HERE Center

Disability and the Transition to Adulthood in the U.S. and in Guatemala

During my doctoral years, I worked with Widaman, Duffy, and Eyman on an NICHD grant on families with children who are mentally retarded.

There, I learned the parenting and disability literatures, and ethnographic, survey development, and multi-trait-multimethod analyses that would be instrumental to my later research career. This work in parenting led to the publication of the Parenting Style Survey by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). At CSUN, I learned about Latina/o cultures from my surroundings, students, and colleagues, recognizing and appreciating that developmental processes varied based on cultural values and practices, cultural nuances existed that I hadn’t known, and that this knowledge must be integrated into theory and empirical work in disabilities.

Based on empirical work in Guatemala with a student (Bamaca), I took a delegation of undergraduates on two occasions to work at FUNDABIEM, a nonprofit rehabilitation center in Guatemala City. There, we conducted research and volunteered two summers, fund-raised and brought out wheelchairs, therapeutic materials, and other resources for the children and adolescents who attend there. We developed workshops for parents on disability stigma, prenatal nutrition, talking with your doctor, and a variety of other topics devised from our first trip. We maintain our relationship with psychology professors from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.

Based on these data funded by the U.S. Department of Education (CIRRIE) as well as two MBRS awards, I am working on a book related to the transition to adulthood of youth who are White, Latina/o, and those who are from Guatemala. The book will be written as a trade book for parents, teachers, and medical care workers of youth with disabilities in a way that draws upon empirical studies and current theories about resilience and positive psychology.


  • Saetermoe, C. L., Farruggia, S. P., & Lopez, C. (1999). Differential Parental Communication with Adolescents Who Are Disabled and Their Healthy Siblings. Journal of Adolescent Health, 24(1), 2-9.
  • Saetermoe, C. L., Scattone, D.*, & Kim, K. H.* (2001). Ethnicity and the stigma of disabilities. Psychology and Health, 16, 699-714.
  • Saetermoe, C. L., Gómez, J., Bámaca, M., & Gallardo, C. (2004). A qualitative enquiry of caregivers of adolescents with severe disabilities in Guatemala City. Disability and Rehabilitation, 26, 1032-1047.
  • Saetermoe, C. L., Widaman, K. F., & Borthwick-Duffy, S. (1991). Validation of the parenting style survey for parents of children with mental retardation. Mental Retardation, 29(3), 139-157.