Reconceptualizing Behavioral and Mental Health Disability Services: A Model for Collaborative Practice
Jason Harris, Kavya Kandarpa, Mary Stepanek, Lori Vincent
In this presentation a discussion will be led by an Autistic advocate, which will incorporate his experience as a neurodivergent person with a background in disability studies. Two graduate students and one faculty member in school psychology will also partake in the conversation. The discussion will serve as a model for ways in which collaboration can occur between disability service providers and the disability community.
The presenters will examine how disability services can be reconceptualized from a deficit model to a strength and preferences-based model where neurodivergent people are central to the planning, implementation, and evaluation of services, specifically within the fields of psychology and behavior analysis. The presenters will discuss how input from the disability community is essential for professionals to evaluate their practice and ensure they are providing services in ways that align with their client’s goals and values.
Throughout the discussion, the school psychology professionals will share their experiences working with individuals with disabilities in the fields of psychology and behavior analysis as well as how collaboration with the neurodivergent community will shape their practice and research. Additionally, topics for discussion will include trauma-informed practices, social justice, empathy, and acceptance of identity.
Recommendations will be made for disability service providers to measure the validity of their services, specifically in relation to client goals and intervention procedures, with the overarching goal of providing more inclusive, culturally responsive services. As a content warning, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) will be discussed as part of this conversation within other topics.
About the Speakers
Jason Harris is an Autistic person, and advocate. He has a Master’s in Cultural Foundation of Education and certificate of advance studies in Disability Studies from Syracuse University. He was part of the 2017 AAPD summer intern class where he was place at NDRN. He started Jason’s Connection a social media page and website sharing resources, stories, and disability culture to over 300,000 community members. He has worked at the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University Law on Supported Decision Making and other projects. He now works at LADD a service agency in Cincinnati, OH as Director of Strategic Operations. He was a LEND Disability Advocacy Fellow at the University of Cincinnati 2021-2022.
Kavya Kandarpa is a fourth-year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at the University of Cincinnati. Kavya received both her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2017 and her master’s degree in Behavior Analysis in 2018 from the University of Georgia. Kavya has worked as a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst in community health and school settings. She is passionate about providing person-centered care that amplifies the thoughts and actions of her clients while focusing on respecting, autonomy, and safety. Kavya’s goal is to be a mindful advocate and a lifelong learner both in her professional and personal life.
Mary Stepanek is a doctoral student in the School Psychology Graduate Program at the University of Cincinnati. Mary received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from John Carroll University in 2020 and her M. Ed. in Behavior Analysis from the University of Cincinnati in 2021. She is currently working to become a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. She is passionate about collaborating with other professionals to provide person-centered services that focus on respect, safety, and connection. Her research interests include coaching school staff to implement evidence-based behavioral interventions with students in school settings. Mary is dedicated to providing services and conducting research to support individuals with disabilities in living meaningful, independent, and fulfilled lives.
Lori B. Vincent
Lori B. Vincent is an Assistant Professor in the School Psychology Graduate Program at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Vincent received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015 and completed her psychology internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the Kennedy Krieger Institute/Johns Hopkins University. She is a Licensed Psychologist, Board Certified Behavior Analysis-Doctoral, and a Certified Ohio Behavior Analyst. Dr. Vincent’s primary research interests include behavioral supports to improve the quality of life and inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in schools and communities. Dr. Vincent strives to conduct research and develop services with neurodivergent people to ensure this work aligns with the priorities and needs of the neurodiverse community and amplifies their voices.
- Maryland Developmental Disability Council (MDDC)
Disclaimer: This Summit was supported, in part by grant number CFDA 93.630, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects with government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official ACL policy.
- The Graduate School’s Office of Graduate Diversity and Inclusion (OGDI), University of Maryland