Special Education scholars receive Zelinger Research Award

by the College of Education at Illinois  /   Sep 14, 2016

Dr. Meghan Burke and doctoral student Cheug eun Lee are the recipients of the annual 2016-2017 Marissa Zelinger Research Award. The award is generously funded by Phillip C. and Beverly Goldstick in honor of their granddaughter, Marissa Zelinger, who was diagnosed with Rett syndrome, a disorder that affects communication.

The scholars will use the funding to focus on understanding how individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their siblings make decisions about important life choices across the spectrums of independent living, employment, and self-determination. As individuals with such disabilities live longer lives, siblings are likely to have caregiving roles.

Burke’s brother, who is 22 and has Down syndrome, recently completed an internship in downtown Chicago. Burke said it is important to discuss her brother’s professional employment goals and how he can live independently to live the life he wants.

Meghan Burke and her brother
Meghan Burke and her brother

“Currently, we have very little research about how adults with disabilities and their siblings make decisions,” said Burke, an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education. “This study will try to understand how to support such decision-making to ensure that individuals with disabilities can achieve their goals, and that siblings can support their brothers and sisters with disabilities.”

Established in 2013, the Zelinger Award enhances the research mission of Special Education scholars and contributes to the important literature on topics relevant to Rett syndrome.

The research scope of the award includes, but is not limited to, augmentative and alternative communication, motor and physical fitness, independent living, and technology innovations that pertain to such areas.

Learn more about the Goldstick Family Fellowship and the couple’s commitment to combatting communication disorders.