Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Spring 2024 

The Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities (BCDD) is celebrating its tenth anniversary throughout 2024. The BCDD invests in research, training, outreach, and clinical services that promote the flourishing of people with disabilities, their families, and communities.

BCDD opening for clients with child cutting a ribbon
2014 — BCDD opens to clients

Housed in the Baylor School of Education (SOE), the BCDD opened at 2201 MacArthur Drive on the first day of Autism Awareness Month, April 1, 2014, with a standing-room-only crowd gathered. From its inception, the BCDD embraced important collaborations across campus and beyond, including a partnership with McLane Children's Scott & White Hospital in Temple and other Baylor academic units.

The BCDD continues to offer services at the MacArthur location and encompasses two growing clinics: the Baylor Autism Resource Clinic (ARC) and the Clinic for Assessment, Research, and Education (CARE)  — each led by faculty members in the SOE’s Department of Educational Psychology.

Building upon its original goal of providing high-quality services to area children and their families, the BCDD’s impact has been substantial. It has hosted hundreds of Baylor students as they receive clinical training and conduct applied research in assessment and intervention for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. Students from nine different degree programs in three Baylor schools or colleges have done clinical hours at the BCDD, with the center serving as a primary training facility for graduate students in the Department of Educational Psychology.

Baylor grad student working with client in 2016 at BCDD
2016 — Therapy session with graduate student

The BCDD has been the home for numerous faculty research projects supported by national or state grant funding. Grant-funded research provides rich experience for Baylor students to participate in valuable clinical work and applied research under the mentorship of expert faculty.

Through generous support from an anonymous Baylor family, the addition of an endowed faculty chair has sparked a new era for the BCDD. Dr. Erik Carter joined the Baylor faculty and became the BCDD’s executive director in 2023, bringing a unique expertise in the exploration of faith and disability.

“At the BCDD, we are convinced that children and adults with disabilities have gifts, friendship, faith, and contributions that can enrich every community,” Carter said. “But their incredible capacity needs to be nurtured, supported, and shared.”


In this next season, the BCDD aims to become the nation’s leading research and training center focused on the flourishing of people with disabilities and their families. It has identified five signature areas for growth and impact.

BCDD student at the Transition Fair in 2022
2022 — First OSO Able Transition Fair

Inclusive education — One in seven children has a disability that substantially impacts their learning or relationships, so equipping and supporting teachers, school leaders, and related service providers in best practices is essential. The BCDD also will support Christian schools in welcoming students with developmental disabilities more fully and faithfully.

Faith and disability — The BCDD will call and equip churches to embrace people with disabilities and their families, serving as a hub for research, training, resource development, and theological reflection.

Transition to adulthood — Expanding post-school opportunities for students with disabilities is essential to their flourishing. The BCDD will develop new transition pathways and provide guidance for schools, employers, and community groups in supporting youth and young adults with disabilities.

People talking at BCDD's Disability and Church event in 2024
2024 — Disability & Church event for ministers

Family-centered practices — One third of all households have at least one family member with a disability. The BCDD will help parents, siblings, and other caregivers through expanded clinical services, practical workshops, and the creation of new resources. New research will focus on identifying and addressing key factors that enable families to flourish in all areas of their lives.

Interdisciplinary scholarship — Building upon its strong roots in the field of educational psychology, the BCDD is now engaging faculty from all across the university. Its roster of affiliated faculty has expanded to include disciplines as diverse as business; chemistry and biochemistry; communication sciences and disorders; health, human performance, and recreation; economics; curriculum and instruction; and educational leadership.


2024: Founding of Baylor Center for Developmental Disabilities and Founding of the Clinic for Assessment, Research, and Education (CARE)

2016: Dr. Kristen Padilla appointed as Director of BCDD, succeeding Dr. Terrill Saxon and Dr. Eric Robinson

2017: BCDD’s first foundation grant, Baylor CARE Behavior Support

2018: First state/federal grant: Caregiver Coaching telehealth support for rural Texas families and launch of Spring Literacy Clinic

2020: BCDD’s first million-plus grant, ACT LEND, a collaborative with other universities totaling over $2 million

2023: Dr. Erik Carter appointed Executive Director of BCDD and the Luther Sweet Endowed Chair in Disabilities

2024: Launch of BCDD’s first-of-its-kind Collaborative on Faith and Disability to catalyze inclusion and accessibility in religious congregations and faith-based schools



ACT LEND — $2.3 million

A partnership with University of Texas and Texas State and funded by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration, ACT LEND provides training in culturally informed diagnosis and support for children with developmental disabilities.

DIVERSE — $3.7 million

A partnership with Texas A&M and UTSA funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, Project DIVERSE is preparing PhD students to conduct scholarship focused on culturally and linguistically diverse learners with disabilities.

Project ¡LEER! — $3 million

A partnership with Texas A&M and UTSA funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition, Project ¡LEER! provides professional development to improve outcomes for English learners with disabilities.


PEAKS — $474,842

Funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), PEAKS offered Texas teachers specialized professional development in evidence-based practice for students with autism.

Caregiver Coaching — $860,564

Funded by THECB, Caregiver Coaching telehealth project provided research-based training for Texas parents and caregivers of children with autism through live online interaction with trained therapists at Baylor.

Sibling SUCCESS — $893,410

Baylor’s Sibling SUCCESS program, funded by THECB, encourages meaningful inclusion of siblings of children with autism within behavioral interventions with direct services for siblings, families, and professionals.


Thriving Congregations  $1.25 million

In partnership with Truett Seminary and Garland School of Social Work, the project funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc. helps congregations include and embrace young people with disabilities.

Worship as One — $300,000

In partnership alongside With Ministries and funded by Lilly Endowment’s Nurturing Children Through Worship and Prayer Initiative, this program supports churches and parents as they help children with disabilities grow in faith.

CARE Behavior Support Project — $30,000

A Cooper Foundation grant supported BCDD clinic renovations and materials for this work in addressing challenging behavior and feeding difficulties in children with autism.