Ciara Ousley

Ciara OusleySpecial Education (Penn State University)

Background: I received my B.S. in Elementary Education and Special Education from The University of Nebraska – Lincoln and my M.S. in Special Education with an endorsement in Autism Spectrum Disorders from Saint Joseph’s University. Prior to beginning my doctoral studies, I taught in Elkhorn, Nebraska and Athens, Ohio where I worked with individuals with varying developmental disabilities. The students I worked with had significant difficulties with communication and challenging behavior. Throughout my experiences, I discovered the power of communication for individuals with complex communication needs and the importance of being able to generalize those skills across settings.

Current Interests: I am interested in increasing communication skills through the use of literacy interventions for individuals with complex communication needs. Other areas of interest include integration/inclusion of individuals with complex communication needs within general education classrooms/with typical peers, and the generalizability of skills across environments (e.g., home).

Dissertation Chairs: Dr. David McNaughton and Dr. Tracy Raulston

With the push for inclusive and least restrictive environments for all individuals with disabilities (IDEA, 2004), individuals with more severe disabilities, such as intellectual disabilities, have not been included at the same rate as other disability categories, such as learning disabilities and emotional disturbance (McLeskey, Landers, Williamson, & Hoppev, 2012). I would like to explore the perspectives of service personnel to have a better understanding of what is going well with curriculum adaptation in schools and what barriers exist. This qualitative study will help set the stage for future projects I have in mind that include adapting text for individuals with CCN that are included in general education settings.


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