Reflections

As part of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's 50th anniversary celebration, families, researchers, staff, trainees, and others shared their reflections. View a sample below, and select "more" to view additional comments.

A reflection from a family
Tina Prochaska - Sibling

My involvement with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center has been through Tennessee Adult Brothers and Sisters (TABS), a support group for adults who have siblings with special needs. We are the first generation to grow up with our siblings kept at home, instead of being institutionalized. That brings many wonderful blessings but also brings challenges. TABS, with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, has helped us navigate this new course.

Tina Prochaska - Sibling

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A reflection from a trainee

I am the proud parent of four young children, one of whom has Down syndrome. Besides benefiting from their vast array of supports and services, I am currently receiving valuable research experience as a doctoral student in special education and receiving specialized disability-specific training through the VKC.

Thomas Boehm - Parent, Doctoral Student in Special Education, and VKC UCEDD Trainee

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A reflection from a researcher
Laurie Cutting, Ph.D. - Special Education, Psychology, Radiology, and Pediatrics

I became attracted to developmental disabilities research after working in the classroom. I wanted to understand what was happening in the brain when children were experiencing learning difficulties. Reading, especially understanding what one has read, is such an important life skill. In my lab, we’re trying to unravel the mysteries of how people comprehend well and what happens when they don’t. We’re also focused on which elements are the most important, such as vocabulary, understanding grammar, structures of text, type of text, and how all those things relate to different systems in the brain.  I wanted to join the Kennedy Center because my overall research program is highly relevant to the Center’s mission of improving the quality of life of children and adolescents with disorders of learning. The opportunities for collaboration with colleagues conducting similar research, as well as having access to the resources at the Kennedy Center, made me seek membership.

Laurie Cutting, Ph.D. - Special Education, Psychology, Radiology, and Pediatrics

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A reflection from a professional

[The VKC] is an absolutely amazing place to work, but more importantly, people here truly help to change lives for the better. I’ve worked here in some capacity since I graduated from the Master’s of Special Education program in 2007, and I cannot think of a better place to refer families who have a loved one with a disability. In my own work, we are helping high school students with autism and their families prepare for the transition from high school, and we are also helping faith communities as they support people with disabilities to find and hold employment.

Jenny Gustafson - Special Education Alumna and VKC Disability Professional

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