Interdisciplinary Trainee Spotlight - Jesi Post

Sonoran UCEDD Update
March 2012

UCEDD Trainee, Spring 2010 Cohort
PhD Candidate – Family Studies and Human Development
Sonoran UCEDD Research Assistant

Jesi PostI am a student in the Family Studies and Human Development (FSHD) PhD program here at the University of Arizona. I am interested in interpersonal relationships, emotion (especially emotions that care providers experience due to being empathic), individual well-being, and disability issues. I’m currently working as a research assistant with the Sonoran UCEDD. I’m also pursuing a project for my master’s thesis in FSHD which looks at ways that care providers cope with emotions they may experience when working with others who are distressed. Because my work in FSHD isn’t specifically focused on disability, part of my goal in working with the Sonoran UCEDD has been to learn more about ways that my interests in disability, close relationships and well-being can be integrated. Becoming involved with UCEDD has been a wonderful experience for me. I’ve felt lucky to be able to take part in discussions, events, and research that have helped me gain knowledge about disability-related issues.

I began working with UCEDD as a trainee by attending trainee seminars in the spring of 2010. That summer I participated in my first project as a trainee. I was invited to be part of an interdisciplinary team with Lynne Tomasa, PhD, Carol Howe, MD, and Alberto Guzman, PhD; together we brought together experiences and knowledge in areas of disability, medicine, aging, and even library science. We worked together to explore issues surrounding the inclusion of people with disabilities in their own end-of-life care and end-of-life decision-making. Our goal was to identify issues surrounding end-of-life care for people with disabilities, as well as provide ideas for ways future researchers might better address end-of-life experiences and issues for individuals with disabilities, families, and care providers. This project was especially interesting to me because it encompassed individual well-being and relationships between people with disabilities, families, and care providers. The culmination of our work resulted in a poster that was presented at the Annual Conference of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities in November 2010, Building a Research Agenda for the Inclusion of People with Disabilities in End-of-Life Decisions: Literature Identifies Key Issues (view poster here).

In the fall of 2011, I was provided an opportunity to be part of another project through UCEDD working with Lynne Tomasa, PhD and Leslie Cohen, JD. This project, Arizona Community Living NOW, has focused on housing for people with developmental disabilities. I gathered information about one specific type of living situation, called shared living. Shared living is a housing option that’s not standardized – although it happens in many different areas of the US, there are numerous names, and about as many different ways to make it work as there are people doing it. I was interested in learning more about shared living because it has a large emphasis on individual experiences, close relationships, and how living situations can be created that emphasize benefits to an individual’s well-being (in terms of happiness and health) as the primary driving force behind decision-making. As a continuation of the housing project, I have been talking with people in Arizona to learn more about how people with developmental disabilities have found accessible and affordable housing in the community. I have really enjoyed hearing people’s personal stories, and look forward to sharing these with others in the future, as part of a larger housing information guide, which we hope to make available through the UCEDD website and beyond.

For more information about Arizona Community Living NOW, please visit the project website:  www.azcommunitylivingnow.org

For more information about the Sonoran UCEDD Interdisciplinary Training Program and to meet all our trainees, visit our website:http://sonoranucedd.fcm.arizona.edu/trainee_program