Dara Chan, ScD, CRC
ASD Researchers at UNC
Assistant Professor/Division of Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling/Department of Allied Health Sciences
Dara Chan, ScD, is an Assistant Professor in the division of Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, in the Department of Allied Health Sciences. Her research interests include community integration and resource use for people with physical and psychiatric disabilities; spatial analysis of accessibility and the environment using Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Dr. Chans research focuses on using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping and Global Positioning System (GPS) data tracking to record the activity locations and time spent in the community of individuals with disabilities during an average week. We know many adults with ASD and many adults with CP have lower rates of post-secondary education, employment, and even recreational activities, which can contribute to social isolation and low participation in the community. Understanding where adults are going and what activity locations in the community are important may be able to improve service delivery, community based interventions for adulthood, and overall community integration, she notes.
Dr. Chan was awarded two grants to investigate community participation in adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and a third grant to investigate community participation in adults with cerebral palsy (CP). Historically, research and services directed at developmental disabilities such as ASD and CP have focused on childhood and adolescence, with little attention given to what happens in adulthood. There is a gap in understanding how activities and service needs change in adulthood for people with developmental disabilities, and how these needs are, or are not, being met, stated Dr. Chan.