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In Memoriam: James R. Thompson

February 13, 1958 - September 11, 2022James R. Thompson IDD

James R. Thompson, PhD, earned a bachelor's in special education in 1980 and a master's in educational administration in 1989 from from Illinois State University, and a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1994. He was preferred to Fellow of the Association in 2007.

Dr. Thompson started his career as a special education teacher in the Chicago area. He joined the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota in 1990, then the Department of Special Education at Illinois State University in 1995, where he rose to the rank of full professor. He served as chair of the Department from 2004-2007.

Following his retirement from Illinois State University, he joined the University of Kansas as a full professor in the Department of Special Education, Associate Director of the UCEDD, and Senior Scientist of the Beach Center on Disability.

Dr. Thompson served the Association as President of the AAIDD Board of Directors (2013-2014), Editor of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (2016-2022), and lead author of the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) suite of tools.

The SIS has been a "game changer" for people with IDD and the systems that served them by focusing on their support needs rather than deficits. He was honored in 2011 for his work regarding the SIS by AAIDD with its Exceptional Service to the Field and Association Award, and in 2022, he was honored for the body of his contributions to the field by the AAIDD Board of Directors with its Distinguished Career Recognition.

He is survived by his wife and daughters. A Celebration of Life will be held on October 1, 2022, at Underwood Park at 900 S. Linden Street from 11:00 - 2:00 p.m. Please feel free to wear Green Bay Packer or White Sox attire.

Donations to the AAIDD student scholarship fund in his honor may be made to here. 

See his obituary here.

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