Understanding Factors That Lead to Successful Community Participation for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities


  • Danila Cepa Elmhurst College
  • Marie-Claude Touchette Elmhurst College
  • Hannah Schwartz Elmhurst College
  • Marissa Lawrence Elmhurst College
  • Kathleen Boyle Elmhurst College
  • Haley Kinsey Elmhurst College
  • Christie Lichosyt Elmhurst College
  • Bhumi Bhatt Elmhurst College




occupational therapy, community participation, intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities




• The Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy is a program that allows students to learn skills within a postsecondary education


• Limited opportunities for community integration and participation for individuals with intellectual and developmental

disabilities (IDD) often exist in our society. Studies have shown, however, that by completing a postsecondary certificate

program, individuals with differing abilities increase their opportunities for meaningful engagement in the community.


• To lay a foundation for future research in both occupational therapy and education, that can expand upon the existing literature

pertaining to young adults with intellectual disabilities. This study focuses on their perceived community involvement,

including their roles, routines, and habits associated with maintaining meaningful employment and living independently upon

program completion.

Aim of the Study:

• Identify targeted life skills contributing to or hindering community participation and workforce integration from the perspective

of young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities having completed a post-secondary program.


Research Design: Qualitative Phenomenological Pilot Study

? Convenience Sample of Participants: We plan to seek a convenient sample of 6 participants. Inclusion criteria consists of individuals from the ELSA program who have graduated within academic years 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 and are between ages 22 and 32. Three categories of participants. The COPM is a client-centered assessment that uses a semi-structured interview to determine meaningful occupations to the client. Using the COPM, the client rates meaningful occupation on a performance and a satisfaction numeric scale. It addresses all areas of a client’s life, including leisure, self-care, and productivity, while remaining open-ended and enabling the occupational therapist to obtain client specific information. For this study, the COPM will help identify the areas of concerns from a performance and satisfaction perspective. Researchers will then use a semi-structured interview to obtain a greater depth of information regarding factors contributing to or hindering community participation and workplace integration.


The purpose of the study is to assess perceived successes and challenges of individuals having completed a non-degree seeking, certificate program. The study aims to identify the factors that impact community integration and participation of alumni of the ELSA program. The alumni’s perspective on what they have taken from the program, such as various skills or strategies, and how they implemented them in their daily lives will provide an understanding of their current level of independence. Data gained from participants will give insight into what skills obtained by alumni from the ELSA program have carried over into their day to day lives. Data gathered through this study can be used to provide faculty of the ELSA program with program outcomes and provide consultative occupational therapy strategies for encouraging occupational engagement for individuals with IDD.




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Author Biographies

Danila Cepa, Elmhurst College


Marie-Claude Touchette, Elmhurst College


Hannah Schwartz, Elmhurst College


Marissa Lawrence, Elmhurst College


Kathleen Boyle, Elmhurst College


Haley Kinsey, Elmhurst College


Christie Lichosyt, Elmhurst College


Bhumi Bhatt, Elmhurst College




How to Cite

Cepa, D., Touchette, M.-C., Schwartz, H., Lawrence, M., Boyle, K., Kinsey, H., Lichosyt, C., & Bhatt, B. (2018). Understanding Factors That Lead to Successful Community Participation for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Journal of Student Research. https://doi.org/10.47611/jsr.vi.600