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The Focus on Family and Disability series in conjunction with the UNC Chapel Hill Clinical Lecture Series will provide a forum for experts from a range of disciplines and perspectives to share their research, practice, policy, and personal experience about disability and family support issues. The lunch-time series is designed for a diverse audience including graduate students and faculty in such fields as social work, education, occupational therapy, speech and hearing, psychology, and public health; service providers; community stakeholders; and families.

Topics include timely issues related to disability and families such as: self-determination and independence; best practice in family support with individuals and their families; transition and post-secondary education; and promoting well-being and positive outcomes for individuals with disabilities and their families.

The lectures will be held on the second Tuesday of the month, from 12-2:00pm, beginning in September. Sign-in and a catered meet-and-greet lunch open at 11:15 am in the lobby of the Tate-Turner-Kuralt Building, at 325 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill, NC.

Scheduled programs

(click for printable schedule)

1. Tuesday, September 9, 2014 – Charting the Life Course Framework: Supporting individuals with disabilities and their families across the lifespan, presented by Michelle “Sheli” Reynolds, PhD

Sheli Reynolds is a sibling of an individual with a developmental disability and Director of Individual Advocacy and Family Support, University of Missouri- Kansas City, Institute for Human Development

2. Tuesday, October 14, 2014 – New Directions in Disability, presented by Chris Egan, MSW, CCSW

Chris is Executive Director, the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities (NCCDD), and previously Clinical Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work, UNC Chapel Hill, and Clinical Coordinator for the Developmental Disabilities Training Institute at the School of Social Work.

3. Tuesday, November 11, 2014 – The Parenting Spectrum: The Challenges and Gifts of Raising a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, presented by Sherry Mergner, MSW, LCSW

Sherry is AHEC Liaison and Clinical Assistant Professor at the UNC School of Social Work and lead social worker at UNC-CH’s Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities. Sherry is the proud mother of son with ASD and a son who is typically developing.

4. Tuesday, January 13, 2015 –  Two Roads Diverged: Creating Enviable Lives for Individuals with Disabilities and their Families, presented by Ann Turnbull, Ed.D and Rud Turnbull, JD, Ll.M

The presenters are Co-Founders of the University of Kansas Beach Center on Disability, a renowned hub of national and international research and development on contemporary issues impacting the quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families.

5. Tuesday, March 17, 2015-  Realizing the College Dream with Autism Spectrum Disorder, presented by Ann Palmer, BA Handout — Powerpoint

Ann is Family Faculty at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities is a parent of a 30 year old son with autism. She is author of three books: Realizing the College Dream with Autism or Asperger Syndrome: a Parent’s Guide to Student SuccessParenting Across the Autism Spectrum: Unexpected Lessons We’ve Learned, and  A Friend’s and Relative’s Guide to Supporting the Family with Autism: How Can I Help?

The Family Support Program promotes and provides support for families with children who have special needs through information and referral, education and training, model program development, consultation and technical assistance, research, and policy development. All lectures will be recorded and made available for viewing.

Please direct any questions to Barbara Leach at or 919.966.0396.