Current Projects

Title: Visual Health: helping children in special schools to overcome vision problems
Funder: Action Medical Research
Duration: 2015-2018
Collaboration: Ulster University, Northern Health and Social Services Trust

Helping children in special schools to overcome vision problems. Over 100,000 children and young people attend special schools in the UK.1-4. They are more likely than other children to have vision problems, but evidence suggests their problems often go unrecognised and untreated. Professor Kathryn Saunders, of Ulster University leads the project, in collaboration with Prof Karola Dillenburger of the Centre for Behaviour Analysis, QUB, and the  Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast. The project aims at investigating the benefits of assessing children’s vision within the familiar environment of their school, sharing the test results with parents, teachers and other people in the children’s lives, and recommending ways to tackle children’s visual problems. They hope these steps will improve the behaviour of children and the quality of life for their families. More information about this project can be found on the Action Medical Research website.

Title: Future planning for persons with autism and intellectual disabilities: developing a person-centred support app and a multimedia training course for ageing carers
Postdoctoral Fellow: Dr Aviva Cohen
Duration: 2015-2018
Collaboration:  Prof Lizbeth Goodman (University College Dublin, UCD)

The aim of this ASSISTID fellowship is to support ageing carers to plan the future care of loved ones with severe autism. A significant barrier to the planning of future care is a fear that no one else will understand the needs of their loved one. It is believed that only they can provide the best possible care. As a family carer, the researcher understands the importance of a person centred approach and the urgency to find practical solutions that contribute to evidence-based policy making.

Two related supports are proposed: An app that enables carers to record video, pictures and notes to inform future carers. 2. A training course to address their practical and emotional challenges. Ageing parents of severely autistic people often continue as carers for too long, this may be at the expense of their health and with risk to their charge. There is a lack of research in this area because, until recently, most people with severe difficulties pre-deceased their parents. Ageing carers will be consulted at every stage of research. More information about this project can be found on the ASSISTID website.