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: Job Coach for persons with disabilities: developing european standards for training
Funder: Erasmus+ 
Duration: 2015-2018
Collaboration: Grone-Schulen Niedersachsen, Germany with Grone-Bildungszentren NRW Gmbh, Germany; Stowarzyszenie Wsparcie Spolecze JaTyMy, Poland; Stowarzyszenie Niepelprans dla srodowiska EKON, Poland; Beroepsvereniging Jobcoaches Nederland, Netherlands; Cordaan, Netherland; Les Genéts d’Or, France; University of Applied Sciences, Münster, Germany

Standardization and recognition of Job Coach training across Europe. Development of competency framework and training materials, to improve competence and job coach mobility. Jobcoaches are employed to support adults with disabilities to be successful in employment. Jobcoaches may coach the adult with disabilities directly on the job, for example, by helping them communicate with co-workers or manage their time, or they may help develop skills prior to employment. Jobcoach training is not commonly available in Europe and this project aims to develop common standards and competences that will allow European countries to develop training programmes.

Title: Future planning for persons with autism and intellectual disabilities: developing a person-centred support app and a multimedia training course for aging 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 aging 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. Aging 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. Aging carers will be consulted at every stage of research. More information about this project can be found on the ASSISTID website.

Title: Matching person with technology for children with ID/ASD (IMPT-ID/ASD)
Postdoctoral Fellow: Dr Trish McKeown
Duration: 2015-2018
Collaboration: Dr John Gilligan (Dublin Institute of Technology; DIT)

Developing a multimodal assistive technology assessment tool for children with mild to moderate intellectual disability (id) and autistic spectrum disorder (asd) through a universal design framework. More information about this project can be found on the ASSISTID website.

Postdoctoral Fellow: Dr Anita Yakkundi 
Duration: 2015-2017
Collaboration:  Prof Lizbeth Goodman (University College Dublin, UCD)

The ability to read influences not only the academic success but importantly impacts on the communication ability, employment prospects and quality of life. However, most students with learning difficulties acquire limited reading skills by the end of their school education. Students with autism are skilled at decoding but lack comprehension skills, necessary for the sustainable progress and application of reading skills in daily living.

We will to use the MimioSprout early reading program in a cohort of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and co-occuring learning difficulty. Participants with minimal reading skills will be chosen for this study. Teachers, parents, teaching assistants will be trained to use the software and record data. Any adaptations, e.g., touch screen, eye gaze technology that may be required for individuals with greater challenges will be developed. More information about this project can be found on the ASSISTID website.

Title: Empower Young People with Autism who are at risk of Educational Exclusion (2013-2016) Funded by the Lottery, in collaboration with PEAT and UU, we are involved in the evaluation of this project and facilitate professional training workshops.  More>>
Funder: National Lottery, Peat and UU
Duration: 2013 - 2016

Title: Loss and Bereavement and autism: Reports of children on the Autism Spectrum wandering off and drowning have focused attention on the question of what help can we offer in situations of loss and bereavement to families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In addition, trauma and bereavement have profound effects on education and learning. More>>
Funder:Pilot Study TBA
Duration: 2014-2015

Title: ASSISTID COFUND: The focus of this project is to maximise the impact of assistive technologies research for autism and intellectual disability.  More>>
Funder: EU Commission Marie Curie COFUND  

Title: Benchmarking Autism Service Efficacy (BASE):Helping the most vulnerable out of the poverty trap and reducing inequality: Policies, strategies, and services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, including intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities. More>>
Funder: OFMdFM