Marian Williams

Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Psychology


Marian Williams, PhD, Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Keck School of Medicine of USC, is a licensed psychologist specializing in infant-family and early childhood mental health and developmental disabilities in children.  She is Co-Director of Interdisciplinary Training for the USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), and Autism Training Coordinator for the California Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (CA-LEND) interdisciplinary training program.  Based at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Dr. Williams leads the Early Childhood Mental Health program and the recently launched Stein Tikun Olam Infant-Family Mental Health Initiative.  Dr. Williams leads a Birth to Five Mental Health Training project providing core training to early childhood mental health professionals throughout Los Angeles County, and leads the Training and Technical Assistance project for First Connections, a three-year project funded by First 5 LA to enhance developmental screening and linkage for young children from underserved communities.  She conducts research on diagnosis and assessment of autism spectrum disorders, access to care for young children with developmental disabilities, and development of bilingual children. 


  • Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, University of Southern California, 6/1990
    • Psychology Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles, 1990-1991
  • Research, Teaching, Practice, and Clinical Appointments

    • Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, 2014-07-01-
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Dr. Williams’ research focuses on infant-family and early childhood mental health, and on diagnosis and assessment of autism spectrum disorders. She is currently Co-Investigator for a multi-site NIH-funded Autism Center of Excellence studying early biomarkers of autism in infants with tuberous sclerosis complex (Principal Investigators are Mustafa Sahin, MD from Boston Children’s Hospital and Darcy Krueger, MD from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital). She has participated in studies of innovative assessment and intervention approaches for children with ASD, including a study of autism in children with vision impairments (with Mark Borchert, MD and Cassandra Fink, MPH), a study of sensory adaptations to the dental environment for children with ASD (with Co-PIs Sharon Cermak, PhD and Jose Polido, DD), and studies of novel technological approaches to the study of social interactions in autism (with Shri Narayanan, PhD). In the area of infant-family mental health and developmental disability, Dr. Williams has participated in studies of modifications to evidence-based mental health treatments for young children with developmental disabilities, access to mental health care for infants in the foster care system, and studies regarding developmental screening in young children from underserved communities.

    Research Keywords

    infant-family mental health, early childhood, interdisciplinary training, autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, assessment and diagnosis

  • Journal Article

    • Williams, M. E., Carson, M. C., Zamora, I., Harley, E. K., Lakatos, P. P. (2014). Child-Parent Psychotherapy in the context of the developmental disability and medical service systems. Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy. Vol. 10, pp. 212-226.
    • Harley, E. K., Williams, M. E., Zamora, I., Lakatos, P. P. (2014). Trauma treatment in young children with developmental disabilities: Applications of the Child-Parent Psychotherapy model to the cases of “James” and “Juan.”. Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy. Vol. 10, pp. 156-195.
    • Bone, D., Lee, C., Black, M., Williams, M. E., Lee, S., Levitt, P., Narayanan, S. (2014). The psychologist as interlocutor in ASD assessment: Insights from a study of spontaneous prosody. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Vol. 57, pp. 1162-1177.
    • Stein, L. I., Lane, C., Williams, M. E., Dawson, M. E., Polido, J. C., Cermak, S. A. (2014). Physiological and behavioral stress and anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorder during routine oral care. BioMed Research International.
    • Williams, M. E., Sando, L., Soles, T. G. (2014). Cognitive tests in early childhood: Psychometric and cultural considerations. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment. Vol. 32 (5), pp. 455-476.
    • Cermak, S. A., Stein, L., Williams, M. E., Lane, C., Dawson, M. E., Borreson, A. E., Polido, J. (2014). Feasibility of a sensory-adapted dental environment for children with autism. American Journal of Occupational Therapy.
    • Williams, M. E., Perrigo, J., Banda, T., Matic, T., Goldfarb, F. (2013). Barriers to accessing services for young children. Journal of Early Intervention. Vol. 35, pp. 61-74.
    • Williams, M. E., Fink, C., Zamora, I., Borchert, M. (2013). Autism assessment measures in children with optic nerve hypoplasia and other visual impairments. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology. Vol. 56, pp. 66-72.
    • Williams, M. E., Park, S., Anaya, A., Perugini, S. M., Rao, S., Neece, C., Rafeedie, J. (2012). Linking infants and toddlers in foster care with early childhood mental health services. Children and Youth Services Review. Vol. 34 (4), pp. 838-844.
    • Williams, M. E., Rogers, K. C., Carson, M. C., Sherer, S., Hudson, B. O. (2011). Opportunities arising from transformation from treatment as usual to evidence-based practice. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Vol. 43 (1), pp. 9-16.
    • Williams, M. E., Atkins, M., Soles, T. G. (2008). Assessment of Autism in Community Settings: Discrepancies in Classification. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Vol. 39 (4), pp. 660-669.
    • Williams, M. E., Latta, J., Conversano, P. (2007). Eliminating the wait for psychiatric services. Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research. Vol. 35, pp. 107-114.