About Me

Debbie Drennan

My personal story and my professional story are very intertwined. Experiences outside of work often shape one's career, but I think this is especially true in my case -- and I believe my stories give me a powerful perspective to help others in a meaningful way.

The lesson that I’ve learned from working with my children and others who are in similar situations is that everyone has gifts and abilities. Everyone can lead a meaningful life, be fully-included, and belong.  

Debbie working with a family discussing how tech can be used to assist clients with disabilities

It is my mission....

...to provide information, training, coaching and evaluations to young children with disabilities and older adults on assistive technology tools and strategies that can help them be heard and contribute in a meaningful way.

My Personal Story

Life Lessons

I’ve learned many life lessons through the eyes of a child, as a medical social worker, as a mom with children who have disabilities, and as a caregiver whose mom is suffering from dementia.

As a child growing up, I moved both nationally and internationally because of my father’s job. This taught me two important things: 1) being comfortable by myself, and 2) accepting and appreciating all different people. 

My early career working as a medical social worker in a local hospital also played a key role in shaping how I see life and the legacy that I want to leave behind – with no regrets.

I worked in the Emergency Room with people who were dying, who were suffering life-changing trauma, and who were going through a crisis.  Some of the most powerful lessons that I learned were by being with a person who was reaching the end of his/her life, and with their family and/or loved ones.  

The interesting perspective that I learned about life then was that no one who was dying ever said they wanted more things. It was always more time with those whom they love, and that they wished they could have done more for and with them.  

Another funny part is that people will pass in the same way they had lived. If someone was a fighter all their life, they will continue to fight to the end.  If someone was angry and cantankerous all the time - they will stay that way until the end.  

Powerful stuff. 

From these collective experiences, I learned to focus on helping others, being with them when they are in need, and being authentic and present to people that I love and care about. These experiences shaped my life lessons.

My Life’s Work

My children led me to this career path.  I was a medical social worker when my first son was born.  I had a normal pregnancy; he was born two weeks after his due date. As a result, he was too big for me to push out.  He nearly died at birth, and spent 32 days in the new-born intensive care unit (NICU), fighting for his life.  

As we were raising him, we realized that he had cerebral palsy , which became a life-altering diagnosis for me, and especially,  for him. I wanted to be sure he could live the best life possible, and I worked on finding his strengths and abilities, even when all the specialists were telling me what he couldn’t do.  Through accessing the right assistive technology tools and strategies, he began to shine, and continues to thrive as an independent adult.  He has become an amazing person and others see his gifts too!

My other son, who has ADHD, was struggling as early as pre-school. Similarly, through accessing the right assistive technology tools and strategies, he also shone through and finished his schooling successfully, which has led him to where he is today- also an independent adult, whose gifts shine through. 

The lesson that I’ve learned from working with my children and others who are in similar situations is that everyone has gifts and abilities. Everyone can lead a meaningful life, be fully-included, and belong.  

My sons’ struggles became my life's work, and that’s what gets me going every day. I strive to create an impact that I’m proud of and live a life with no regrets.

My Life’s Work Moving Forward

As I age, helping my mom who is struggling with dementia made me realize there is yet another underserved population who deserves inclusivity and belonging. 

The elders in our world have so many gifts, knowledge and talent to share, and age-related conditions should never stop them from sharing those gifts.  With the right assistive technology tools, strategies, and personalized coaching, they can continue to share those gifts.

While I continue to work with families and their children who have disabilities, I also want to serve our elders and help their families and/or caregivers access the right tools, and get the support they’ll need to stay connected in this evolving digital world.

My Professional Story

I received my Bachelors's in Developmental Psychology as well as my Bachelors's in Sociology from the University of California at Santa Barbara.  I obtained my Master's in Social Work from San Jose State University.  I have a certificate in Assistive Technology from California State University at Northridge, and I am a certified early-inclusion specialist, receiving my certificate in Early Inclusion Facilitation from California’s Beginning Together, a program of West Ed.  

 

I have over 20 years of working experience in the assistive technology space. I now run my own private practice and work with the California Regional Center system as a vendor, and have private contracts with school districts. I also work with families and individuals on a private pay basis.   I have spoken at both state- and national-level conferences, sharing my expertise and knowledge with parents, teachers, and caregivers. Statewide, I have presented at the Inclusion Collaborative Conference, the Early Start Partners Symposium, and the Bridge to the Future event hosted by the California Transition Alliance. 

Nationally, I have presented at the CSUN AT Conference, the ATIA Conference, and at the CATE Conference.