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Faculty Profile - Thomas Boehm

Dr. Thomas Boehm

Thomas Boehm, Ph.D.

Ann Haskins Assistant Professor of Special Education

On Faculty since 2015
630.752.5937



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Dr. Boehm brings over two decades of professional and personal experiences at the intersection of disability and faith to the Wheaton community. As the Ann Haskins Assistant Professor of Special Education, Dr. Boehm oversees the new special education endorsement program to equip a new generation of teachers prepared to serve the roughly 6 million students in the U.S., and countless more around the globe, who receive special education supports and services.

Dr. Boehm's interest in disability began as an early career professional working in the social services sector but was catapulted in new directions when he became the parent of a child with a disability. He went on to teach special education for students with significant support needs and in 2009 founded Faith for All, a non-profit dedicated to promoting and supporting inclusive faith communities. He was then invited to come to Vanderbilt University to help develop a line of research at the intersection of disability and faith where he earned his doctorate in special education. His dissertation research involved gathering perspectives from almost 900 families with a son or daughter with intellectual disability within two regions of the United States in order to understand and improve family quality of life.

Dr. Boehm enjoys cultivating what he calls, "Relational depth for Kingdom breadth," which involves pressing in to deeper relationships of transparency and authenticity to love God and others well for the sake of spreading the Kingdom of God here on Earth. He does this first and foremost with his wife and five children and together they are committed to building inclusive community whereby people at the margins of society are embraced with God's extravagant and compelling love. Please visit Dr. Boehm's website: http://www.tlboehm.com.

Vanderbilt University
Ph.D., Special Education, 2017

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
UCEDD, Long-Term Trainee

Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL
M. Div., Biblical Studies, 2000

Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
M. A., Counseling Psychology, 1993

Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
B. A., Pre-Med and Psychology (Honors), 1990

  • Inclusive Special Education Service Delivery
  • Family Quality of Life
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disability
  • Social Relationships
  • Faith/Religion/Spirituality
  • American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), Religion and Spirituality Division; Early Career Professional SIG
  • TASH (formerly The Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps)

Chapel Message: Feasting and God’s Rest (Mark 14:12-26) Holy Week
Wheaton College Chapel

Feasting on the Real Presence of God in Messiah is supported by finding life RHYTHMS that support intimacy in RELATIONSHIPS that bear the fruit of REST in our souls to the glory of God.
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Marklund Day School and Wheaton College have 'a unique partnership with great potential'
Chicago Tribune

This article, published in the Chicago Tribune, highlights the growing partnership between Wheaton College’s new special education program and Marklund Day School through a $7 million grant from the Ann Haskins Foundation.

Keeping Kosher: Jesus and Judaism at Wheaton
The Wheaton Record

The INFORMATIONAL only becomes TRANSFORMATIONAL when it is RELATIONAL. This article, published in the Wheaton College school newspaper, addresses the complicated and often contentious history between Jews and Gentiles in relationship with each other in reference to the Messiah, the King of the Jews.
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Faith community inclusion perspectives as a parent, scholar, and founder of Faith for All.
Video interview presentation for graduate level class, “Welcoming People with Disabilities in Faith Communities” (Invited), Institute for Human Development at University of Missouri—Kansas City and Central Baptist Theological Seminary

The implications of being created in God’s image for disability ministry
Presentation at the 1st Global Access Conference sponsored by Joni and Friends International Disability Center (Invited), February, 2015

Supporting faith and flourishing among people with IDD and their families: Lessons learned from a mixed-methods research project.
Webinar presentation for American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) (Invited)

Boehm, T. L., Carter, E. W., & Biggs, Elizabet, Faith matters: Encouraging spiritual expression of youth with intellectual disabilities and/or autism and their families
Presentation at the 12th Annual Tennessee Disability Megaconference, Nashville, Tennessee, June 2014

Boehm, T. L., Carter, E. W., Spirituality of youth and young adults with significant disabilities and their families
Presentation at the 38th Annual TASH Conference, Chicago, IL, December 2013

Gaventa, B., Carter, E. W., Boehm, T. L., Nord, D., Timmons, J., & Hatfield-Callen, J., Addressing diversity in backgrounds and support systems by honoring spirituality and congregational connections
Presentation at the 2013 Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) Conference, Washington, DC, November, 2013

Boehm, T.L., Taylor, C., Shouse, B., Faith and flourishing: Is it really better to give than receive?
Presentation at the 5th Annual Tennessee Brothers and Sisters (TABS) Conference, Nashville, Tennessee, April 2013

Including People with Disabilities in Faith Communities
Panelist at Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee’s Spirituality and Mental Health Conference (Invited), Nashville, Tennessee

Developing Special Needs Ministries
Presentation at Master Hope Special Needs Ministry Conference (Invited), Nashville, Tennessee

New Horizons
Keynote graduation address delivered at Middle Tennessee Home Education Association (Invited), Nashville, Tennessee

Inclusivity of people with disabilities in faith based communities
Presenter on a Panel Presentation at Gordon Jewish Community Center Special Event (Invited), Nashville, Tennessee

** Additional Presentations and Event Appearances
See CV linked above

  • Learning Differences (Introduction to Special Education)
  • Learning Differences Practicum
  • Characteristics of Cross-Categorical Special Education
  • Characteristics of Cross-Categorical Special Education Practicum

My research focuses on improving quality of life for individuals and families impacted by disability with particular focus on the role of social relationships and faith/religion/spirituality in shaping quality of life.

Current efforts involve improving inclusive special education service delivery through school-wide collaboration and expanding inclusive community supports through accessible and inclusive faith communities.

The multiple intersections of disability, family, and faith:

  • Inclusive Special Education Service Delivery
  • Family Quality of Life
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disability
  • Social Relationships
  • Faith/Religion/Spirituality

Current Projects:

  • Family Views on Quality of Life and Intellectual Disability
  • Wheaton College Faith and Disability Think Tank

Systematic review of informal relationships among parents of individuals with intellectual disability or autism, Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities
Boehm, T. L., & Carter, E. W., 2016

Being present versus having a presence: Dimensions of belonging for young people with disabilities and their families, Christian Education Journal
Carter, E. W., Biggs, E. E., & Boehm, T. L., 2016

Supporting congregational inclusion for children and youth with disabilities and their families, Exceptional Children
Carter, E. W., Boehm, T. L., Annandale, N. H., & Taylor, C., 2016

Goals for supporting families across the life course, Inclusion
Reynolds, M. C., Gotto, G. S., Arnold, C., Boehm, T. L., Magana, S., Dinora, P., …Lakin, C., 2015

Family quality of life during the transition to adulthood for individuals with intellectual disability and/or autism spectrum disorders., American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Boehm, T. L., Carter, E.C., & Taylor, J. L., 2015

Known for my strengths: Positive traits of transition-age youth with intellectual disability or autism., Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities
Carter, E. W., Boehm, T. L., Biggs, E. E., Annandale, N. H., Taylor, C., Logeman, A. K., & Liu, R. Y., 2015

In their own words: The place of faith in the lives of young people with autism and intellectual disability., Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Liu, E. X., Carter, E. W., Boehm, T. L., Annandale, N. H., & Taylor, C. E., 2014

Methodological trends in secondary education and transition research: Looking backward and moving forward., Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals
Carter, E. W., Brock, M. E., Bottema-Buetel, K., Bartholomew, A., Boehm, T., & Cook, J., 2013