Karen Irick: I am Karen Irick, mother of an adult daughter with cerebral palsy. Twenty-nine years ago I left the banking industry on Wall Street in New York and moved back home to South Carolina. In 1992, I began my work at the South Carolina University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD), Center for Disability Resources, as an information and referral specialist. Since that time I have served as the Part C – IDEA Parent Liaison/Trainer & Technical Assistance staff and continue to serve as the Consumer Advisory Council & Parent/Consumer Liaison Trainer & Technical Assistance staff. Additionally, I currently serve as the South Carolina Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (SC LEND) Family Faculty/Core Director.
I am a 1998 Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Public Policy Fellow Finalist. I am one of the co-founders of Family Connection South Carolina, a support network for families of children with special health care needs and a past board member of PRO-Parents (the South Carolina Part C – IDEA Parent Information and Resource Center). Throughout my career in the field of disability, I have served as a Head Start monitoring and on-site reviewer and a grant reviewer for the U.S. Department of Education. I continue to serve as a grant reviewer and monitoring and technical assistance site reviewer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and serve in various capacities on other local, state, and national disability organizations.
Since my daughter’s diagnosis, I have been trying to understand the adverse birth outcome she has experienced. I found myself moving my family from South Carolina to New York seeking better services for her in the early 1980’s. I wish I could have been identified as a mother at risk for preterm birth. Quite possibly, with that information, we may have been able to prevent her diagnosis. As such, I have always had this need to understand what potentially could have gone wrong. My interest in the cause(s) of cerebral palsy has been reignited since my introduction to CPRN. I am even particularly curious about the causes of cerebral palsy and its possible correlation to other conditions such as autism. But more importantly, my interest is in the prevention of cerebral palsy.