James Thompson, Ph.D.

Professor, Senior Scientist, Beach Center on Disability
Associate Director, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities
Primary office:
Joseph R. Pearson Hall Room 514
University of Kansas

James R. Thompson, Ph.D. has over 30 years of experience in the field of developmental disabilities as a direct support professional, special educator, rehabilitation counselor, teacher educator, and researcher. He has authored or co-authored over 70 books, book chapters, monographs, and articles in professional journals, and has directed multiple federal and state funded research and model demonstration projects. His primary research focus for the past 15 years has been on support needs assessment and planning with children and adults with intellectual disability and related developmental disabilities. He is the lead author of American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’ Supports Intensity Scales (both the adult version and the children’s version), the first assessment tools to provide standardized measures of the support needs of people with disabilities. The Supports Intensity Scales have been translated and published in 13 languages, and are being used throughout the United States and world.

Dr. Thompson serves as a Professor in the Department of Special Education, Senior Scientist at the Beach Center on Disability, and Associate Director of the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities. He has previously served on the Board of Directors for the AAIDD and the Council for Exceptional Children’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Division.


  • Ph.D., Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota, 1994
  • M.S. in Ed., Educational Administration, Illinois State University, 1989
  • B.S. in Ed., Special Education, Illinois State University, 1980


  • Assessment and teaching methods with children with moderate/severe disabilities
  • Program evaluation
  • Contemporary issues and trends in special education


  • Support needs assessment and planning
  • Alternative assessment
  • Social-ecological models of disability

Selected Publications

Thompson, J. R., Shogren, K. A., Seo, H., Wehmeyer, M. L., & Lang, K. M. (in press). Creating a SIS-A Annual Review Protocol to determine the need for reassessment. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Thompson, J. R., Wehmeyer, M. L., Hughes, C., Shogren, K. A., Little, T. D., Seo, H., & Schalock, R. L. (2016). Supports Intensity Scale – Children’s Version: Users Manual. Washington, DC: American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Thompson, J. R., Bryant, B., Schalock, R. L., Shogren, K. A., Tassé, M.J., Wehmeyer, M. L. ….. Rotholz, D. A. (2015). Supports Intensity Scale – Adult Version: Users Manual. Washington, DC: American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Thompson, J. R., Schalock, R. L., Agosta, J., Teninty, L., & Fortune, J. (2014). How the supports paradigm is transforming the developmental disabilities service system. Inclusion, 2, 86-99. doi: 10.1352/2326-6988-2.2.86

Thompson, J. R. (2013). Presidential Address - Race to catch the future. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 51, 512-521. doi: 10.1352/1934-9556-51.6.512

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