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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.

  • DESMOND-ID: Self-management of Type 2 Diabetes in adults with learning disabilities: A Randomised Controlled Trial 

    We have received funding from the National Institute for Health Research (Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme) of £2.2m from Sept 22 – Aug 25 to explore whether a diabetes education programme (DESMOND-ID) tailored specifically for people with intellectual disability can improve self-management of Type 2 diabetes compared to usual care?

    Learn more about the My Diabetes and Me Study

  • 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.

  • Walk Buds: A walking program for children with intellectual disabilities in schools 

    We have received funding from the Baily Thomas Charitable Fund, London of £96,000 from (sept 22 – Feb 23) to examine whether it is possible to conduct a clustered randomised controlled trial to evaluate whether ‘Walk Buds’ is effective in increasing physical activity, physical fitness and emotional wellbeing in 9-13yr old children with intellectual disabilities.

    ‘Walk buds’ is a school walking intervention that promotes physical activity in children with intellectual disabilities (9-13yrs); and was co-produced with the teachers, parents and children. Promoting activity levels in children is important for their health. We think that if children have an older peer to motivate and support them that this may promote activity. We want to test whether Walk Buds works schools, that is can it be supported by the teachers and are parents willing to have their child participate in the intervention. We will collect measures on physical activity and wellbeing to find out if the early findings indicate whether a larger trial can be undertaken.

  • Trauma Informed Care for adults with intellectual disability



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
  • Special Olympics International.

Centre Team

  • Dr Allison Campbell

    Dr Allison Campbell joined the Centre for Neurodevelopmental & Intellectual Disabilities in February 2023 as the Research Associate for the MATILDA Project. Her research interests include Special Educational Needs and Carers, especially young carers- children and young people aged under 23 with caring roles.

    Allison completed her PhD at Ulster University in 2020 with the School of Education and since then has been involved in numerous research projects including evaluations and research commissioned by voluntary organisations and the Department of Education. She is part of an all-Ireland research team at University of Limerick examining the teaching of social justice.

    Prior to completing her PhD, Allison worked for over 7 years in the Voluntary Sector supporting young carers. Outside of work, she is on the Board of Management for a Pre-School, Board of Directors for a Carers Charity and the Board of Governors for a school in her local area.

    In her spare time, Allison enjoys spending time with her young family, trying new recipes and swimming.

  • Dr Rosemary Kelly

    My projects

    Coronavirus and people with learning disabilities

    This project used direct interview methods to systematically and responsively track the experiences of adults with learning disabilities through the COVID-19 pandemic over time across the UK, and investigate swiftly actionable factors associated with better outcomes. It was jointly funded by UK Research and Innovation and the National Institute for Health Research (Waves 1-3), and by the National Institute for Health Research Policy Research Programme (Wave 4).

    My Diabetes and Me Study

    This is a large 45 month National Institute for Health Research funded Randomised Control Trial that will examine the clinical and cost-effectiveness of a structured education programme (DESMOND-ID) for adults with learning disabilities. A Quintet Recruitment Intervention study embedded within the internal pilot will aim to enhance the likelihood of progression to the full RCT study (months 0-14). The findings of the QRI study will feed into the main trial to inform how to enhance effective recruitment across N Ireland, Glasgow and Leicester.

    Experience and interests

    Dr Kelly is a Registered Sick Children’s Nurse who spent 36 years in clinical practice completing an MSc Nursing in 2004. After retiring from clinical practice in 2016, she completed a PhD at Ulster University and has been working as a researcher with the university since 2020. Dr Kelly’s PhD explored the experience of person-centred practice in a single room, hospital environment. In addition to the two current studies, her post doctoral work has included developing an online resource for people with head and neck cancer. She is an expert panel member for the NI Regional Ethics Committee.

  • Dr Peter Mulhall

    Dr Peter Mulhall is a psychologist and researcher at Ulster University. After a clinical career spanning over 20 years in the NHS, community, and private sectors, he completed a PhD at Ulster University investigating the practical and methodological challenges to including people with intellectual disability in randomised controlled trials. His research interests include addictions, autism, dyslexia, intellectual disabilities, mental health, trauma and the impact of missing data on the findings of clinical trials.

    His post-doctoral work has focused on the field of intellectual disabilities, including investigating: the impact of school-based walking interventions, the impact of the covid pandemic on the lives of people with intellectual disability, interventions for managing behaviours that challenge, parenting programs, mapping the changing population of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities in Northern Ireland.

In this section


Download the latest Neurodevelopmental and Intellectual Disabilities Research Reports.


An evidence-based overview of assessment, intervention and intensity for children with phonological impairment (Hegarty, Titterington, McLeod and Taggart, 2018)


Matilda is an NIHR funded feasibility study, led by Professor Laurence Taggart.

My Diabetes and Me Study

Helping people with a learning or intellectual disability who have Type 2 Diabetes.