This web site was established when I first entered the doctoral program with the Graduate School of Education (GSOE) at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), back in September 2008. Since then, I have earned a Ph.D. program in Education, with an emphasis on Special Education at UCR. This site now serves as a receptacle for information regarding my research, my interests, and other pertinent information about my professional life in academia.
My career in education began in 1986. I have served as classroom teacher and later as a music specialist in K-12 public schools. I have taught graduate and undergraduate level courses for educators on special education, learning theory, quality pedagogical practices, and music education since 1992. Furthermore, I regularly speak at international, national, state, and regional conferences on educational topics.
Although my background is primarily in general education settings, I have worked extensively with students with special needs (indeed, one of my first teaching jobs was working with elementary children with intellectual disabilities). As a general education teacher, I was often struck by the resistance of schools to assist exceptional children and was also intrigued with the need to provide them with quality services that would allow them to excel. I was particularly interested by the needs of students who were very bright but also had challenges that appeared to prevent them from learning. I was also concerned that my own pre-service training (that occurred a very long time ago) to assist this population was woefully inadequate. Over the years, I have worked with students with all types of exceptionalities and consistently sought to ensure that this population is provided with the education they are entitled to.
I have developed a particularly strong interest in assisting individuals with “hidden disabilities,” such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities. The educational needs of individuals with ADHD, inattentive subtype (in other words, students who have never exhibited any symptoms of hyperactivity) are especially intriguing as this population is often completely ignored by educators. Although the “official” term for the disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) continues to use the term “hyperactivity,” research strongly suggests that the majority of those with ADHD have never exhibited any “H.” Thus, it is inappropriate to suggest that hyperactivity is a contributing component of their disorder (and, therefore, the label “ADD” is justified).
Research is beginning to strongly suggest that ADHD and ADD may, indeed, be distinct disorders. It has been established that the educational needs of these two populations are different: students with ADHD have considerable problems with socialization due to their disruptive behaviors that interfere with learning but hyperactivity/impulsivity are not correlated with academic problems. Individuals with ADD, on the other hand, do not have any problems with disruptive behaviors (in fact, these individuals are often very unobtrusive), but they have significant impairments that negatively impact academic achievement. Schools, however, frequently fail to identify students with ADD because their lack of hyperactivity/impulsivity allows them to blend in with their peers. This presents many additional problems, as their attention deficits manifest in significant underachievement but, because these students are often extremely bright, they function as “average students.” The failure of schools to recognize the needs of students with ADD result in life-long problems. It is quite common for many of these students to be gifted and yet, due to their impairment, they are labeled “lazy,” “unmotivated,” “stupid,” “immature,” etc.
My research interests, therefore, are focused on helping exceptional individuals succeed. Although ADD/ADHD has been researched more than any other psychiatric disorder (including depression and anxiety), we still know very little about how to minimize symptoms in order to maximize academic achievement. One of my personal goals is to contribute to the body of research on how we may assist individuals with ADD/ADHD reach their potential. I hope that this site will document some of my accomplishments.