Stephanie DeSpain
Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Education


Special and Early Education (SEED)



  • Ed.D. Illinois State University, Special Education
  • M.S.Ed Illinois State University, Special Education
  • B.S.Ed. Western Illinois University, Special Education


Stephanie’s research focuses on the assessment and use of supports to expand access to and success in inclusive settings across the lifespan for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She is interested in the use of supports to improve the quality of life of students during transitional periods and the impact they have on access to typical life activities. Stephanie’s research efforts have also focused on understanding practicing and pre-service educators’ understanding of different types of supports and how they relate to meeting the needs of students with disabilities in the general education setting.

Stephanie DeSpain is an assistant professor in early childhood education in the department of Special and Early Education. She received her doctorate in special education in 2016, specializing in assessment and supporting individuals with intellectual and development disabilities. Stephanie teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in assessment in early childhood special education, working with families of young children with disabilities, and methods for educating young children with disabilities.


SESE 423/523 Observation and Assessment in Early Childhood Special Education

SESE 424/524 Methods and Strategies for Promoting Development and Teaching Infants, Toddlers, and Young Children with Disabilities and Special Needs

SESE 426/526 Working with and Supporting Families of Young Children with Disabilities and Special Needs

SESE 418 Early Field Experience in Special Education: Elementary, Mild Disabilities

Selected Publications:

National/International Journals

Walker, V. L., DeSpain, S. N., & Thompson, J. R. (in review). Using the support needs and assessment planning (SNAP) process to implement Mand training. 

Conderman, G., Liberty, L., & DeSpain, S. (In press). Understanding accommodations, modifications, and interventions. Kappa Delta Pi Record.

Walker, V. L., DeSpain, S. N., Thompson, J. R., & Hughes, C. (2014). Assessment and planning in K-12 schools: A social-ecological approach. Inclusion, 2, 125-139, doi: 10.1352/2326-6988-2.2.125.


Thompson, J. R., Hughes, C., Walker, V. L., & DeSpain, S. N. (2017). Measuring support needs and supports planning. In Wehmeyer & Shogren (Eds.), Research-based Practices for Educating Students with Intellectual Disability.

Thompson, J. R. & DeSpain, S. N. (2016). Community support needs. In N. N. Singh (Ed.), Handbook of Evidence-based Practices in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. New York, NY: Springer.

Head photo of Stephanie DeSpain

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