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Leadership in IDD
September 2021


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Leadership in IDD        

September 2021


Commentary from the field

LaRon Scott

Increasing Racial Representation in Research
LaRon Scott, EdD, Associate Professor of Special Education & Executive Director of Minority Education Center, Virginia Commonwealth University; Co-Editor, Inclusion

We must hold each other accountable for our scientific research related to promoting the success of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), specifically understanding factors related to the discussion of evidence-based interventions and strategies addressing people of color with IDD. I find that very few studies include representative samples of people of color with IDD—which risks programs, interventions, and strategies from addressing the full promotion of ALL people with IDD. In that same vein, we often fail to confront structural racism in research when we do not commit to creating climates where researchers of color are included on research teams, and when we fail to disaggregate, analyze, and communicate data through broader theoretical frameworks and ecological systems that acknowledge structural racism.  

The September, 2021 special issue of Inclusion hopefully helps our field by creating conversations about experiences of people of color with IDD. I’ve certainly had to grapple with feelings around racial representation in articles that we publish in Inclusion. For example, asking what can I do as a co-editor to ensure we eradicate racism from our publication process? I’ve also had to prepare myself psychologically for the public release of the special issue. Will there be pushback? Will scholars acknowledge racial bias in their research? Will this special issue change anything? If not for anything else, I am hopeful for thought-provoking conversations to address the needs of people of color with IDD.

Colleen Thoma

Perspective of a White Female Professor: Special Issue of Inclusion on Intersectionality of Race and Disability
Colleen A. Thoma, PhD, FAAIDD, Professor, Department of Counseling and Special Education, Virginia Commonwealth University & Co-Editor, Inclusion 

When my Co-Editor asked me to contribute to the latest special issue of Inclusion, I asked myself what I could contribute to the dialogue on the disparities faced by Black children, youth, and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD)? While an experienced researcher, I am still a novice at using a disability and critical race theoretical framework. I have learned a great deal about the biases and systemic barriers experienced by Black youth and their families. But it takes more than just documenting barriers; we must stop admiring the problem and start working to solve it.

Khalilah Robinson Johnson, Matthew Bogenschutz, and Kierra Peak (2021) provide guidance on improving research and have called out researchers for failing to give voice to those who are the focus of research studies, using “fuzzy” terminology and groupings, and assuming that because a marginalized group is included in our population, we have understood their experiences in context. 
Moving forward, I will be making several changes. First, my intervention research studies, will be designed with Black youth to improve transition outcomes, to provide access to transition education and services to help them achieve their dreams for adult life, and to remove barriers.  

Next, as co-editor of Inclusion, my new goals are to publish research that has an impact on Black communities, involves those who are the focus of study at all stages of the research (not merely as participants), and that results in articles that give voice to those who have been marginalized. Please join me in this work so others can learn and improve outcomes for Black children, youth, and adults with IDD.

View the archive of the Leadership in IDD newsletter here.

Member Spotlight

Colleen McLaughlin 

Colleen A. McLaughlin, MEd, FAAIDD
Associate Director, The Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
New Brunswick, NJ

Member since 2005

Why did you join AAIDD?
To be connected with premier leaders in the field of developmental disabilities, have opportunities to learn from the expertise of others, and network with peers that share similar values.

Why did you choose the field of intellectual disability?
When I was in graduate school at Temple University, I had the opportunity to be a graduate assistant/student trainee at the Institute on Disabilities (PA’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities).  In this role I provided assistance with PA’s Competence and Confidence: Partners in Policymaking and also participated in the program. Through this, I was exposed to critical issues related to the civil rights of people with disabilities, best practices in the field, and policies important to the lives of people with developmental disabilities. I was mentored by passionate leaders and had the opportunity to get to know some dedicated people with disabilities and families. This experience quickly turned into a career choice focused on social justice, self-determination, and community inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Recent awards, accolades, appointments, and other honors

Pat Nobbie will chair the 2022 AAIDD conference Local Arrangements Committee.

Liz Perkins has joined the Board of Directors of Disability Rights Florida

Renata Tischá co-authored a chapter, Measuring outcomes of people with disabilities in the US: Current challenges and opportunities, in The Development, Conceptualisation and Implementation of Quality in Disability Support Services (2021, Karolinum Press)

Nancy Weiss contributed to Pain and Shock in America: Politics, Advocacy, and the Controversial Treatment of People with Disabilities (2021, Brandeis University Press)

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, EP Magazine is honoring 50 Advocate Heroes. Honorees will be profiled across several issues; Marty Ford, Susan Havercamp, Tamar Heller, Amy Hewitt, Susan Parish, Cathy Ficker Terrill, and Jim Thompson were among those honored in the September 2021 issue.



Opportunities to participate in research, projects, policy development, and other collaborations

Guest editors--including Giulia Balboni--accepting submissions to publish in a special issue of Research In Developmental Disabilities Journal on enhancing research practice in developmental disabilities.
Deadline: October 31, 2021

Nominations for the AAIDD Board of Directors Now Open!

Deadline: October 8, 2021

Nominations for 2022 AAIDD Awards and Fellows Now Open! 
Deadline: October 27, 2021

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