Michael Wehmeyer

Ross and Mariana Beach Distinguished Professor in Special Education;Director and Senior Scientist, Beach Center on Disability; Co-Director, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities
Primary office:
785-864-0723
Joseph R. Pearson Hall, Rm. 518
University of Kansas
1122 W. Campus Rd.
Lawrence, KS 66045-3101


Michael L. Wehmeyer, Ph.D. is the Ross and Mariana Beach Distinguished Professor in Special Education and Associate Chairperson, Department of Special Education; and Director and Senior Scientist, Beach Center on Disability and co-Director, Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities within the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies, all at the University of Kansas. Dr. Wehmeyer has directed externally funded projects totaling in excess of $33 million conducting research and model development activities and personnel and leadership preparation activities pertaining to the education and support of youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He is the author or co-author of more than 370 peer-reviewed journal articles or book chapters and has authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited 36 books on disability and education related issues, including issues pertaining to self-determination, positive psychology and disability, transition to adulthood, the education and inclusion of students with severe disabilities, and technology use by people with cognitive disabilities. He is co-author of the widely used textbook Exceptional Lives: Special Education in Today’s Schools, published by Merrill/Prentice Hall, now in its 8th Edition. Dr. Wehmeyer is Past-President of the Board of Directors for and a Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD); a past president of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT); a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Division (Div. 33); and Vice-President for the Americas and a Fellow of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSIDD). He is a member of Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars-Alpha Pi chapter (University of Kansas) and an honorary alumni inductee of Phi Beta Kappa Arts and Sciences Honor Society-Beta of Oklahoma chapter (University of Tulsa). He is former Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remedial and Special Education and is a founding Co-Editor of the AAIDD journal Inclusion. He is a co-author of the AAIDD Supports Intensity Scale and the 2010 AAIDD Intellectual Disability Terminology, Classification, and Systems of Supports Manual. Dr. Wehmeyer has been recognized for his research and service with awards from numerous associations and organizations, including, recently, the American Psychological Association Distinguished Contributions to the Advancement of Disability Issues in Psychology Award, the AAIDD Research Award for contributions that have contributed significantly to the body of scientific knowledge in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities, the Distinguished Researcher Award for lifetime contributions to research in intellectual disability by The Arc of the United States, and the Burton Blatt Humanitarian Award from the CEC Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and the CEC Special Education Research Award recipient for 2016. From 2010 to 2011, Dr. Wehmeyer was the Gene A. Budig Teaching Professor in Special Education in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas. Dr. Wehmeyer holds undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Special Education from the University of Tulsa and a Masters degree in Experimental Psychology from the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, where he was a Rotary International Fellow from 1987 to 1988. He earned his Ph.D. in Human Development and Communication Sciences from the University of Texas at Dallas, where he received a 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Selected Publications

Wehmeyer, M. L. (2013). Beyond pathology: positive psychology and disability. In M. L. Wehmeyer (Ed.), Handbook of positive psychology and disablity (pp. 3-6). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Noll, S., Smith, J. D., & Wehmeyer, M. L. (2013). In search of a science: Feeblemindedness in late modern times (1900-1930). In M. L. Wehmeyer (Ed.), The story of intellectual disability: An evolution of meaning, understanding, and public perception (pp. 117-156). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

Smith, J. D., Noll, S., & Wehmeyer, M. L. (2013). Isolation, enlargement, and economization: Mental deficiency in late modern times (1930-1950). In M. L. Wehmeyer (Ed.), The story of intellectual disability: An evolution of meaning, understanding, and public perception (pp. 157-185). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

Wehmeyer, M. L., & Little, T. D. (2013). Self-determination, positive psychology, and disability. In M. L. Wehmeyer (Ed.), Handbook of positive psychology and disablity (pp. 116-136). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Wehmeyer, M. L., & Schalock, R. D. (2013). The parent movement: Mental retardation in late modern times (1950-1980). In M. L. Wehmeyer (Ed.), The story of intellectual disability: An evolution of meaning, understanding, and public perception (pp. 187-235). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

Ferguson, D. L., Ferguson, P. M., & Wehmeyer, M. L. (2013). The self-advocacy movement: Intellectual disability in late modern times (1980-Present). In M. L. Wehmeyer (Ed.), The story of intellectual disability: An evolution of meaning, understanding, and public perception (pp. 237-282). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

Turnbull, A. P., Turnbull, H. R., Wehmeyer, M. L., & Shogren, K. A. (2013). Exceptional lives: Special education in today's schools, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall.

Wehmeyer, M. L. (Ed.). (2013). Handbook of positive psychology and disability (M. L. Wehmeyer, Ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Wehmeyer, M. L. (Ed.). (2013). The story of intellectual disability: An evolution of meaning, understanding, and public perception (M. L. Wehmeyer, Ed.). Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Wehmeyer, M. L. (2013). Disability, disorder, and identity. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 51(2), 122-126.

Wehmeyer, M. L., Palmer, S., Shogren, K., Williams-Diehm, K., & Soukup, J. (2013). Establishing a causal relationship between interventions to promote self-determination and enhanced student self-determination. Journal of Special Education, 46(4), 195-210.

Wehmeyer, M. L., Palmer, S., Shogren, K., Williams-Diehm, K., & Soukup, J. (2012). Establishing a causal relationship between interventions to promote self-determination and enhanced student self-determination. Journal of Special Education, 46(4), 195-210.

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Human Development & Communication Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas, 1989
  • M.S., Experimental Psychology, University of Sussex, Brighton England, 1988
  • M.A., Communicative Disorders, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1982
  • B.S., Communicative Disorders, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1980

Specialization(s)

Self-determination, education of students with intellectual/developmental disabilities, access to the general curriculum for students with significant disabilities, and technology use and people with intellectual disabilities.


#1 public program in nation for special education
—U.S. News & World Report
2nd nationwide for most published journal articles in special education
Wayne Sailor directs KU’s largest grant, the $24.5 million SWIFT project, to develop a national center to assist schools
A $2.5 million grant will fund research on reasons effective technology tools are underused for students with disabilities
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
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