Monday, November 9, 2009

Graduate Seminar: Developmental and Severe Disabilities

Indiana University at Bloomington is offering a seminar for advanced masters and PhD students in January, 2010. Coordinators have distributed the following information:

This seminar endeavors to address issues related to severe and chronic disability of children, that is, disabilities that are attributable to cognitive and/or physical impairment and manifest during the developmental period. The association between poverty and disabilities as well as the impact of socio-cultural factors on the manifestation and outcomes of developmental disabilities will be addressed, for example, the impact of HIV/AIDS on child development.

The aim of these seminars are twofold: Firstly to discuss common underlying issues in developmental disabilities by exploring commonalities and differences between specific disabilities to deepen our understanding of the challenges experienced, and secondly to enable students to develop and evaluate intervention strategies within specific socio-cultural contexts.

Topics will include issues relating to information processing, receptive and expressive language, augmentative and alternative communication, literacy skills, problem behaviors and self-regulation as well as transitional planning and employment in developmental disabilities. A focus on factors impacting on the sustainability of intervention in severe and developmental disabilities, in particular those related to family-centered intervention and community-based instruction, will also be addressed.

The format of the seminar will be an introductory presentation followed by group discussions based on the required readings in the field. Experts who have already indicated their willingness to participate in this course include: David Mank (Indiana Institute on Disability and Community), Lisa Pufpaff (Ball State University) as well as Lyle Lloyd (Purdue University).

The main seminar presenter and organizer is Erna Alant (PhD), previously Director of the Center for Augmentative and Alternative Communication at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She is newly appointed as Professor and Otting Chair in Special Education at Indiana University and has extensive experience in severe disabilities and AAC in intervention, training and research in Africa and beyond.

Pre-requisites for the course: Intermediate level knowledge of developmental disabilities, for example, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, autism spectrum disorders and relevant teaching and intervention strategies are strongly recommended for the course.

For further information - please contact: Erna Alant (

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