The Department of Special Education and Multiple Abilities (SPEMA) prepares students to serve as reflective decision makers in instructional settings for exceptional learners. The SPEMA faculty believe that a teacher preparation program should emphasize roles and responsibilities that integrate the strengths of learners, parents, general education teachers, special education teachers, related service professionals, and the community. A combination of learning opportunities that include a coordinated knowledge base, diverse school-based practicums, and internship experiences are designed to facilitate the development of logical, critical, and reflective thinking skills. These skills will enable students to synthesize information and conceptualize knowledge that prepare them as future educators to effectively plan, develop, problem solve, and implement programs for diverse learners.

Based on the fundamental belief that success is a function of the interaction between the individual and the environment, the over-arching goal of teacher education programs offered by the Program in Special Education and Multiple Abilities at The University of Alabama is the development, validation, and use of techniques for maximizing students’ (with and without exceptionalities) attainment of their full potential.

Department Head:  Dr. Nicole Swoszowski

Main Office:  201 Graves

Autism  Collaborative Special Education Early Childhood Special Education Gifted Multiple Abilities Program Severe




MASTER OF ARTS (Alternative Route)

The Alternative Master of Arts degree is aimed at students with an undergraduate degree in a non-teaching field who wish to gain an alternative A certificate which enables them to teach in the public schools.




Important Links


Dr. Yusuf Akamoglu

Parent-implemented Language and Communication Interventions

Dr. Lucy Barnard-Brak

Professor, Autism


Dr. Gregory Benner

Helen and Pat O’Sullivan Professor of Special Education, Implementation Science

Whole Child

Lisa Burgess

Instructor, MAP

Dr. Carol Donovan

Professor, Literacy Education & MAP

Reading and Writing Development
Reading and Writing Instruction
Teacher preparation for teaching reading and writing

Dr. Marissa Filderman

Assistant Professor, Collaborative Special Education

Reading Intervention
Data Literacy
Teacher Training

Dr. Olivia Hester

Clinical Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Kristine Jolivette

Paul & Mary Harmon Bryant Professor of Special Education
Children and youth with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support
PBIS within Juvenile Justice, Residential and Alternative Education settings

Dr. Jennifer Jolly

Associate Professor, Gifted Education

Gifted Education
Homeschooling Gifted Children

Dr. Kristen Lamb

Assistant Professor, Gifted Education
Equity and Policy Issues in Gifted Education
Role of Creativity in Talent Development

Dr. Erica Ogle Lee

Clinical Research Assistant Professor, Whole Child

Sharron Maughn

Instructor, MAP

Dr. Sara McDaniel

Professor, Collaborative Special Education

Behavior Intervention

Sylvie McDonald

Instructor, Special Education

Dr. Ragan McLeod

Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Education
Early Intervention
Early Language & Literacy

Dr. Robin McWilliam

Professor, Early Childhood Special Education
Evidence-based Early Intervention

Dr. Kagendo Mutua

Professor, Severe and Profound Disabilities

Dr. John Myrick

Clinical Assistant Professor, Collaborative Special Education

Dr. Sara Sanders

Assistant Research Professor, SPEMA

Dr. Nicole Swoszowski

Department Head and Professor, Multiple Abilities Program

Dr. Kimberly Tomeny

Clinical Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Special Education

Dr. Laci Watkins

Assistant Professor, Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Inclusive Education
Single Case Research Design

Dr. Kathy Wetzel

Associate Dean for Student Services & Clinical Professor, Gifted Education

Cadriene Whiting

SPEMA Office Associate II

Tamela Wilson

Program Assistant, SPEMA