Current Disability Research in Manitoba  

Join us as we learn about current disability research from…


Join us as we learn about current disability research from Manitoba research students on Wednesday, May 25 from 11am-1pm.

About the Event

Science. Research. Manitoba.

It can’t get any better than that.

Beyond Limits is thrilled to bring you a series of presentations featuring Manitoban researchers, all on the topic of disabilities. Come support these students as they share their research and its impact and importance during an interactive and engaging virtual session.

We will hear from:

Dr. Margherita Cameranesi, PhD, MSc

Resilience in Persons with Profound Intellectual and Multiple Disabilities Following Community Transition: A Canadian Study

Session Summary:

During this session, two research studies will be presented. Study 1 followed a longitudinal design to measure changes in the quality of life (QoL) of 33 adults with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities (PIMD) following their transition from a large institutional residence to smaller community homes. A pre- post-transition quasi-experimental time-series longitudinal study design was implemented to measure the impact of community transition on the QoL of study participants. QoL was assessed in eight domains by proxy at two time points using a standardized tool. Study results revealed that between pre- and post-transition, study participants experienced significant improvements in all the eight domains of QoL evaluated and in global QoL. Study 1 represents a qualitative investigation in which the interpretive description method was applied to learn about the community lives of eight study participants of study 1 from the perspectives of their family members. We interviewed mothers of persons with PIMD who had been living in the community for 6-60 months using intense interviewing techniques. Study findings revealed narratives of happiness, improved mental and physical wellbeing, and resilience due to a variety of factors enabled by the new community settings.

Kayla Kostal, MSc Student, BA (Hons.)

Topic: A longitudinal study examining changes in health outcomes following community transitions of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities


Kayla Kostal is a Master of Science student in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. In May 2021, she received her BA (Hons) in Psychology with First Class Honours. Her undergraduate thesis examined changes in behaviour and mental health from transitioning to community homes in persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She is a Mitacs Research Trainee at St.Amant.

Session Summary:

Are there differences in health outcomes in persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) when living in a long-term care facility compared to living in a community home? In this research study, we are examining changes in health and quality of life from community transitions in persons with IDD. This session will provide the first look at health outcomes for persons with IDD who moved out of St.Amant’s Health & Transition Services over the last eight years. We will share what we have learned so far about changes in health outcomes before and after community transitions. Positive outcomes and areas for improvement to inform future community transitions will be highlighted. These findings help inform best-practice recommendations to enhance health and wellness in persons with IDD. In a related session, Dr. Margherita Cameranesi will share about the impact community transitions have had on the quality of life of persons with IDD.

Maria Baranowski, PhD student, MSc, RD

Topic: Dietary intake and nutritional status of children born with Down syndrome living in Winnipeg


Maria is a PhD student in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. She is planning to study the dietary intake and nutritional status of children born with Down syndrome, and their experience with nutrition services. Maria holds a Bachelor and Master’s degree in human nutritional sciences, and has been a dietitian for over 15 years. Maria is a proud mom of three boys, the youngest of whom was born with Down syndrome.

Session Summary:

During her presentation, Maria will discuss her proposed PhD research project. Down syndrome affects 1 in every 750 live births in Canada. Nutrition-related conditions such as obesity are more common in individuals born with Down syndrome, and increase the risk of developing diseases such as heart problems and diabetes. Alzheimer’s disease is also more common in individuals born with Down syndrome. Some dietary patterns are found to be associated with a reduced risk Alzheimer’s disease in the general population. There is limited information on nutritional status of children born with Down Syndrome is Canada. Maria’s proposed project is a first step to provide that information for a group of children with Down Syndrome born in Manitoba. She plans to collect dietary data from children born with Down syndrome living in Winnipeg and determine their nutritional status. She is also interested in learning about their experiences receiving nutrition services, and how they prefer to receive nutrition resources. Her long-term goal is to improve the health and well-being of individuals born with Down syndrome.

Ryan Heckert, MA, C. Psych. Candidate, BCBA, PhD Candidate

Topic: Evaluation of Behaviour Consultation Services in St.Amant School​


Ryan Heckert is currently finishing up his Ph.D. in Applied Behaviour Analysis at the University of Manitoba, with his research focusing on evaluating behaviour consultation at St.Amant School. Ryan has also been involved with St.Amant for a number of years. Originally starting out as a volunteer in 2007, Ryan then moved into a support worker role with St. Amant’s Community Residential Program. More recently, Ryan has been working as a Behaviour Analyst with the Psychology/Autism Services Jordan’s Principle team, a role he has held since 2017.

Session Summary:

Behaviour consultation is an approach used to provide effective support in school settings. One model of consultation is positive behaviour support, which uses a three-tiered model to provide more individualized and specialized supports to students who do not respond to lower tiers. This approach has been widely applied, and similarities to this approach are used within St.Amant School for students with severe challenging behaviours. Previous research has not looked at the effectiveness of behaviour interventions applied within a school setting such as that of St.Amant School. The main goals of this study were to examine the effectiveness of behaviour interventions through analyzing previously collected behaviour tracking data, and assessed the perspectives of the staff who work with the students to gain a better understanding of the acceptability of the data collection system and the use of interventions. Overall, the results suggest that the behaviour tracking data did show noticeable effects on behaviours, when clinical plans were implemented, and that staff were generally satisfied with the behaviour tracking system in place and with the interventions recommended by Psychology Staff.

Jenna Heschuk, B.A. (Honours) student

Topic: Running away by children with autism spectrum disorder: Severity, family impact, and prevention


Jenna Heschuk is an Undergraduate Honours Psychology student at the University of Manitoba who will be graduating with her BA (Hons) in Psychology this spring. She is an administrative assistant at St.Amant Research Centre and enjoys providing research support on different projects at the Centre.

Session Summary:

Children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) sometimes run away from the supervised safe settings they are in, which can be called elopement. Elopement also includes sneaking off, fleeing, or wandering away from safe spaces. This behaviour can be very stressful to parents. When children elope, they can be put at risk of traffic injury or drowning. Although elopement has a large impact on the family, research has shown that many parents are not getting the help that they need to cope.

We wanted to know how families in Canada are affected by elopement, so we created a survey to find out. We had parents of children with ASD and a history of elopement complete this survey. In this session, we will talk about what families have said about their child’s elopement behaviour, including its severity and how elopement impacts their lives. We will then discuss the supports that parents have received and what they do to lessen their child’s elopement. When we understand what parents experience in caring for their child with ASD who elopes, we can then figure out how they can better be supported.


Wednesday, May 25 11am-1pm CST