Videos of the Exceptional Journey

Stories of Inspiration

At age two, Jake Barnett was diagnosed with autism and his future was unclear. Now at age 13, Jake is a college sophomore and a math and science prodigy. Jake says his autism is key to his success.

Guendling & teammates signed and danced his way through“Uptown Funk" to the delight of the hearing and hearing impaired crowd. “Special needs are very important and they’re no different than we are,” Guendling told Yahoo Sports.

As part of our continuing series "On the Road," Steve Hartman meets the Olivet Eagles, a middle school football team who took a fledgling player under their wing and executed what may be the most successful play of all time.

"Don't Limit Me!" Megan shares the importance of opportunity and skill building for all in a most animated and articulate manner. What a great performance from an aspiring public speaker!

In its 20th year of recognizing people and partnerships that make significant and lasting contributions to people's well-being locally and around the world, Auburn University's College of Human Sciences honored Tim Cook and Howard G. Buffett at the annual International Quality of Life Awards in New York City.

After suffering a brain injury as a toddler, Alonzo Clemons' way of learning, communicating and interpreting the world around him was forever changed. Very early it became clear to Alonzo that he had to sculpt.  Although institutionalized for ten years in a state hospital, he continued to find ways to make delicate figures with his hands. 

Public Policy

The court's decision could affect the educations of more than 6 million special-needs schoolchildren. Read more at
How much of a benefit do schools have to provide kids with IEPs? That's the question at the heart of the Endrew F. vs. Douglas County School District case, which was argued today in front of the Supreme Court.


Learn more about the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign from Special Olympics at Michigan State, and pledge to stop saying the r-word! 

Hope you find this video informative and makes you think twice before you use the R-word... Occupational Therapy Gannon University

Inclusion Works!

"Inclusion is not a right that must be earned; it is the natural state, for every person is born included!".  

Kathie Snow, Disability is Natural

This video highlights a pilot inclusion program for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities in Georgia.

So much of life depends on social bonds. Because of misconceptions and stigma surrounding disability, people with disabilities are sometimes seen as having little to contribute to life. When people with disabilities are excluded, it is harder to escape the cycle of poverty and disability, and not only are their rights denied but society misses out on valuable contributions people with disabilities make.

Thasya Lumingkewas, 8, has autism and thrives at Maple Wood Elementary School in Somersworth, NH. This film highlights the power of presuming competence, differentiated instruction and augmentative and alternative communication.

Every year since Kindergarten, Tana Vogele has been included in general education classrooms despite her significant physical and intellectual disabilities. Watch this compelling video about the friendships that have been nurtured during her 4th grade year and what inclusion does to a classroom and school community. 

This film illustrates the potential for students with significant cognitive disabilities to achieve high academic outcomes. Axel Cortes, a non-verbal 5th grader with autism and significant behavioral challenges, is integrated at a new school after being in a self-contained setting.  Within a few months, Axel learned 5th grade general education curriculum in his general education classroom, his challenging behaviors decreased and his interactions thrived with ‘typical’ peers. 

This three-minute video explains how the Common Core State Standards will help students achieve at high levels and help them learn what they need to know to get to graduation and beyond.

Youth Speak Out about Transition

College can be a challenging undertaking. Unfortunately, some students believe their disability is an insurmountable obstacle that will lessen their odds of achieving success at the college or university level. Some even feel their disability will detract from the overall collegiate experience.

"Dude, where's my Transition Plan?"                Young adults share a little about where they are in the transition process and steps they're taking to make their dreams come true. 

Heather Middleton's high school graduation took place without her. This 18-year-old special education student says her school has failed her and that she has not learned enough to graduate and go off to college.
Get to know Brian, a 20-year-old with autism, and his mother, Suzanne. Both will share their perspectives and experiences as Brian moved through his high school special education transition process to enter a community college and the world of work.

Mental Illness and Disability

Alex was diagnosed with autism when he was very young. Later, his parents were told he also displayed symptoms of mental illness — obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, psychosis and depression. For Alex’s parents, the search for treatment has brought them to psychiatrists and psychologists, to mental health centers and the community-centered boards that serve people with autism and other developmental disabilities. Nobody seems to know exactly what to do for Alex. 

An interview with Val Siaz, parent of child with a dual diagnosis, on the need for Respite and Coordinated Care.  Graham was first diagnosed with autism and then later diagnosed with bi-polar, anxiety and an intellectual disability.  His moods have been extreme and unpredictable.  Finding him help has been just as hard.