Roundtable participants speak to attendees. Left to right: Tara Murray, Amber Greene, Taryn Mackenzie Williams, Valerie C. Williams, Sherman Gillums Jr., Shawn Aleong, Elijah Armstrong, Jalyn Radziminski, Neli Latson, and Raven Sutton.
Valerie C. Williams Director, Office of Special Education Programs
By Valerie C. Williams Director, Office of Special Education Programs
On Feb. 23, 2023, I participated in a Black History Month roundtable hosted by the White House and the Biden-Harris Administration.
During the roundtable, I had the opportunity to meet with five representatives of the next generation of young Black disability leaders and advocates.
The purpose of the event was to not only reiterate the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility and disability inclusion, but to also hear from young Black leaders about their experiences and challenges.
Dee Bosworth is a military spouse and mother of a twice exceptional child. Married for twelve years to an Active Duty Sailor, Dee was a Navy Command Ombudsman for six years, cumulatively. As an American Military Families Autism Support Community Leader and Florida Partners in Policymaking graduate, Dee is active in local, state, and national programs for persons with disabilities. Driven by the experiences of military families like her own, Dee is passionate about empowering military parents to advocate for a better world for our loved ones with exceptional needs. At home, she is mom, teacher, and telehealth therapy facilitator. In her work capacity, Dee supports individuals with disabilities and their families as a STOMP, Specialized Training of Military Parents Parent Instructor and Helpline Coordinator for Washington State’s parent and information center, PAVE.
ED: How did you begin your career in early childhood?
During my undergraduate work, I completed an internship at the University of North Carolina’s TEACCH Autism Program. From this experience, I knew I wanted to work with individuals with autism. I began my career as an inclusive preschool and kindergarten public school teacher. As a teacher, I was unaware of many specific interventions or resources used to support the social, language, and behavioral skills of students with autism. Fueled by my desire to support students with autism in classrooms, as well as the teachers serving those students, I began my doctoral program in 2008 at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I was fortunate to be funded through an Office of Special Education Program leadership grant: Interdisciplinary Preparation in Teaching, Research, and Service focused on Young Children with Autism and Their Families. When I graduated, I accepted a postdoctoral research position at 3C Institute, a small business that focuses on research and development. After completing my postdoctoral work, I returned to the University of North Carolina as a Research Scientist at Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute. At FPG, my work focuses on supporting the use of evidence-based practices for children with autism using a variety of professional development approaches including coaching and interactive, online modules.
Ms. Yetta Myrick is the mother of a teenage son with special needs. She is the founder and president of DC Autism Parents (DCAP), a non-profit organization. At DCPA, Yetta has created programs for children diagnosed with autism and their families and oversees the daily operations of the organization. Yetta serves as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Act Early Ambassador to D.C. In this role, she promotes developmental monitoring and assists families in getting the help they need to access services for their children.
October is Learning Disabilities/Dyslexia/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Month
Veronica and Myriam Alizo
When my first child was born I was a young and inexperienced new mother. My husband and I had just moved to the United States from Venezuela, and we were far away from our relatives.
I wasn’t sure if I should speak English or Spanish to our first daughter, and felt really perplexed. Everyone told us to stick to one language because children might get confused when they were spoken several languages at a time.
Once I realized my daughter had a speech delay and attention issues, I started to read everything I could about early child development. I felt very overwhelmed and isolated.
The pediatrician referred our child to an evaluation center in Miami where we lived. All our concerns and intuition were confirmed: our four-year-old child had some type of learning disability. The year was 1994, and I didn’t know anything about Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).