Susan Palmer

Courtesy Professor, Special Education
Primary office:
1200 Sunnyside Ave., 3103 Haworth Hall

Susan B. Palmer, Ph.D. is a Courtesy Professor at the Department of Education assisting graduate students with thesis and dissertation research related to individuals with disabilities.  Dr. Palmer is also Research Professor at the Beach Center on Disability and the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities both within the Schiefelbusch Institute of Life Span Studies at the University of Kansas (KU) in Lawrence. Dr. Palmer has been involved with research on self-determination for the last 20 years and also with research related to young children with disabilities through the Children’s School Success projects and Foundations of Self-Determination in Early Childhood the last 12 years.  She is currently President of the American Association on Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), an AAIDD Fellow, and past-president of AAIDD’s Education Division.  In addition, Dr. Palmer is on the editorial boards of the AAIDD journal, Inclusion and Remedial and Special Education

Dr. Palmer has a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Pennsylvania State University, a Master’s degree in Reading Disabilities from the College of New Rochelle (NY), and a Master’s degree in special education from the University of Texas at Dallas. Her doctorate from the University of Texas at Dallas in Human Development and Communication Studies focused on cognitive and social developmental psychology and disorders of learning. Prior to coming to KU in 1999, she worked at Richardson Development Center (TX) with families and their young children with intellectual and developmental disabilities before starting her career in research at The Arc of the United States in Arlington, Texas.

Susan Palmer works on life-span research, literally from early childhood through adulthood, including aspects of self-determined learning and improving the participation and meaningful inclusion of youth and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the community. She has either directed or been involved with numerous federally funded research projects throughout the last 20 years both at KU and at The Arc of the U. S.  Susan partners with a number of School of Education faculty members including Michael Wehmeyer, Karrie Shogren, and Eva Horn on research projects across the lifespan. Dr. Palmer has authored or co-authored numerous articles, book chapters, monographs, and other materials to support individuals with disabilities to become more self-determined. She also focused her research and dissemination work on supporting access to the general education through inclusive services in schools. Her preferred dissemination task is to work on projects of knowledge translation, so that academic writing, study results, and research findings are available for multiple audiences, especially families, teachers, and service providers.

Academic Degrees

  • Ph.D., Human Development and Communication Sciences, University of Texas, Dallas, Texas, 1989
  • M.S., Special Education, University of Texas, Dallas, Texas, 1985
  • M.S., Reading--Special Education, College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, New York, 1974
  • B.S., Elementary Education, Penn State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, 1969


Self-determination, Early Childhood, Access to the General Curriculum

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