Photo of myself and Jess Bauza de Garcia at the World Federation of Occupational Therapy in front of the graffiti wall.


My research interests are focused on promoting sexual and reproductive health and community participation for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

My dissertation research used a mixed methods, iterative, participatory design approach to develop interactive learning activities that addressed identified gaps or barriers and utilized recommendations from key stakeholders including individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their parents, healthcare providers, and educators. I then tested the use of these interactive learning activities in a feasibility study of a community-based five-week sexual health education program using the FLASH program.

As a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Drs. Gael Orsmond and Kristin Long. I assisted with data analysis, data management, and manuscript development of the The ROAD Ahead Study and Siblings FORWARD studies. I also conducted a participatory, qualitative research study with LAUREL and LGBTQIA+ autistic adults to understand supports and barriers to community participation and identity development and collaborated on a study to assess recommendations for accessibility of sexual education with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their parents, and educators.

Currently, LAUREL is working to launch Phase 2 of our research, which includes a survey to confirm specific recommendations to support community participation for LGBTQIA+ autistic adults. I am also involved in various studies assessing the effects of a sensory friendly pride event and using the NSHD data to understand instances of discrimination among LGBTQIA+ disabled individuals and social outcomes for LGBTQIA+ neurodivergent individuals. Lastly, I am overseeing various student projects including scoping reviews to understand how virtual reality is utilized to support educational and therapeutic outcomes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, occupational therapy’s role in supporting individuals with substance use disorder in Tennessee, and occupational therapy’s role in working with sex workers with substance use disorder.

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