Gifty Abraham, O.T.D., OTR/L

Associate Professor
Downers Grove, IL

Home / Academics / Our Faculty / Gifty Abraham, O.T.D., OTR/L


Dr. Abraham graduated with a Master of Science degree in occupational therapy and a Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Abraham’s doctoral work focused on increasing awareness and confidence among practitioners to use occupation-centered model and assessments that systematically look at a child’s volition. The long term vision of her doctoral project was to increase the active engagement of children with disabilities in more meaningful occupations of choice, and in turn, increase participation and outcomes in occupations of development, learning and play. Dr. Abraham's experience working with the pediatric population includes evaluating and treating children with a variety of conditions. She has conducted in-services that teach practitioners about the importance of evaluating and utilizing their client’s volitional information in outpatient settings. In an effort to serve the community, she continues to practice as a clinician in an outpatient setting. She currently teaches pediatric courses, and mentors student research groups at Midwestern University.  She hopes to support and mentor future practitioners who will make an impact on the lives of many individuals and families.

Dr. Abraham has conducted research to understand medical staff perspectives on caring for children with autism in the hospital setting. Her current research focuses on increasing nursing staff self-efficacy when working with children with disability. Following is an abstract from one of the studies that was published in 2021. 


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to describe nursing staff perspectives about caring for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the hospital, strategies they use to support care, and relationships between these factors.

Design and Methods: A descriptive, cross‐sectional survey design with nursing staff at a large pediatric hospital system in the United States was employed. The researcher‐designed, pilot‐tested survey assessed participant demographics, knowledge about ASD, perceived effectiveness caring for children with ASD, previous training, and current strategy use. Data analysis involved descriptive statistics, correlations, and group comparisons based on interaction frequency with the population and previous training.

Results: The participants involved 90 pediatric hospital nursing staff members providing direct care. Respondents demonstrated 90% accurate knowledge of the characteristics of ASD. Self‐reported effectiveness in caring for children with ASD did not correlate with knowledge and significantly correlated with an increased number of strategies. Nursing staff with frequent interaction with people with ASD or those with previous training reported significantly more strategies to care for children with ASD. Only 35% of participants reported that they have adequate strategies to care for children with ASD in the hospital.

Practice Implications: Having more strategies was the factor associated with higher self‐efficacy, so training for nursing staff should focus on increasing the number of strategies to use with children with ASD in the hospital and provide mechanisms to collaborate with other professionals to individualize strategies to meet each child's needs.




Associate Professor

Downers Grove, IL

College of Health Sciences - IL

Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy

Call My


Send Me
a Message


University of Illinois at Chicago | 2012 | O.T.D.
University of Illinois at Chicago | 2011 | M.S.
University of Illinois at Chicago | 2009 | B.S.

Courses Taught

OTHED 1545 OT Process: Children

OTHED 1645 OT Practice: Children 

OTHED 1777 Sensory Processing


Dr. Abraham's research interests include:

Increase Parental Self-Efficacy: Research shows that an effective way to improve a child's participation in everyday life is through active parental involvement. In my experience working with parents of children with disabilities, I have found that often parents feel inadequate and/or demonstrate poor self-efficacy. When parents of a child with disabilities have improved sense of competency, the overall intervention is noted to be effective and results in better outcomes. My research interests are about facilitating parental involvement during the OT process and developing measures of outcomes that document parental changes in self-efficacy and competence after OT interventions. 

Spirituality and OT’s role: Literature shows that large percentage of Americans identify spirituality as an important part of their life. According to our practice framework, spirituality and religious activities and expression are well within our realm of practice. In my personal and professional experience, faith-based organizations such as churches and community based programs geared for children often lack knowledge and strategies to support children with disabilities.  My research interests are about understanding how spirituality is currently addressed within OT practice, increasing awareness and confidence among leaders and volunteers in various faith-based settings to include children with disabilities, facilitate client- and family-centered practice by allowing family participation in meaningful activities such as religious observance. 


Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Mahoney, W.J., Villacrusis, M., Sompolski, M., Iwanski, B., Charman, A., Hammond, C., & Abraham, G. (2021). Nursing care for pediatric patients with autism spectrum disorders: A cross-sectional survey of perceptions and strategies. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing.

Mahoney, W., Villacrusis, M., Iwanski, B., Charman, A., Sompolski, M., & Abraham, G. (2019). Healthcare providers’ perceptions of hospital care with children with autism spectrum disorders [abstract]. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 63(7), 660. doi: 10.1111/jir.12652



Illinois Occupational Therapy Association

American Occupational Therapy Association 


2020     Midwestern University Occupational Therapy Program Outstanding Faculty Mentor 

2019     University of Illinois at Chicago Occupational Therapy Program 5-Year Service Award