Faculty Profiles


Magaña, Sandy M

Academic Title

Professor, Disability and Human Development

Contact Info

Phone: 312-355-4537
Email: maganas@uic.edu
Office Location: 1640 W. Roosevelt Rd. (DHSP), Room 705a

Program Affiliations

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, Master of Science in Disability and Human Development, PhD in Disabilities Studies
Latin American and Latino Studies, UIC

Brief Bio

Dr. Magaña holds a Masters in Social Work from California State University, San Bernardino and received her PhD from the Heller Graduate School of Social Policy at Brandeis University. She completed post doctoral training from the Waisman Center NIH funded Post Doctoral Training Program in Developmental Disabilities Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also a Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty. Previous to her UIC position, Dr. Magaña was a Professor in the School of Social Work and the Waisman Center at University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was also director of the Chicana/o & Latina/o Studies Program at UW-Madison from 2008-2011.


Dr. Magaña’s research focus is on the cultural context of families who care for persons with disabilities and mental illness and the experiences of parents who have disabilities. More recently, her research has focused on health disparities for minority caregivers and diagnosis and treatment disparities for Latino and Black children with an autism spectrum disorder; and on interventions to reduce health and service disparities.

Current Research:
Her current research includes an NIH funded study examining the cultural equivalence of the Autism Diagnostic Instrument for children with Spanish speaking families; an AOTA funded study that engages occupational therapists with community health workers to increase participation among Latino children with ASD; a study funded by the Illinois Autism Program that empowers Latino families who have a child with an autism spectrum disorder; and a study that analysis national data on diagnosis and early service use among a racially diverse sample of children with developmental disabilities.

Selected Publications

Magaña, S., Li, H., Miranda, E., & Paradiso, R. (2014) Improving health behaviors of Latina mothers of youths and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. doi: 10.1111/jir.1213929.

Magaña, S. (2013). Feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary outcomes of the Fortalezas Familiares intervention for Latino families facing maternal depression. Family Process, 52, 394-410.27.

Magaña, S., Lopez, K., Aguinaga, A., Morton, H. (2013) Access to diagnosis and treatment Services among Latino children with autism spectrum disorders. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 51, 141-153.25.

Magaña, S., & Smith, L. (2013). Are there differences in ADI-R lifetime scores between Latino and non-Latino adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43, 1098-1105.

Magaña, S., Parish, S., Rose, R., Timberlake, M., & Swaine J. (2012). Racial and ethnic disparities in quality of health care among children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 50, 287-299.

Current Grants and Contracts

American Occupational Therapy Foundation
Promoting Participation among Latino Children with ASD.
This project engages occupational therapists with community health workers to increase participation among Latino children with ASD.
Role: Principal Investigator

NICHD R03 HD064828-01A1
Cultural Equivalence of Autism Assessment for Latino Children.
The goal of this project is to evaluate the reliability and validity of the Autism Diagnostic Interview Revised (ADI-R) with Spanish Speaking US families.
Role: Principal Investigator

Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the Health Resources and Services Administration (MCHB/HRSA)
Diagnostic and Early Health Service use among Children with DD from Different Racial and Ethnic Backgrounds.
Role: Co-Investigator

Courses Taught

DHD403: Disability in Latino Communities
DHD528: Race, Culture and Health Disparities (co-taught with Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar)

Community Service

Current Activities


PhD in Social Policy, Brandeis University
MSW, California State University San Bernardino
BA in Social Work, California State Univeristy Sacramento

Professional Experience

2011-2012 - Professor, School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison
2008-2011 - Director, Chican@ & Latin@ Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison
2007-2011 - Associate Professor, School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison
2000-2007 - Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison
1998-2000 - Post Doctoral Fellow, University of Wisconsin-Madison; funded by the NICHD Research Training Program on Mental Retardation Research at the Waisman Center and the Anna Julia Cooper Fellowship