Bios & Presentations
A specific presentation can be developed or for abstracts of existing presentations please see below. Please contact Gail Williamson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Available for speaking engagements anywhere in the world.
Sean speaks independently to groups about his life experiences.
Sandra and Sean also present together the stories of Sean's educational experiences.
Sean McElwee is 24 years old and happens to have Down syndrome. Sean is an entrepreneur, creating t-shirts with his funny sayings that can be seen at seanese.com. He also works at a trampoline park and enjoys public speaking, encouraging his audiences to never give up on their dreams. Living in his own apartment with supported living staff facilitating his independence, Sean loves making his own decisions and eating bean and cheese burritos every single day. He is a self-professed ladies man, a gifted athlete and has dance moves that own the floor. Sean is a cast member for the Emmy-Winning A&E Television show, “Born This Way.”
Sandra Assimotos McElwee is an advocate for unborn babies with Down syndrome and created one of the first websites for parents with a prenatal diagnosis. Author of three books written about her son Sean, “Who’s the Slow Learner? A Chronicle of Inclusion and Exclusion,” Who’s the Slow Learner? Adventures in Independence,” And “My Name is Sean and I have Something to Share.” She also contributed to “Gifts: Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Our Lives,” Married over twenty-five years to Sean’s father, Rick , they enjoy traveling and participating in Sean’s sports activities. Sandra is Sean’s employee in his business, her title, “Chief Dream Facilitator.” Also a medical sales professional her most important job is being Sean’s mother.
The following presentations have been prepared, but customized presentations can be accommodated:
Transforming a School
Sean McElwee was born with Down syndrome and entered his neighborhood school as a fully included kindergarten student with the supports, accommodations and modifications he needed to be successful. He was included in all aspects of his elementary school; learned to read, excelled in math, performed in Talent Shows and most of all made many friends. Sandra and Sean will share the story of pioneering his inclusion with the result of transforming an entire elementary school from segregated special day classes to all students with disabilities becoming included in regular education classes. Sandra authored the book, “Who’s the Slow Learner? A Chronicle of Inclusion and Exclusion,” the first book to follow a student with special educational needs’ educational journey from preschool through high school graduation. Sean will end the presentation with an update of what he is doing as a 21 year old adult.
Examine the Evidence–20 Years of Inclusive Education Studies
Over 20 years of research has consistently demonstrated that the inclusion of students with disabilities in the general education classroom results in favorable outcomes— for all students including those with “mild” disabilities, “severe” disabilities and peers with no disabilities. Parents and educators will learn the main points of the Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education’s Inclusive Education Research and Practice Study while Sandra tells the story of Sean’s inclusion in elementary school Sean’s experiences correlate and support the evidence of the study. Sean was an inclusion pioneer in elementary school, the first student with an intellectual disability to be included in regular education classes. His inclusion transformed the school into an inclusive school. Sandra and Sean’s experiences correlate and support the evidence of the study.
Sean McElwee will end the presentation with an update of what he is doing as a 21 year old adult.
Develop a Vision of the Future (Preparation for Inclusive Education)
Sean McElwee was the first student with an intellectual disability fully included in his neighborhood elementary school. . There are currently over 200 college programs nationally available for students with intellectual disabilities. Parents will be encouraged to dream big and plan for their child to attend one of the college programs for students with disabilities in order to be prepared from the beginning. Developing a vision for the future is critical to establishing long term goals that drive the IEP goals and many times the placement in inclusive classrooms for students with intellectual disabilities. Parents will learn how to prepare for elementary school inclusion by becoming familiar with the law, they will learn about the areas where they can become involved in their schools and districts. Parents will understand who the key decision makers in both the school and district who are able to make decisions and facilitate the implementation of the IEP to ensure these people are included when setting up their IEP team. Examples of home to school to home communication sheets will be presented. A list of supplementary aides and services that are provided for in the law will be reviewed. Introducing a student with a disability to their typical peers is an important aspect of inclusion. From around 4 to 8 years old children can incorrectly perceive that they can ‘catch’ the disability as one might catch a cold. In this session parents will create an outline of a book they can use to make their own book to introduce their child to their typical classmates. Parents will be encouraged to collaborate with other parents within their district and school. Finally ideas of ways to encourage, motivate and appreciate the educators who support their children’s successful inclusion will be offered. Sean McElwee will end the presentation with an update of what he is doing as a 21 year old adult.