For more than 50 years, the University of Kansas Life Span Institute at Parsons has partnered with national, state, regional, and community partners to:

  • Conduct research,
  • Develop model service programs,
  • Provide training for professionals involved in services to young children, youth and adults with disabilities, and their families, and
  • Disseminate information.

The Parsons LSI includes a component of the Kansas University Center on Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (KUCDD) and the Parsons Research Center.

The KUCDD, with core funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, focuses on activities that include exemplary client services, research activities and the development and dissemination of information to local, state, regional, and national agencies that provide services to persons with intellectual or other developmental disabilities and their families. Project activities include: early childhood intervention, assistive technology, family care treatment, behavioral crisis intervention, and respite and associated services.

Parsons Research Center is the research component of the LSI at Parsons and home base to a number of projects, many of which are funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Current research includes studies of reading; the effects of reinforcement variables on self-injurious and destructive behaviors; the treatment of sexual offenders; the effect of drugs on abberant behaviors, adaptive behaviors, and cognitive skills; and audiometric assessment for young children.


  • NIH-funded research to understand and develop novel treatments for self-injurious and aggressive behavior by combining laboratory and clinical research.
  • One of a handful of research programs on the development and assessment of early reading skills in students with intellectual disabilites.
  • NIH-funded training grant supports the participation of post-doctoral trainiees in the research programs of the Life Span Institute.
  • Assistive Technology for Kansans (ATK) was one of four programs invited to present to the US department of Education, and this project has provided technical assistance to 17 other states in 2012-2013.
  • Innovative program for support of foster and biological parents of children with challenging behaviors. This program has been identified to be replicated accross the state of Kansas.
  • Nationally recognized statewide training and technical assistance system for early intervention and early childhood special education professionals.
  • OSEP-funded research to develop procedures for teaching nonverbal chidren to complete a behavioral hearing assessment.
  • Joint Lawrence/Parsons project that is a part of the nation's only Early Childhood Personnel Center.
  • Joint Parsons LSI/KU Department of Social Welfare project working to develop strategies for early identification and intervention to reduce the effects of toxic stress on young children and their families.
  • Joint Parsons/Lawrence/KU Medical Center research studying the affects of propranolol in reducing self-injury and aggression induced by activity transitions in children with autism.
  • KU and KSU collaborate to operate the AgraAbility project to assist farmers and ranchers who have been injured acquire the technology to enable them to return to work.

By the Numbers

In the past five years, LSI at Parsons/staff provided direct services, training, or technical assistance (TA) to more than 83,786 people in over 450 communities in all 105 counties in Kansas. Last year, more than 15,141 (average over 19 years) Kansans were impacted through

  • Training,
  • Technical assistance, and
  • Conference presentations.

Each Year, more than 2,865 (average over 10 years) professionals have participated in out-of-state conference presentations by Parsons' professionals.

In FY 2013, LSI at Parsons' faculty and staff presented their research and technical expertise to:

  • 67 state, national, and international audiences,
  • 12 publications:

3 articles published, 2 in press, 3 accepted

3 technical assistance "Virtual Kits" packets

1 training manual developed

6 newsletters written

2 newsletter series produced and distributed

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
46 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times