by the Dade County Bar Association with the Fostering Inclusion and Diversity Award.  Recognizing his outstanding career achievements, his alma mater, The University of Rochester School of Arts and Sciences, named him the Distinguished Alumnus of 2022.

Dr. Alessandri will not be accepting students this Fall. 



1992Ph.D. , Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
1985B.A. Psychology , University of Rochester

Professional Experience

1996 - Faculty, University of Miami
1992 - 1996Assistant Professor, San Jose State University
1993 - 1995Associate Director, Stanford University PDD Clinic
1989 - 1991Lecturer, Princeton University


Dr. Alessandri is Assistant Chairman of Community Outreach and Engagement in the Department of Psychology, Clinical Professor of Psychology and Pediatrics, and Executive Director of the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) at the University of Miami. While Dr. Alessandri has been involved in a variety of research and clinical services for individuals with autism across their lifespan, his current research interests are aimed at improving early screening of children with autism through primary care, evaluating parent coaching interventions aimed at improving symptom presentation and developmental trajectories in young children with autism, evaluating comprehensive and other school-based and clinic-based treatment approaches for individuals with autism, and assessing factors that influence autism family adaptation and coping. He is also actively involved in studies investigating the underlying genetics and neuroscience of autism. In addition to his research in these areas, Dr. Alessandri oversees community-based service programs at CARD, a university-based, state-funded technical assistance, outreach, and support program for nearly 14,000 South Florida families affected by autism spectrum disorder and related disabilities.  The center supports clinical, educational and research initiatives for those of all ages and functioning levels affected by autism and serves as a research partner to investigators studying autism spectrum disorder.

Representative Publications

Eshraghi, A. A., Cavalcante, L., Furar, E., Alessandri, M., Eshraghi, R. S., Armstrong, F. D., & Mittal, R. (2022). Implications of parental stress on worsening of behavioral problems in children with autism during COVID-19 pandemic: “the spillover hypothesis”. Molecular psychiatry, 27(4), 1869-1870. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-021-01433-2

Furar, E., Wang, F., Durocher, J. S., Ahn, Y. A., Memis, I., Cavalcante, L., Klahr, L., Samson, A. C., Van Herwegen, J., Dukes, D., Alessandri, M., Mittal, R., & Eshraghi, A. A. (2022). The impact of COVID-19 on individuals with ASD in the US: Parent perspectives on social and support concerns. PloS one17(8), e0270845. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0270845 

Moffitt, J. M., Ahn, Y. A., Custode, S., Tao, Y., Mathew, E., Parlade, M., Hale, M., Durocher, J., Alessandri, M., Perry, L. K., & Messinger, D. S. (2022). Objective measurement of vocalizations in the assessment of autism spectrum disorder symptoms in preschool age children. Autism Research. https://doi.org/10.1002/aur.2731 

Shu, C., Green Snyder, L., Shen, Y., Chung, W. K., & SPARK Consortium(2022). Imputing cognitive impairment in SPARK, a large autism cohort. Autism Research:  Official Journal of the International Society for Autism Research15(1), 156–170. https://doi.org/10.1002/aur.2622

Vitale, S.R., Schneider, H., Gardner, L, Alessandri, M., & Marker, C. Challenging behavior and parental depression: The effects of everyday stressors and benefit finding for parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-022-05627-7

Zhou, X., Feliciano, P., Shu, C. et al. Integrating de novo and inherited variants in 42,607 autism cases identifies mutations in new moderate-risk genes. Nat Genet (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41588-022-01148-2

Bal, V.H., Wilkinson, E., White, L.C., Law, J.K., SPARK Consortium, Feliciano, P. and Chung, W.K. (2021), Early Pandemic Experiences of Autistic Adults: Predictors of Psychological Distress. Autism Research.https://doi.org/10.1002/aur.2480

Dukes, D., Van Herwegen, J., Alessandri, M., Nemary, F. A., Rad, J. A., Lavenex, P. B., … Samson, A. C. (2021, February 16). Introducing the COVID-19 crisis Special Education Needs Coping Survey.https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/rtswa

White, L.C., Law, J.K., Daniels, A.M. et al. Brief Report: Impact of COVID-19 on Individuals with ASD and Their Caregivers: A Perspective from the SPARK Cohort. J Autism Dev Disord (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04816-6

Baez, A.C., Dajani, D.R., Voorhies, W., Parlade, M.V., Alessandri, M, Britton, J.C., Llabre, M.M., & Uddin, L.Q. (2020). Parsing heterogeneity of executive function in typically and atypically developing children: A conceptual replication and exploration of social function. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 50(3): 707-718.

Dirks, B., Romero, C., Voorhies, W., Kupis, L., Nomi, J., Dajani, D.R., Odriozola, P., Burrows, C.A., Beaumont, A., Cardona, S., Parlade, M.V., Alessandri, M., Britton, J.C., & Uddin, L.Q.(2020). Neural responses to a putative set-shifting task in children with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research. https://doi.org/10.1002/aur.2347

Ehrenreich-May, J., Simpson, G., Stewart, L.M., Kennedy, S.M., Rowley, A.N., Beaumont, A., Alessandri, M., Storch, E.A., Laugeson, E.A., Frankel, F.D., & Wood, J.J.  (2020). Treatment for anxiety in older adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders:  A pilot study.  Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. https://doi.org/10.1521/bumc_2020_84_03

Eshraghi, A.A., Li, C., Alessandri, M., Messinger, D.S., Eshraghi, R.S., Mittal, R., & Armstrong D.F. (2020).  COVID-19:  Strategies for the specific challenges faced by individuals with ASD and their families. The Lancet, 7(6), 481-483. 

