Erik Carter, Ph.D.
Associate Professor - Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University

Keynote Session ~

"Natural Support Strategies: Fostering Relationships and Community Connections for Transition-Age Students with Autism"

This presentation will address research-based and promising strategies for supporting transition-age youth and young adults with disabilities to participate meaningfully in activities and relationships that contribute to a "good life" after high school.

Emphasis will be placed on strategies for engaging natural supports - like peers, families, and community members - along with formal supports to help students find success in the workplace, college, and the community.

Learning Objectives:

After having attended this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • address practical and promising approaches for developing supports and fostering relationships among students with and without significant disabilities both in the classroom and throughout the broader life of schools.
  • implementing peer support strategies as an evidence-based approach for promoting curricular access and social interaction within inclusive classrooms and extracurricular activities,
  • fostering natural supports as an avenue for promoting inclusion in service-learning, after-school, and community activities.

About the Presenter ~

Erik Carter is an Associate Professor in the Department Special Education at Vanderbilt University and a member of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. His research and teaching focuses on evidence-based strategies for supporting access to the general curriculum and promoting valued roles in school, work, and community settings for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Prior to receiving his doctorate, he worked as a high school teacher and transition specialist with youth with significant disabilities. He has published widely in the areas of educational and transition services for children and youth with significant disabilities. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Early Career Research Award from the Council for Exceptional Children and the Early Career Award from the American Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

His research interests include adolescent transitions from school to adult life; peer relationships and peer support interventions; students with severe disabilities, access to the general curriculum; and religion, congregational supports, and disabilities.