Kristina Lopez, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the Arizona State University School of Social Work. Dr. Lopez was previously an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach in the School of Social Work. Her professional background includes work in special education. Dr. Lopez earned her B.A. and M.A. in psychology from California State University, Northridge. She earned her M.S.W. and M.S. in psychology, and her Ph.D. in social work and psychology, from the University of Michigan.
She is an expert in Latino children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families. She has worked with children and youth with ASD and helped educate parents raising children with ASD. Her research interests include family experiences raising children with autism, the development and implementation of culturally informed autism intervention for Latino families, and ecological and socio-cultural perspectives of disparities in age of diagnosis and treatment access among underserved populations. Many of her projects are multi-site intervention studies to understand the feasibility of psychoeducation programs for parents of children with ASD and identify them as evidenced-based practice. Her research has been published in such renowned journals as Family Process, Best Practices in Mental Health, and International Review of Research in Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Lopez has presented at multiple national and international conferences, including the National Council on Family Relations Annual Conference, Gatlinburg Conference and International Society for Autism Research Annual Meeting.
A vital aspect of Dr. Lopez’s research is the integration of community resources to advance the design of culturally informed models of intervention that foster child outcomes, parent-child interactions, autism awareness, receipt of services and community involvement among Latino families. Her work has been funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research and several university seed grants. She is currently conducting a study in collaboration with the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) titled Innovation in the Parents Taking Action Program to address the disparities in ASD diagnoses in the Southwest. Dr. Lopez’s research aims to inform policy, as well as to improve service development and implementation for individuals with ASD and their families.
In addition to her education and training, Dr. Lopez has in-depth experience living with a developmental disability. For most of her life, she has navigated the complexities of various service systems to manage her epilepsy. Her experience offers a unique, compassionate perspective on her research and work with individuals on the spectrum and their families.