Neurodevelopmental and Intellectual Disabilities

This theme focuses upon improving quality of life of people with neuro-developmental and intellectual disabilities, across the lifespan.

Our research targets health, social isolation, communication, and behaviours that challenge through five cross cutting areas of research:

  1. Understanding the health determinants of children, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  2. Promoting health access, and diminishing health and social disparities, experienced by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  3. Understanding behaviours that challenge within the context they occur, and supporting families and communities to respond effectively
  4. Development and testing of multi-component interventions for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  5. Using ‘big data’ from different sources to identify improvement to the health and social care of this population across its lifespan

Programmes of work

  • Intensive Support Teams (IST-ID) Study

    The IST-ID study, led by Professor Angela Hassiotis, University College London  aims to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of intensive support teams for adults with intellectual disabilities and challenging behaviour. It is funded by the NIHR. Dr Taggart is a co-PI on this project.

  • International Consensus Guidelines

    Developed by Dr Laurence Taggart, this project explores reasonable adjustments in the management of Type 2 Diabetes in Adults with Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities. The report outlines clear and tangible guidelines for health, disability, social care professionals, and family carers that provides significant improvements in patient care and experience.

  • Matilda (Managing Activities Together to Involve Older People with LD in their Local Community)

    Matilda  is an NIHR funded feasibility study, led by Dr Taggart on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of the MATILDA intervention to support older adults with learning disability to their improve health, wellbeing and social networks compared to usual care.  This 30-month study will run in N Ireland and London to test whether Matilda can help older people with learning disabilities participate in local community groups with the support of mentors  without learning disabilities.

  • Personalised treatment packages for adults with learning disabilities who display aggression in community settings (PerTA-LD)

    The PERTA-LD project, funded by the NIHR and led by Professor Angela Hassiotis, University College London, aims to develop and test in a randomised controlled trial, a personalised treatment package for aggression for adults with learning disability. Dr Taggart is a co-PI on this project.

  • SuSSD (Supporting and Understanding Speech Sound Disorder)

    SuSSD (Supporting and Understanding Speech Sound Disorder) is an online resource that was co-produced with speech and language therapists (clinicians and managers) as part of Natalie Hegarty's PhD project (Hegarty, Titterington, McLeod and Taggart 2018). It is currently managed by Dr Jill Titterington with support from Ulster University’s Creative and Campaign Services.

    SuSSD provides speech and language therapists (SLTs) with a clinical decision making tool to support appropriate selection of one of three possible interventions for children with consistent phonological impairment (conventional minimal pairs (Weiner 1981), multiple oppositions (Williams 2000), and the complexity approach (Gierut 1989, Gierut and Champion 2001)).

    The rationale for the development of this online resource was driven by findings from an online survey (Hegarty et al. 2018) highlighting the gap between research and practice for SLTs managing children with phonological impairment across the UK.

    This gap was further investigated in a series of focus groups with SLTs (NHS health service provision) identifying barriers and facilitators to evidence based practice for children with phonological impairment (Hegarty et al. 2020). SLTs reported the need for an online tool to support them with their clinical decision making and which would provide them with step-by-step guidance for intervention protocols (including dosage), and links to resources/materials.

    SuSSD was the output of co-production work between the researchers and specialist SLTs experienced in providing intervention for children with phonological impairment (Hegarty et al. 2018). At this stage, three direct approaches to intervention for children with phonological impairment are included in the resource which is undergoing constant review and development.


We have strong links with psychiatry, psychology, social work, computing science, methods and implementation scientists from Queens University Belfast, Cambridge University, University College London, Kings College London, City University London, Warwick University, University of Glasgow, Lancaster University, University of Sydney, La Trobe University, Charles Stuart University, Australia and Special Olympics International.

Project lead

Dr Laurence Taggart


School of Nursing

Areas of expertise

  • Health of people with intellectual disabilities
  • Development and testing of interventions for people with intellectual disabilities and knowledge translation