Supporting Families

Harbor Island 1

Family Support Spotlight: Supporting Caregivers, Expressive Art and Parents with Disabilities

Friday, November 3
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
Location: Harbor Island 1

Target Audience: Self-Advocates|Family Members

At this session, we will put a spotlight on three innovative family support initiatives. These three projects address issues that families of people with I/DD face at different times of life.

An Expressive Art-Based Peer Bereavement Curriculum for Adults with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities, Dr. Yumi Shurai

Project Together supports opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to articulate grief at the death of a parent caregiver or a close family member through art-making at the University of Arizona ArtWorks Studio. This project aims to enhance, implement and evaluate a 10-week expressive arts curriculum that facilitates a group process working through bereavement. Our approach utilizes expressive arts to remove communicative barriers between persons with different types and levels of disabilities. Through peer-based, creative interactions, we develop strong and supportive community membership. Presentation of the artists’ works at the University Museum of Art serves to raise community awareness about persons with I/DD’s abilities to understand, express, feel and process grief. The exhibit also promotes creative arts for all people as a viable and accessible mode for personal reflection on the universal experience of grief, for healing and remembering.

Positive Parenting Resource Center

The Positive Parenting Resource Center provides services and support to families headed by parents with intellectual, developmental disabilities or functional limitations. Services includes home-based parent education, parent skill training, case navigation, parent education and support groups, supervised visitation, transitional structured supported living program, community mentoring support, grandparent-kinship givers support and youth transitional services.
The Center also provides monthly training to MA new social workers for The Department of Children and Families, as well as local, statewide and national trainings promoting success when working with parents with I.D, DD. or FL.

By Caring for Myself, I can Better Care for my Family, Judith Rocha

Latino children with I/DD are very likely to live with their parents into adulthood and the primary caregiver is most often the mother. Latina caregivers often focus on their family first at the expense of their own health and research shows that lifelong care-giving exacerbates already existing health disparities that Latina women face. Therefore, we developed and tested an intervention for Latina mothers of children with I/DD called, By Caring for Myself, I Can Care Better for my Family. We found that Latina mothers improved their health behaviors as a result of the intervention.

Learning Objectives:

Robin Shaffert

Senior Executive Officer, Individual and Family Support
The Arc
Washington, District of Columbia

Robin Shaffert is the Senior Executive Officer, Individual and Family Support at The Arc of the United States. Robin leads the Center for Future Planning. Previously, she was the Policy Director for the Caring Across Generations campaign, a coalition of over 200 diverse organizations committed to reforming long-term services and supports for seniors and people with disabilities. Robin served as Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), where she led AAPD's participation with Workforce Flexibility 2010 and the Campaign for Disability Employment. She was Deputy General Counsel of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., an associate at Latham & Watkins and a law clerk to United States District Court Judge Norma L. Shapiro. She is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and Dartmouth College and studied for a year as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Hamburg.


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Yumi Shirai

Director/Instructor of ArtWorks
Sonoran University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona

Yumi Shirai, PhD. is the Director of ArtWorks and an Instructor at Sonoran University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of Arizona (UA), Department of Family and Community Medicine. ArtWorks provides a safe space for expression, connection and growth for artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), UA students and the community. Dr. Shirai is a trained modern dancer and a social behavioral scientist. She holds a MA in Dance, with an emphasis in Movement Therapy, and a PhD in Family Studies and Human Development from UA. Her clinical service, teaching and research focuses on family caregiving and later life transitions. Specifically, her interests are in examining factors that are related to psychological and physiological health and developing support and educational programs for adults with I/DD and the general aging populations, as well as their aging family caregivers.


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Judith S. Rocha

Doctoral Candidate
University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work & College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Disability and Human Development
Chicago, Illinois

Judith S. Rocha is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work. As a Latina born in Chicago and raised in the Little Village neighborhood (a Chicago low-income ethnic enclave) by a hard-working single-mother and loving older siblings, all Mexican-born, Judith has always been interested in helping Latina/o families negotiate the complexities of their transnational lives successfully. Research interests include Latinx-relevant social issues with a focus on family caregiving of older Latinas/os with Alzheimer's disease or related dementia (ADRD). Through her dissertation she plans to develop and test pilot a culturally responsive health education intervention program for Latinas that are caring for a family member/loved one with ADRD as an attempt to help inform future research addressing health disparities that exist within this population.


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Sue Jones

Director of Family and Youth Supports
The United Arc
Turners Falls, Massachusetts

For 31 years Susan has specialized in supporting parents with intellectual disabilities. She has also worked with individuals with disabilities as a Recreational Therapist, Employment Specialist, Case Manager and Family Advocate. She holds a BS in Rehabilitation from Springfield College and a master's level certificate in Parenting Education from Wheelock College. Susan founded the New England Coalition for Supporting Parents with Cognitive Challenges and is a Principal Founder of The Association for Supported Parenting. She is the Program Director of Family and Youth Supports at The United Arc in Turners Falls, MA. At the United Arc she oversees The Positive Parenting Program that provides a variety of comprehensive parenting education, service navigation and services to parents with learning differences. Currently she is providing training to new social workers for The Department of Children and Families in MA on working with parents with I/DD.


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Family Support Spotlight: Supporting Caregivers, Expressive Art and Parents with Disabilities


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