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Professional Resources

The DADD believes professionals who serve individuals with autism or developmental disabilities are ethically obliged to use evidence-based practices. Evidence-based practices have been subjected to careful scrutiny under high-quality experimental conditions and proven beneficial. The DADD also recommends professionals avoid disproven and unproven practices, especially when promoted using testimonials, social media, and other non-scientific sources. 

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Acknowledgements: We would like to acknowledge the hard work of the DADD Diversity Committee, with particular thanks to Claire Donehower, Stacey Hardin, Elizabeth A. Harkins, Meaghan McCollow, Tracy McKinney, Peggy Schaefer-Whitby, Tracy Sinclair, and Emily Stover


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice


Why this matters to DADD

Ableism perpetuates a negative view of disability by framing being nondisabled as the ideal and disability as a flaw or abnormality. It is a form of systemic oppression.

Learn More

  1. Ableism and special education
  1. How to incorporate anti-ableism in your classroom
  1. For your own learning and self-reflection
  1. Books for students

Young readers

  • Haddon, M. (2004). The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Vintage Contemporaries. 

Older readers

  • Beck, M. (1999). Expecting Adam: A true story of birth, rebirth, and everyday magic. Penguin Group.
  • Coates, T. (2015). Between the world and me. One World.
  • Cronin, M.E. (2014). Mermaid: A Memoir of Resilience. 1st ed. W.W. Norton & Company
  • Draper, S. M. (2010). Out of my mind. 1st ed. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
  • Higashida, N. (2016). The reason I jump: The inner voice of a thirteen-year-old boy with autism. Random House
  • Jennings, J. (2016). Being Jazz Jennings: My life as a (transgender) teen. Crown Books for Young Readers.
  • Silverman, A. (2016). My heart can’t even believe it: A story of science, love, and Down Syndrome. Woodbine House.
  • Whittington, H. (2015). Raising Ryland: Our story of parenting a transgender child with no strings attached. Harper Collins.

Why this matters to DADD

Children with autism, intellectual disability, and other developmental disabilities are not immune to racial injustice. For example, BIPOC students with developmental disabilities do not have access to the same special education services as their white classmates. Additionally, most special education practitioners are white and may not be equipped to incorporate antiracist justice in their daily practices.

Learn More

  1. Antiracism and special education
  1. How to incorporate antiracism in your classroom
  1. For your own learning and self-reflection
  1. Books for students

Early Readers

  • Amnesty International (2011). We are all born free mini edition: The universal declaration of human rights in pictures. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.
  • Higginbotham, A. (2018). Not my idea: A book about Whiteness (Ordinary terrible things). Dottir Press.
  • Kissinger, K. (2014). All the colors we are/Todos los colores de nuestra piel: The Story of how we get our skin color/La historia de por que temenos diferentes colores de p. Redleaf Press.
  • Memory, J. (2019). A Kids book about Racism. A Kids Book About.
  • Rotner, S. & Kelly, S. (2010). Shades of People. Holiday House.
  • Thomas, P. & Harker, L. (2003). The skin I’m in: A first look at racism. B.E.S.
  • Tyler, M. & Csicsko, D. L. (2005). The skin you live in. Chicago Children’s Museum.

Elementary readers

  • Alko, S. & Qualls, S. (2015). The case for loving: The fight for interracial marriage. Arthur A. Levine Books.
  • Alexie, S. & Forney, E. (2007). The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian. 1st ed. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
  • Celano, M. Collins, M., & Hazzard, A. (2018). Something happened in our town: A child’s story about racial injustice. American Psychological Association. 
  • Cohen, M. (2009). Layla’s head scarf. Star Bright Books.
  • Katz, K. (2002). The Colors of us. Square Fish.
  • Latham, I., Waters, C., & Qualls, S. (2018). Can I touch your hair? Poems of race, mistakes, and friendship. Carolrhoda Books. 
  • Lester, J. & Barbour, K. (2008). Let’s talk about race. Harper Collins.
  • McDaniel, B. J. & Evans, S. W. (2019). Hands Up! Dial Books.
  • Morrison, T. (2004). Remember: The journey to school integration. HMH Books for Young Readers.
  • Reynolds, J. & Kendi, I. X. (2020). Stamped: Racism, antiracism, and you: A remix. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
  • Rhodes, J. P. (2019). Ghost Boys. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Older readers

  • Edwards, S. B. & Harris, D. (2015). Black Lives Matter (Special Reports). Essential Library.
  • Guo, W. & Vulvhi, P. (2019). Tell me who you are: Sharing our stories of race, culture, & identity. TarcherPerigee.
  • Jewell, T. (2020). This book is anti-racist: 20 lessons on how to wake up, take action, and do the work. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.
  • Kuklin, S. (2014). No choirboy: Murder, violence, and teenagers on death row. Square Fish.
  • Mock, J. (2014). Redefining realness: My path to womanhood, identity, love, & so much more. Atria Books.
  • Thomas, A. (2018). The hate u give. Balzer + Bray. 


Intersectionality is a framework used to understand how multiple overlapping social identities (e.g. race, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or disability) impact and oppress certain populations (Crenshaw, 1989). 

Why this matters to DADD

There is a strong need for school practitioners to understand increased risks for students with disabilities because special education practitioners may only be considering this student’s disability status when determining curriculum or teaching and learning strategies. Students with disabilities may face multiplied oppressions due to their combination of identities (Bell, 2016). For example, an autistic student could also hold minoritized identities of race, gender, or socioeconomic status. Unless special education practitioners are purposefully identifying, analyzing, and incorporating their students’ full identities, practitioners are unlikely able to fully support and prepare their students for autonomy. We support intersectional contributions to the field and commit to educating others on the importance of intersectionality in special education.

