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This website is dedicated to promoting inclusive schooling and exploring positive ways of supporting students with autism and other disabilities. Most of my work involves collaborating with schools to create environments, lessons, and experiences that are inclusive, respectful, and accessible for all learners.


TASH: Three days of learning in Chicago

Posted on December 16, 2013 in Advocacy, Families, Inclusion

So I just experienced three days of learning about advocacy, inclusion, communication, support, and abilities right here in my backyard of Chicago, IL. The TASH conference took place in our wonderful city for the first time in over a decade. Unfortunately, visitors were welcomed with freezing temperatures and ice lining the streets!

The conference, however, was fantastic. I attended some dazzling presentations. Anne Donnellan and Pat Amos spoke about autism and movement differences (fantastic). Cheryl Jorgenson gave an inspired talk on common core state standards.


And Mike Giangreco spoke about designing new models for paraprofessional support. I have seen him present many times, but I learn something new every single time (and I love all of the inclusion-themed cartoons he sprinkles throughout his talks). In addition, I finally got to meet Jen Kurth, a researcher who is new to Kansas University and doing just incredible work in the field.

The first general session was one of the best parts of the conference for me. The Governor of Illinois received an award for deinstitutionalization,


Peyton Goddard, gave an emotional speech about living with autism, and Mary Gonzalez delivered a powerful keynote on the power of organizing for change. All of this and I got to sit next to another presenter-pal, Stephen Hinkle, during the session.

My own presentation was my opportunity to brag about my colleagues, Patty Daley and Patti Mackey, both from Howard County, Maryland.


I have had the pleasure of working with these talented educators for four years as they create more inclusive opportunities for their students. We talked about the innovative ways they support teachers and promote an ideology of “presuming competence” in their district (click here to download our PowerPoint presentation on this topic). The best part, however, was taking them out in Chicago to celebrate with many wonderful advocates afterwards including Sheila Danaher, Michael Shulz, Jen Kurth, Jody Pirtle, and Alison Zagona. It was one of my favorite TASH experiences yet.

Finally, I loved seeing all of the new TASH attendees and getting to see the experience through their eyes. I spent quite a bit of time with two impressive young teachers, Stephanie and Eric, from St. Benedict’s Preparatory School here in Chicago. They were tireless and did not seem to miss an opportunity to learn…you can actually almost see their energy in this photo!


Did you attend TASH? If so, any favorite moments?


  1. From Patty Daley on 16 Dec 2013

    What a fantastic TASH conference in Chicago! I enjoyed telling the Howard County Public School System “Presuming Competence” story with Patti Mackey and Paula Kluth. I made a new friend in Jack, a 10 year old student from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who was attending his first TASH conference. A shout out to you, Jack! Sheila and MIke, keep up the good advocacy work! Paula, you were a great hostess to us. Many thanks.

  2. From Julie B on 17 Dec 2013

    Will any videos or handouts from this conference be made available online? Would love to learn more. Thank you.

  3. From Kelly Schuler on 17 Dec 2013

    How do I find out more information about the TASH conference in the future?

  4. From Paula Kluth on 19 Dec 2013

    Hi Julie and Kelly-
    Our notes (my group) are in the post above, but other speakers may have handed out hard copies or posted on their own sites. I don’t think Tash has one spot for note, unfortunately.

    For more on TASH, go to or to their Facebook page if you want to get their updates.

    There are some state chapters too, ladies and you can learn more about that on tash. org too.

    Hope that helps.

  5. From Janet Sauer on 22 Jul 2014

    HI Paula, I hope you bring your wonderful work to the AERA conference in Chicago in spring, 2015.