Inclusion Works Conference

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A 2-Day Conference promoting inclusion and valued social roles in school, work, and congregational settings for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities

featuring Erik Carter, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University, Department of Special Education

Presented by the Arkansas Autism Resource & Outreach Center (AAROC) and Partners for Inclusive Communities at the University of Arkansas, the state University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD)

With special thanks to Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church

Partners for Inclusive Communities will provide support to one school team and one faith-based team to implement the programs presented at the conference.  The teams will be selected through a competitive process, with details given at the conference.


Day 1:  Friday, June 23, 2017

9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Friendship Matters: Supporting Inclusion, Relationships, and Belonging For Students with Intellectual Disability and Autism

Workshop Description

Relationships are so central to flourishing. Yet strong social connections and lasting friendships can be so elusive for students with significant disabilities.

  • What would it look like to design school experiences in ways that foster peer relationships? 
  • What supports do students need to participate fully in the social and learning opportunities within their schools? 
  • What practices should parents advocate for and educators adopt?

This interactive workshop will focus on the promise and possibilities of peer support and peer network interventions as evidence-based approaches for promoting the inclusion and social participation of students with developmental disabilities within inclusive classrooms, extracurricular activities, and other school settings. Learn about important elements for fostering relationships, as well as step-by-step approaches for implementing these powerful support strategies. And leave with practical tools you can implement in your school.

*Partners for Inclusive Communities is an Arkansas Department of Education professional development provider and ADE professional development credit is available for this workshop


Day 2:  Saturday, June 24

9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

From Barriers to Belonging: Including People with Disabilities in Faith Communities

Workshop Description

Churches are called to be places of hospitality, reciprocity, and belonging. Yet many congregations still struggle to welcome and weave people with disabilities into all aspects of faith community life—worship, learning, service, and fellowship. Unfortunately, barriers of awareness, attitude, accessibility, and architecture still abound. This workshop will address promising pathways through which churches can extend new invitations and provide compelling supports to people with disabilities and families in their community. Sessions will address:

  • Dimensions of Belonging: What it Means to Welcome Well 
  • Starting Points and Possibilities: Reflecting on Your Congregation
  • Better Together: Inclusive Religious Education and Children’s Programming
  • After the Benediction: Helping People to Flourish the Other Six Days
  • Community Conversations: Moving From Posture to Practice

This engaging workshop will equip you with practical strategies and helpful resources as you move deeper in this essential area of ministry.




Dr. Erik Carter

Dr. Erik Carter

About the presenter

Erik Carter, Ph.D. is a Professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He completed his undergraduate studies in Christian Education at Wheaton College and his graduate studies in severe disabilities from Vanderbilt University. His research, teaching, and writing focus on promoting inclusion and valued roles in school, work, and congregational settings for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and on evidence-based strategies for supporting access to the general curriculum for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He strives to ensure the best of what we know works penetrates the practices of local schools. He has co-authored six books—including Peer Support Strategies: Improving all Students’ Social Lives and Learning and Peer Buddy Programs for Successful Secondary School Inclusion—and more than 150 articles and book chapters. Dr. Carter also co-leads the Collaborative on Faith and Disability and the Putting Faith to Work project, and is the author of Including People with Disabilities in Faith Communities: A Guide for Service Providers, Families, and Congregations. He received the Distinguished Early Career Research Award from the Council for Exceptional Children, the Young Professional Award from the Association on University Centers on Disabilities, and the DADD Research Award from the Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities.