Teal Benevides, PhD, OTR/L Augusta University

Teal Benevides, PhD, OTR/L

Associate Professor & Director of Faculty Development, Institute of Public and Preventive Health

  • 706-446-003
  • Department of Occupational Therapy

Teal Benevides has a passion for addressing disparities among those on the autism spectrum, including racial and ethnic minorities.

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Teal Benevides, PhD, MS, OTR/L has a passion for describing, understanding, and addressing disparities among individuals on the autism spectrum, including racial and ethnic minorities, and autistic adults.

Areas of Expertise

Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Autism Services
Autism Research and Treatment
Mental Health Research
Services and Support
Adults With Autism


  • Organization for Autism Research : Member, Scientific Advisory Board
  • Autism in Adulthood : Deputy Editor
  • American Journal of Occupational Therapy : Associate Editor
  • Institute of Exceptional Care : Member, Advisory Board


Media Appearances

School learning transitions could heavily impact special needs students

WRDW  online


“We’re already seeing a dramatic rise in adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum in suicidal ideation and suicidal behaviors as well as other mental health crises,” Teal Benevides with the Department of Occupational Therapy at Augusta University said. Benevides says many of these students are regressing with skills they’ve already learned, causing even more stress on families and parents

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New research addresses the needs of adults with autism

WJBF  online


When we think of autism, we often think of children and their struggle with school and interacting with other people. What we do not often consider is the fact that those children grow up and become adults. That void is something that researchers at Augusta University are investigating — how to care for adults with autism. It is obvious when you talk to Teal Benevides, an associate professor and occupational therapist at Augusta University, that she is excited about her work. Her latest project is “Priority Setting to Improve Health Outcomes: Autistic Adults and Other Stakeholders Engage Together”.

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Access to Medicaid waivers varies with race, age, region – Spectrum

ABNT  online


Black and Hispanic people with autism or intellectual disability in North Carolina are less likely to receive a Medicaid waiver for home and community-based services than their white peers are, according to a new study. A person’s age and the county in which they live also affect their chances. The waivers are the largest source of funds for home and community-based health-care services in the United States. The provisions allow Medicaid — insurance from the federal government for low-income families — to cover transportation and mental health services, as well as speech, physical and occupational therapy. How Medicaid administers these waivers, though, is left up to individual states, which has led to wide variation in their distribution.

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Racial and ethnic disparities in benefits eligibility and spending among adults on the autism spectrum: A cohort study using the Medicare Medicaid Linked Enrollees Analytic Data Source

PLoS One

Teal W Benevides, Henry J Carretta, George Rust, Lindsay Shea

2021 Background Research on children and youth on the autism spectrum reveal racial and ethnic disparities in access to healthcare and utilization, but there is less research to understand how disparities persist as autistic adults age. We need to understand racial-ethnic inequities in obtaining eligibility for Medicare and/or Medicaid coverage, as well as inequities in spending for autistic enrollees under these public programs. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional cohort study of U.S. publicly-insured adults on the autism spectrum using 2012 Medicare-Medicaid Linked Enrollee Analytic Data Source (n = 172,071). We evaluated differences in race-ethnicity by eligibility (Medicare-only, Medicaid-only, Dual-Eligible) and spending...

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Interventions to address health outcomes among autistic adults: A systematic review


Teal W Benevides, Stephen M Shore, May-Lynn Andresen, Reid Caplan, Barb Cook, Dena L Gassner, Jasmine M Erves, Taylor M Hazlewood, M Caroline King, Lisa Morgan, Lauren E Murphy, Yenn Purkis, Brigid Rankowski, Sarah M Rutledge, Savannah P Welch, Karl Wittig

2020 Research has shown that autistic adults have poor health outcomes. We conducted a systematic review to identify existing interventions to address health outcomes for autistic adults and to determine whether these interventions address the priorities of the autistic community. We searched PubMed for articles that included an intervention, a primary health outcome measured at the individual (not system) level, and a sample population of at least 50% autistic adults. Studies were excluded if they were not peer-reviewed, had a focus on caregivers, were expert opinions on specific interventions, untested protocols, or interventions without a primary health outcome. Out of the 778 articles reviewed, 19 were found to meet the stated criteria. Based on the evidence gathered, two were considered emerging evidence-based approaches: cognitive behavioral approaches and mindfulness. The remaining interventions included in the review did not have sufficient evidence to support current use with this population. The majority of the studies included samples of young autistic adults, primarily male, without an intellectual disability. Anxiety, quality of life, depression, and behavioral issues were among the health outcomes measured in the final included articles. More research on preferred interventions with prioritized health outcomes of the autistic adult population is needed.

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Listening to the autistic voice: Mental health priorities to guide research and practice in autism from a stakeholder-driven project


Teal W Benevides, Stephen M Shore, Kate Palmer, Patricia Duncan, Alex Plank, May-Lynn Andresen, Reid Caplan, Barb Cook, Dena Gassner, Becca Lory Hector, Lisa Morgan, Lindsey Nebeker, Yenn Purkis, Brigid Rankowski, Karl Wittig, Steven S Coughlin

2020 Autistic adults are significantly more likely to experience co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Although intervention studies are beginning to be implemented with autistic adults to address mental health outcomes, little is known about what research autistic adults feel is needed, or what mental health outcomes are of value to them. The purpose of this article is to describe a project that involved more than 350 autistic adults and other stakeholders as coproducers of research priorities on mental health. Through a variety of methods including a large online survey, two large stakeholder meetings, and three face-to-face focus groups, the project team identified five top priorities for mental health research which should be incorporated by researchers and practitioners in their work with autistic adults. These included research to inform trauma-informed care approaches; societal approaches for inclusion and acceptance of autistic individuals; community-available approaches for self-management of mental health; evaluation of adverse mental health outcomes of existing interventions; and improvements in measurement of quality of life, social well-being, and other preferred outcomes in autistic adults.

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