May 2024

Utah Disability Today

The official newsletter of the Institute for Disability Research, Policy & Practice
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portraits, Sumika and Ann

Building Neuro-Inclusive Communities

The latest Developmental Disabilities Network Journal includes an article on building neuro-inclusive communities. The article is a great read that inspired some follow-up questions on how to creative more inclusive communities, workplaces, professional offices and friendships. Read authors authors Sumiko Martinez and Ann Carrick's answers on our blog. Both Martinez and Carrick are from the Autism After 21 Utah Project.

graduates are led by a bagpipe band during ceremonies in Logan

IDRPP Salutes 2024 Graduates, Trainees

Three bachelor's degrees. Two Ph.Ds. Forty-one URLEND trainees. See who marked a milestone in 2024 from the ranks of the Institute for Disability on our blog.

Three Continents, One Wheelchair

A remarkable story of how three countries and dozens of people united to help bring a customized wheelchair to a partially paralyzed girl began in 2022.

IDRPP's Joan Liquin delivered a wheelchair from the Utah Assistive Technology Program to Mexico--and due to an injury followed by surgery, she had faced her own mobility challenges.

"That made it very personal and meaningful for me because I had just gone through not being able to move around, even in my house," she said.

group portrait

Undergrad Research Highlights Mental Health Services Gap

Two undergraduate researchers, mentored at the Institute for Disability Research, Policy, and Practice, presented their award-winning work to understand a sobering gap in mental health resources during Research Week at Utah State University.  

Abby Julian and Lindy Strand received the Undergraduate Oral Presentation award in the Social Services and Education category. Their presentation, “We Are In A Complete Crisis: Navigating The Lack of Resources To Mental Health Care For Individuals With Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (IDD),” outlined a qualitative analysis of an open-ended question: “What challenges, if any, have you experienced with getting mental health services for your family member with IDD?”  

Portrait: Richard

Richard Chapman, disability studies scholar

DDNJ Podcast:


Dr. Richard Chapman, a disability studies scholar and licensed Mental Health Counselor, and Jessica Shuttler, a child psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center, discuss how principles of self determination and assessment apply to individuals with disabilities with IDRPP's Executive Director and DDNJ's podcast host, Matthew Wappett.

Read a summary or listen to the podcast on our blog. You can find the DDNJ Author Insights Podcast on Apple and Spotify.

portraits: Clay and Amy with a young child

News From Around the Institute for Disability

Pictured: Clay Christensen and Amy Henningsen.

IDRPP said some hard goodbyes to two former employees who passed away in April. View our tributes to Clay Christensen and Amy Henningsen, two dedicated people who put their hearts into their work at IDRPP. They are both greatly missed.

The Institute's Ty Aller raised some critical points about mental health and disability in this op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune. "While the conversation around mental health has commonly focused on school-based issues, LGTBQ+ youth and even adults following the COVID-19 pandemic, there continues to be a lack of concerted state-wide attention for one group: individuals with disabilities."

Melissa Malcom King, a Ph.D candidate, presented "From Within the Margins: Six Core Ideas of "Intersectionality" during IDRPP's Community of Practice in April. Read a summary or watch the video.

The National Resource Center for Paraeducators, Related Service Providers and Interveners held its ninth webinar in the 2023-24 Saturday Mornings with the NRCP training series. Over 500 participants are registered for either the recording or live attendance from 16 different states. To view upcoming sessions, visit their website.

Project ECHO has posted three new videos on Social Communication Pt. 3 (early intervention), Suicide Prevention (Mental Health Across the Lifespan), and Substance Abuse: 5 things to know about Naloxone.


Joana Franco, Ph.D, instructional designer and mindfulness coach

Two mindfulness courses offered

IDRPP presents two 12-week mindfulness programs this summer: Mindfulness Foundations and The Heart of Mindfulness.

Mindfulness Foundations teaches mindfulness through four main pillars: body, mind, emotion and connection. Benefits include greater life balance and reduced stress and anxiety. Training is offered on a sliding scale from $360 to $60. To register, visit the online MF registration page.

The Heart of Mindfulness teaches the qualities of being grateful, kind, compassionate, joyful and peaceful. Benefits include greater happiness and reduced levels of depression. To register visit the THM online registration page.

Both courses are facilitated by Joana Franco, Ph.D, instructional designer and mindfulness coach at the Institute for Disability. If you have questions, she can answer them!

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Stigma Awareness

Substance Abuse ECHO

May 8th

Find out more & register on the ECHO website.


Psychotherapy for Adults with Intellectual Disability: Guidelines from The Ohio State University Nisonger Center RRTC

Mental Health/IDD ECHO

May 13th

Find out more & register on the ECHO website.



Mental Health- Lifespan ECHO

May 15th

Find out more & register on the ECHO website.


Problem Solving Part B


May 20th

Find out more & register on the ECHO website.


Supporting Students who are Deaf/Blind in Classroom Settings

Saturday Mornings with NRCP

May 11th

More Information on the NRCP website


Social Communication Part 4

Early ECHO

June 5th

Find out more & register on the ECHO website.



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