Fombonne, E., Green Snyder, L., Daniels, A., Feliciano, P., Chung W., & SPARK Consortium. Psychiatric and Medical Profiles of Autistic Adults in the SPARK Cohort [published online ahead of print, 2020 Feb 24]. J Autism Dev Disord. 2020;10.1007/s10803-020-04414-6. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04414-6

Kupis, L., Romero, C., Dirks, B., Hoang, S., Cardona, S.M., Beaumont, A.L., Parlade, M.V., Alessandri, M., Britton, J.C., Chang, C., Nomi, J.S., & Uddin, L. Q.  (2020).  Evoked and intrinsic brain network dynamics in autism.  Neuroimage:  Clinicalhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2020.102396

Feliciano, P., Zhou, X., Astrovskaya, I. et al.(SPARK Consortium)(2019). Exome sequencing of 457 autism families recruited online provides evidence for autism risk genes. npj Genom. Med. 4, 19. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41525-019-0093-8

Boyd, B.A., Watson, L.R., Reszka, S.S., Sideris, J., Alessandri, M., Baranek, G.T., Crais, E.R., Donaldson, A., Gutierrez, A., Johnson, L., & Belardi, K. (2018). Efficacy of the ASAP intervention for preschoolers with ASD:  A Cluster randomized controlled trial. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48, 3144-3162.

SPARK Consortium. SPARK: A US cohort of 50,000 families to accelerate autism research. Neuron 97, 488-493 (2018).

Ghilain, C.S., Parlade, M.V., McBee, M.T., Owen, T., Coman, D.C., Gutierrez, M., Boyd, B.A., Odom, S., Alessandri, M. (2016). Validation of the Pictorial Infant Communication Scale for preschool-aged children with autism spectrum disorder.  Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice, ODI: 10.1.1177/1362361316636757 

Willis, K., Timmons, L., Pruitt, M., Schneider, H.L., Alessandri, M., Ekas, N.V. (2016). The relationship between optimism, coping, and depressive symptoms in Hispanic mothers and fathers of children with ASD.  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(7), 2427-2440. DOI 10.1007/s10803-016-2776-7

Ekas, N.V., Ghilain, C., Pruitt, M.G., Celimli, S, Gutierrez, A., &Alessandri, M. (2016). The role of family cohesion in the psychological adjustment of non-Hispanic White and Hispanic mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder.  Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 21, 10-24.

Ekas, N.V., Timmons, L., Pruitt, M., Ghilain, C.S., & Alessandri, M.  (2015). The power of positivity:  Predictors of relationship satisfaction for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder.  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45, 1997-2007.  

Boyd, B.A., Hume, K., McBee, M.T., Alessandri, M., Gutierrez, A., Johnson, L., Sperry, L., and    Odom, S.L. (2014). Comparative efficacy of LEAP, TEACCH and non-model-specific special education   programs for preschoolers with autism spectrum disorders.  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(2), 366-380.

Cuccaro, M.L., Czape, K., Alessandri, M., Lee, J., Rupchock, A., Bendik, E., Dueker, N., Nations, L., Pericak-Vance, M., & Hahn, S. (2014):  Parent beliefs and experiences.  American Journal of Medical Genetics, DOI: 10.1002/ajmg.a.36698

Ehrenreich-May, J., Storch, E.A., Queen, A.H., Hernandez Rodriguez, J., Ghilain, C., Alessandri, M., Lewin, A.B., Arnold, E.B., Murphy, T.K., Enjey Lin, C., Fujii, C., Renno, P.,  Piacentini, J.C., Laugeson, E., & Wood, J.J. (2014). An open trial of cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders.  Focus on Autism and Development Disorders, 29(3), 145-155.

Wood, J.J., Ehrenreich-May, J., Alessandri, M., Fujii, C., Renno, P., Laugeson, E., Piacentini, J.C., De Nadai, A.S., Arnold, E., Lewin, A.B., Murphy, T.K., & Storch, E.A. (2014).  Cognitive behavioral therapy for early  adolescents with autism spectrum disorders and clinical anxiety:  A randomized, controlled trial.  Behavior Therapy.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2014.01.002

Coman, D., Alessandri, M., Gutierrez, A., Novotny, S., Boyd, B., Hume, K., Sperry, L., & Odom, S.  (2013). Commitment to Classroom Model Philosophy and Burnout Symptoms Among High Fidelity Teachers Implementing Preschool Programs for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43 (2), 345-360.

Gutierrez, A., Fischer, A.J., Hale, M.N., Durocher, J.S., & Alessandri, M. (2013). Differential response patterns to the control condition between two procedures to assess social reinforcers for children with autism. Behavioral Interventions, 28 (4), 353-361.

Hume, K., Boyd, B., McBee, M., Coman, D., Gutierrez, A., Shaw, E., Sperry, L., Alessandri, M., & Odom, S. (2011). Assessing implementation of comprehensive treatment models for young children with ASD:  Reliability and validity of two measures.  Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5, 1430-1440.