I became aware of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) several years ago, although their inception dates back to the John F. Kennedy administration. In search of partner organizations for Special Travelers, also focused on the bridge between research and practice, I discovered AUCD. Then, when a fabulous group of graduates from the Public Health program at American University focused on the services of Special Travelers as their senior capstone project, they too agreed that AUCD would be a productive fit for my mission and goals in the field of Special Education.
During the recent annual AUCD conference in Washington, DC, I got to know this incredible network of leaders, collaborators, self-advocates, and family members. The theme for this year's conference was Navigating Change: Building our Future Together. The conference began with a series of "Driving Change" sessions, which offered both updates from leaders in various areas of the field, as well significant time for those passionate about that area of change to discuss what is happening in their area of the country and share action steps towards improvement. Similar to my experience at the Autism Society's annual conference, I found the most productive and dignifying part of the conference was the presence and voice of self-advocates, those whom are most directly affected by a collective group of decisions and practices related to persons with disabilities.
I shared a poster presentation on Behavior: The Growing Need to BE in the World. We are at a critical time for recognizing individuals with differing abilities as needed members of our societies. For individuals who demonstrate challenging behavior, their opportunity to demonstrate their abilities or talents is often over-shadowed by what they do that is not compatible to the environment. Behavior: The Growing Need to BE in the World presented case studies from a broad-based behavioral perspective, linked at a foundational level to the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, though contextually applied to meet a variety of individuals and educational models.
Thank you AUCD, and all participants for an informative and hope-filled event!