Learn More

  1. Intersectionality and special education
  1. How to incorporate intersectional pedagogy in your classroom
  1. For your own learning and self-reflection
  1. Books for students

Early readers

  • Beaumont, K. (2004). I Like Myself. 1st ed. Boston, MA: HMH Books for Young Readers.
  • Ferri, G. (2016). Brick by brick. Minedition.
  • Gellman, E. & Mola, M. (2012). Jeremy’s Dreidel. Revised edition. Kar-Ben Publishing.
  • Harris, R. H. & Bernard Westcott, N. (2016). Who we are! All about being the same and being different (Let’s talk about you and me). Candlewick.
  • Nagara, I. (2017). The wedding portrait. Triangle Square.
  • Parr, T. (2009). It’s OK to be Different. Reprint edition. Little, Brown Books for 

Elementary readers

  • Hudson, W. & Hudson, C. W. (2018). We rise, we resist, we raise our voices. Crown Books for Young Readers.

Older readers

  • Creighton, A. & Kivel, P. (2011). Helping teens stop violence, build community, and stand for justice. Hunter House Publishers.
  • Perkins, M. (2016). Open mic: Riffs on life between cultures in ten voices. Candlewick.
  • Peters, M. (2016). Making it right: Building peace, settling conflict. Annick Press.


Bell, M. (2016). Teaching at the intersections. Teaching Tolerance. 

Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A Black Feminist critique 

of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and antiracist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 8.


Why this matters to DADD

Individuals with developmental disabilities face many barriers to accessing their sexual and gender identities. Historically, people with intellectual disability and/or autism were infantilized and assumed to have no interest in or ability for healthy sexual or gender expression.  They also have limited access to a comprehensive sexuality education, tend to experience limited opportunities to establish gender and sexual identity (Niles & Harkins Monaco, 2017), social relationships and skills (Perkins & Borden, 2003), self-worth, self-determination, and emotional wellbeing (Murphy & Elias, 2006), and are at increased risks to engage in unsafe or unhealthy sexual activity as well as at increased risk for sexual abuse (Balderian, Coleman, & Stream, 2013; Harrell, 2014; Krohn, 2014). Additionally, a study at the University of Cambridge Autism Research Center found that transgender and gender-diverse individuals have elevated rates of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, depression, learning disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia compared to cisgender individuals (Warrier et al., 2020). This means individuals with developmental disabilities face increased societal risks and vulnerabilities including multiple marginalization, exploitation, abuse, and limited opportunity to have positive gender and sexual health, rights, and safety.

Learn More

  1. LGBTQIA+ and special education
  1. How to incorporate LGBTQ+ in your classroom
  1. For your own learning and self-reflection
  1. Books for students

Early readers

Older readers


Baladerian, N. J., Coleman, T. F., & Stream, J. (2013). A report on the 2012 national
survey on abuse of people with disabilities. Spectrum Institute.

Harrell, E. (2014). Crimes against persons with disabilities, 2009-1012 statistical tables.
US Department of Justice.

Krohn, J. (2014). Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and students with special needs:
Crafting an effective response for schools. University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law 

and Social Change, 17(1), 2.

McCollow, M. M., Heroux, J. R., & Kemper, T. (2021). In Harkins Monaco, E.A., Fuller, M. C., 

& Stansberry Brusnahan, L. L. (Eds.), Diversity, autism, and developmental disabilities: Guidance for the culturally sustaining educator. (pp. 83-102). Council for Exceptional Children

Murphy, N. A., & Elias, E. R. (2006). Sexuality of adolescents with developmental
disabilities. Pediatrics, 118(1), 398-403

Niles, G. & Harkins Monaco, E.A. (2017). Supporting gender and sexual diversity through 

inclusive sexual education for students with IDD. DADD Online Journal (DOJ). 4(1), 177-189.

Perkins, D. F., & Borden, L. M. (2003). Positive behaviors, problem behaviors, and
resiliency in adolescence. In R. M. Lerner, M. A. Easterbrooks, & J. Mistry (Eds.), 

Handbook of psychology: Vol. 6. Developmental Psychology (pp. 373–394). Wiley.

Warrier, V., Greenberg, D. M., Weir, E., Buckingham, C., Smith, P., Lai, M. C., ... & 

Baron-Cohen, S. (2020). Elevated rates of autism, other neurodevelopmental and psychiatric diagnoses, and autistic traits in transgender and gender-diverse individuals. Nature Communications, 11(1), 3959.

Trauma-Informed Teaching and Learning

Why this matters to DADD

Children with developmental disabilities are at increased risk to experience trauma due to one or more of the following: 

  1. They are more often exposed to repeated medical procedures and hospitalizations which may entail pain, stress, and fear
  2. Communication and language barriers can make it harder for the individual to tell others what is going on. 
  3. Often, changes in behavior that may be symptoms of trauma can be mistakenly attributed to the individual’s disability
  4. Individuals with disabilities often have multiple caregivers, some of whom may exploit them and cause repeated trauma with long-term consequences
  5. Individuals with disabilities are less likely to be believed due to their disability
  6. Simply being viewed as different may increase the risk for trauma

Learn More

  1. Trauma-informed teaching and learning and special education
  1. How to incorporate trauma-informed teaching and learning in your classroom
  1. For your own learning and self-reflection


Horton, C., Evans, N., Charkowski, R., D’Amico, P., Gomez, M., R., Henderson Bethel, T., Kraps, J., 

Vogel, J., & Youde, J. (2021). Children with intellectual and developmental disabilities can experience traumatic stress: A fact sheet for parents and caregivers. National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. 

Last Updated:  10 March, 2024

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