Kodey Toney is the director of the Pervasive Parenting Center, an OSEP-funded Community Parent Resource Center in eastern Oklahoma that helps families support their children with disabilities. He is also the aRPy ambassador for Oklahoma. Most importantly he is a father and husband. He and his wife Jennifer have two sons, Konner and Kruz. Kodey has received multiple awards for his advocacy and has helped to train more than 3000 educators on autism behavior in the classroom and disability acceptance. Kodey has a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Rogers State University and a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from East Central University. He is also a graduate of the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking program and William and Mary’s Institute of Special Education Advocacy.
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.
Sadia Batool is a physician with a current focus on supporting families and professionals in Early Childhood Systems. Her passion for Early Childhood systems stems from her personal experience of receiving life changing early intervention services for her daughter with autism.
Supporting Military Families with Young Children
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.
A Father’s Engagement
Justin Brown is an adoptive father of a 4-year-old boy, and a foster father to two 2-year-old boys. He works as a youth minister for St. Agnes Parish in Dalton, MA and is the co-director of Camp Holy Cross in Goshen, MA. Justin first became involved in early intervention when his 4-year-old was referred for services at 18-months-old. He has become a strong advocate for the strengths and needs of his children and enjoys wrestling, cooking, and going for walks with them.
Throughout June we will celebrate the graduating high school class of 2020. This final blog in the series highlights a student from a private high school in Maryland.
Congratulations Graduate! A Spotlight on Joe McFadden.
By Pauline Peticlerc and Joe McFadden
Joe was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old. He did not speak until age five, and we were told he may never learn to potty train. Fortunately, he was born with great fortitude and never let his disability stand in his way.
Alicia Brewer Curran works at the University of Missouri, where she is the director of operations for the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) Autism Program, and serves as a parent panelist on three expert hub teams. Additionally, she is the family faculty member for the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program, program manager and quality improvement lead for the Autism Learning Health Network (AHLN), and the CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. ambassador for Missouri.
ED: How did you begin your career in early childhood?
My interest in early childhood began after my son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Due to lack of knowledge, I didn’t realize how concerned I should be about the differences I observed in his development, and I didn’t recognize that these differences were the early symptoms of autism. That resulted in my son losing out on two years of early intervention services.
The Power of Parental Engagement
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.