Family Voices in Teacher Education

  • Peggy Gallagher
  • Cheryl Rhodes
  • Karen Young Lewis


  1. 1.

    Building parent-professional partnerships begins with listening to families.

  2. 2.

    The voices of family members represent diverse perspectives and experiences.

  3. 3.

    Family members have an investment in supporting the child with disabilities and can be utilized in teaching others how to best interact with the child with disabilities.

  4. 4.

    A variety of strategies and resources are available to assure that family voices are shared while training teachers and other professionals who work with children with disabilities.



  1. Appell, D. J., Hoffman, M. W., Speller, N. B., Weiner, P. L., & Meryash, D. L. (1996). Parents as Teachers: An Integral Component of a Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics Curriculum. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 17(2), 105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1977). Toward an Experimental Ecology of Human Development. American Psychologist, 32, 513–531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gabbard, G. (1998). Family Experiences: Ways to Lead Change Through Telling Your Story. Early Childhood Bulletin, Spr 1998.
  4. Gallagher, P. A., Fialka, J., Rhodes, C., & Arceneaux, C. (2002). Working with Families: Rethinking Denial. Young Exceptional Children, 5(2), 11–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Gallagher, P. A., Powell, T. H., & Rhodes, C. A. (2006). Brothers and Sisters: A Special Part of Exceptional Families. Baltimore: Paul Brookes Publishing.Google Scholar
  6. Gallagher, P. A., Schober-Peterson, D., & Rhodes, C. A. (2010). Collaboration with Families. In R. P. Colarusso & C. M. O’Rourke (Eds.), Special Education for All Teachers (5th ed.). Iowa: Kendall Hunt.Google Scholar
  7. Kingsley, E. P. (1987). Welcome to Holland.
  8. Klein, S. D., & Schive, K. (2001). You Will Dream New Dreams: Inspiring Personal Stories by Parents of Children with Disabilities. New York: Kensington Books.Google Scholar
  9. Kresak, K., Gallagher, P. A., & Rhodes, C. (2009). Siblings of Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities in Early Intervention. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 29(3), 143–154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kube, D. A., Bishop, E. A., Roth, J. M., & Palmer, F. B. (2012, September 18). Evaluation of a Parent Led Curriculum in Developmental Disabilities for Pediatric and Medicine/Pediatric Residents. Maternal and Child Health Journal, Published online.
  11. National Gateway to Self-Determination Web Portal. A Clearinghouse for Resources, Training, and Information on Promoting Self-Determination.
  12. Opening Doors to Self-Determination Skills, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Retrieved December 29, 2015., from
  13. Pacer’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment.
  14. Turnbull, A., Turnbull, R., Erwin, E. J., Soodak, L. C., & Shogren, K. A. (2011). Families, Professionals, and Exceptionality. Boston: Pearson.Google Scholar
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Selected Resources


    1. Pacer’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment.


    1. Where Are the Parents? www.parentcafe.


    1. A Minority Parent’s Perspective on Autism (Kennedy Krieger Institute). Mom Describes Her Experiences as an African-American and Mother of a Child with Autism.
    2. Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The multiple sides of autism: A parent’s perspective Father of a 15 year old and member of Canadian Parliament talks about raising a child with autism.
    3. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
    4. Dreams of Our Children—Autism—A Caribbean Parent’s Perspective. A Perspective from Parents of a Four Year Old Child with Autism.
    5. Families with Special Needs. Thoughts on Having a Child with Special Needs from a Mother of a Child with Down Syndrome.
    6. Raising a Child with Autism & Special Needs.
    7. Tell Me a Story Video Library contains 127 brief videos of parent stories. Examples: Challenges of Spina Bifida Unite Fifth-Grader’s Family, Bringing Nora Home (twin, heart defect and Down syndrome), and Special Needs Change Family’s Look at Life Google Scholar

    UK Resources

    1. Caudwell Children.
    2. Disability in the Family SeriesGoogle Scholar
    3. Family stories from the perspectives of father, mother, and sibling (brother) Google Scholar
    4. Contact a Family (UK).
    5. Parent Stories: A Mother’s Experience (mother of a 22 year old son with autism)
    6. Parent Stories – Away with the Fairies (9 min. documentary describes experience of a family caring for their 10 year old daughter with multiple disabilities)
    7. Parent Stories: Me and My Disabled ChildGoogle Scholar
    8. Part 1: Before the News; Part 2: The Early Years; Part 3: A Different Family Life; Part 4: Finding Support

Welcome to Holland Resources

  1. Holland Schmolland by Laura Krueger Crawford.
  2. Welcome to Beirut (Beginner’s Guide to Autism) by Susan F. Rzucidlo.
  3. Welcome to Yellowknife: A Subarctic Autism Awareness Day Analogy (Blog—mom’s experience of living with autism).
  4. Videos

    1. Holland, Beirut, Holland Schmolland (uplifting story of one family’s experience raising a son with autism).
    2. Welcome to Holland—(Parent Story Describing Prematurity and Physical Disabilities).
    3. Welcome to Holland (Performed by British Dad).
    4. Welcome to Holland—Raising a Child with a Disability Video (Young Girl with Autism).

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peggy Gallagher
    • 1
  • Cheryl Rhodes
    • 2
  • Karen Young Lewis
    • 3
  1. 1.Georgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Marcus Autism CenterAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Children’s Healthcare of AtlantaAtlantaUSA

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