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Research Grants

Current Research Grants

2018-2021: Department of Defense Autism Research Program Grant

ASSET Program Intervention Study 

(Role: Co-PI)

(partnered with Michigan State University)

  • The objective of this randomized controlled trial study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a manualized, work-related social skills training intervention for transition-age youth (14-22 years old) with Autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The Assistive Social Skills and Employment Training (ASSET) program is a manualized 10-week program for 4-6 students that meets after school for 90 minutes on a weekly basis designed to address the development of social skills and work-related self-efficacy for students with ASD. This program has been pilot tested in Michigan and is currently expanding to Illinois. 

Past Awards

2016-2017: Spencer Foundation Research Grant

Factors Contributing to Civic Engagement among Young Adults with Disabilities: A Social Cognitive Theory Perspective

(Role: PI)

  • The goal of this study is to examine factors impacting civic engagement for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Specifically, it tests a proposed model based on social cognitive theory that examines the mediating role of self-efficacy on the relationship between environmental factors specific to young adults with developmental disabilities (sense of community, school climate, and environmental barriers) on civic engagement using path analysis.

  • Presentations:

    • Ditchman, N., Haak, C., Corrigan, P., & Rafajko, S. (2017, February). Factors contributing to civic engagement among young adults with disabilities: A social cognitive theory perspective. Poster presented at the American Psychological Association: Division 22 Rehabilitation Psychology conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    • Ditchman, N., Haak, C., Keegan, J., & Corrigan, P. (2017, April). Post-school civic engagement among young adults with developmental disabilities. Poster presented at the National Council on Rehabilitation Education conference, Anaheim, CA.


2016-2017: National Multiple Sclerosis Society Pilot Grant

Microaggressions Experienced by People with MS in the Workplace: An Exploratory Study

(Role: Co-PI)

  • Using focus group design, this study will be the first to provide an in depth analysis of the microaggressions faced by people with MS and their impact on work experiences. Findings from this pilot study will be instrumental in the development of an intervention study, designed in collaboration with members of the MS community, to examine more closely the impact of microaggressions on the work life and well-being of people with MS. Additionally, findings from this study will be useful for informing organizational strategies to reduce the pervasiveness of microaggressions in the workplace.


2015-2016 IIT Lewis College of Human Sciences Faculty Research Program Competition

Mapping Community Integration of Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: A Pilot Investigation Using Global Position System Devices

(Role: PI)

  • The goal of this study was to increase our understanding of community participation outcomes for young adults with developmental disabilities and extend existing research in this area by including objective mapping of physical/spatial integration using GPS tracking as an additional pathway for conceptualizing the complexity of integration in communities for young adults who have transitioned from school to adult life.

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