How Did You Get Here?

How Did You Get Here? Students with Disabilities and Their Journeys to Harvard

Thomas Hehir and Laura A. Schifter, Foreword by David H. Rose, Conclusion by Wendy S. Harbour
cloth, 264 Pages
Pub. Date: March 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-782-8
Price: 70.00

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Pub. Date: March 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-783-5
paper, 264 Pages
Pub. Date: March 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1-61250-781-1
Price: 35.00

Add to Cart

When their children were young, several parents interviewed in this book were told “you can’t expect much from your child.” As they got older, the kids themselves often heard the same thing: that as children with disabilities, academic success would be elusive, if not impossible, for them.
How Did You Get Here? clearly refutes these common, destructive assumptions. It chronicles the educational experiences—from early childhood through college—of sixteen students with disabilities and their paths to personal and academic success at Harvard University. The book explores common themes in their lives—including educational strategies, technologies, and undaunted intellectual ambitions—as well as the crucial roles played by parents, teachers, and other professionals. Above all, it provides a clear and candid account—in the voices of the students themselves—of what it takes to grapple effectively with the many challenges facing young people with disabilities.
A compelling and practical book, How Did You Get Here? offers clear accounts not only of the challenges and biases facing young disabled students, but also of the opportunities they found, and created, on the way to academic and personal success.


Hehir, Schifter, and Harbour weave together sixteen inspiring stories into a single narrative with a powerful message: with the right expectations, accommodations, and support, the potential of students with disabilities is boundless. This book is a stirring reminder of our responsibility to ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn, succeed, and find fulfillment in their lives.” — James E. Ryan, Charles William Eliot Professor of Education and dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Tom Hehir has delved inside the disability experience to break down the stereotypes that all too often trap people with disabilities and deny them the opportunity to pursue their inherent potential. This book is a must-read for educators, parents, and students with disabilities throughout America. — Marca Bristo, President and CEO, Access Living

I cannot exaggerate how much this book resonated with me and with my experience working with students with disabilities. It is a book of stories embodying challenges and ultimate successes in a field that too often stops with stories about challenges. It should inspire and it should teach. All educators should read it. — Andres A. Alonso, professor of practice, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and former CEO, Baltimore Public Schools

All too often the world limits the academic opportunities afforded individuals with disabilities, and thus imposes a ceiling on what students with disabilities are able to accomplish. This timely volume celebrates the world of the possible by illustrating the impact that abolishing the ceilings makes achievable. — Mitchell D. Chester, commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

How Did You Get Here? Students with Disabilities and Their Journeys to Harvard is an inspiring must-read for all teachers, teacher candidates, administrators, and other professionals serving exceptional students, as it instills the important framework of Universal Design for Learning, self-determination, and other effective strategies for inspiring students with diverse disabilities. — Su-Je Cho & Ariane Rawanduzy, Teachers College Record

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About the Authors

Thomas Hehir is the Silvana and Christopher Pascucci Professor of Practice in Learning Differences at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Laura A. Schifter is an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Wendy S. Harbour is the Lawrence B. Taishoff Assistant Professor of Inclusive Education and the executive director of the Taishoff Center on Inclusive Higher Education at Syracuse University.