Featured Profile: Nancy Cheak-Zamora
University of Missouri researcher Dr. Nancy Cheak-Zamora is working to help youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) make a smooth transition into adulthood.
Of the nearly 3.5 million Americans living with autism in the United States, the majority are under the age of 18. Historically, fewer than 25 percent of these youth have transitioned into a fully independent adulthood. Cheak-Zamora is working to find ways to ease young adults with ASD into a more autonomous lifestyle. Many of these individuals have co-existing medical conditions that make it harder to secure steady employment; Cheak-Zamora examines how they manage their healthcare to help identify successful strategies.
With a $500,000 award she received from U.S. Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, Cheak-Zamora is utilizing interviews and focus groups to examine how both youth with autism and their caregivers define a successful transition into independence, as well as how they voice their experiences and needs. She hopes her research will help young adults with ASD to better manage their personal healthcare and make a successful transition into independence. “They should experience an adult model of care whenever possible,” she says.
Dr. Nancy Cheak-Zamora is an assistant professor of health sciences who teaches and conducts research in the School of Health Professions. She is also an investigator at MU’s Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders.
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One Health/One Medicine