Vaibavi Gopal, Master of Management Studies

Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities
Rhode Island College
600 Mount Pleasant Avenue
Providence, RI 02908
Phone: 401-456-8072
Email: [email protected]
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Last Updated: May 16, 2023

Vaibavi Gopal

Project/Program/Clinic Contacts: Family Support Specialist
Discipline(s): Family Member/Community Member
Self Advocacy
Person Centered Thinking
AUCD Council Membership: No Council Membership
Research: Currently working on the concept of Person centered thinking, through research and participation in Community of practice. Also instruction (co teaching this course)
Education: While my education background is in management, most of my learning comes through lived experience as a parent with a child with I/DD. I also learn a lot from attending seminars, webinars, reading and other research avenues.
Service: I work with my community informally in advising them on IEPs and other daily challenges people might face. I also am working on the Person thinking Guide.


Vaibavi Gopal

[email protected]

I am a special needs mom, with a wonderful child with Autism and Intellectual disability. I am currently passionate about spreading the word about concepts like Person Centered Thinking, Supported-Decision Making and Self-Determination. I am actively trying to learn all there is in the field of support and services for children and adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and hope to keep at it. My hope is to one day contribute to the endeavor of helping fellow citizens with I/DD and families achieve a fulfilling life.


I have navigated systems in India and the US (two different states) to find support for us personally. I can appreciate the difference in culture and the nuances of navigating the system.  I am myself from a different culture and an immigrant and had to learn to do this personally after we landed here. We have done this twice since we moved states. I have volunteered in a few events related to the special needs community in RI and the US. I have presented to my local school committee on Person centered thinking for IEP team.  I have also presented to a group of Indian parents with Special needs kids, on ‘Understanding systems of supports for school age children’ and regularly counsel parents who reach out to me for assistance. I am also familiar with how to use strategies to navigate the AAC journey through personal experience and counsel some families on this on a regular basis.


2022 – Present

Family Support specialist, Sherlock center


2021 August –

Member, Sherlock Sentinels Advisory Committee

2018- – now

Member, Local special Education Advisory committee





Master of Management Studies, BITS, Pilani India

It was an accelerated course that covered basic STEM courses and an MBA in Internet Marketing.


RI lend, CNDC

I was part of the RI LEND cohort for the year 2019-2020.


2020 Spring


Audited a course on SPED 566: Autism and Positive Behavior Supports


Fall 2021

Person centered facilitator training, Sherlock Center


Fall 2021- June 2022

Sherlock Center Trainee



I also routinely sign up and attend many training opportunities that I can access online. Some of them include the STAR RAFT Project, by David Wetherow, Autism Explained Online summit, RIPIN training programs, Sherlock Center’s Community of Practice in Autism in Rhode Island etc.



  • Parent of a child with Intellectual disability
  • Advocate of my child and all children who need support.
  • Strong proponent of Person centered thinking and Self Determination.
  • Passionate about understanding and improving systems of support.
  • Understand how different communications work, from personal experience. Attended online training on AAC device use and use it at home.
  • Empathy and strong belief in the rights for ALL individuals



March 2022- PRESENT

Buddy match, We Embrace


SEP 2021- MAY 2023



JUNE 2021 –

Mentor and volunteer at Desi Parents Network (A group by and for People of south asian origin who have loved ones with varying diablities)


August 2021 –

Volunteer, Camp Wannagoagain, Autism Project



My team created a Parent Preparedness Passport for Crisis and Tips sheet for emergencies. These were both intended for parents. (Done as part of our LEND project)



Currently working on


I am currently working on different ways to take Person centered Thinking concepts to all in our state that might be interested in learning about it. This might include self-advocates, parents, care givers, DSPs, teachers, specialists and anyone else who might be interested in learning about it. I am also working on rewriting the Person-Centered Thinking Guide. I am working with Mary Madden on these.





Pamela Donor, RIPIN                                                                                     [email protected]


Sue Jewel, Autism Project                                                                           [email protected]   


Shannon Dowd Eagle, Sherlock Center                                                  [email protected]


Minerva Ortiz, CNDC                                                                                      [email protected]


Nicole Bucka, MTSS specialist                                                 [email protected]


Mary Madden, Sherlock Center                                                                [email protected]


Andrew McQuaide                                                                                            [email protected]