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NIID research


Research Students


The Centre for Inclusion and Intellectual Disability has a research agenda that promotes an inclusive research approach, in which:

  • The research problem is one that is owned (not necessarily initiated) by people with intellectual disabilities
  • The research activity should further the interests of people with intellectual disabilities; non-disabled researchers should be on the side of people with intellectual disabilities
  • The research process should be collaborative - people with intellectual disabilities should be involved in the process of doing the research.
  • People with intellectual disabilities should be able to exert some control over process and outcomes.
  • The research question, process and reports must be accessible to people with intellectual disabilities.

(Adapted from Walmsley & Johnson, 2004, p. 64. Inclusive research with people with learning disabilities: past, present and futures. London: Jessica Kingsley)

People with intellectual disabilities and family members will be involved in research that is undertaken by the CIID through one of several ways, such as:

  • Being on advisory or reference groups.
  • Acting as co-researchers.
  • Initiating and leading the research project.
co-researching co-researching co-researching


The National Institute for Intellectual Disability (CIID), Trinity College has been established as a research centre with a view to improve inclusive policy and practice for individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families.

The Institute facilitates an innovative research partnership between academic staff, undergraduate and postgraduate students, practitioners, government departments, voluntary agencies, and people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

Dr. Patricia O'Brien, Director of the CIID arrived from the University of Auckland in New Zealand in 2004 to take up the post of Director of the CIID. Her research background includes; follow up studies on the effects of de-institutionalisation of people with intellectual disability; the interface between offenders with intellectual disability and the criminal justice system; and enhancing effectiveness in special education.

In 2004-5 Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Susan Ryan, from the University of Anchorage undertook a study on Education and support needs of students with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in rural and urban Ireland . In 2005, Dr Ryan also won a grant from the Ministry of Education and Science to develop a resource for families of students with foetal alcohol syndrome.

In 2005, Dr Patricia O’Brien received a Start Up grant from Trinity College to explore the setting up of a national survey for people with intellectual disabilities. She was assisted in this developmental work by Tara Mitchell.

In 2006-2007 Marie Curie Incoming International Fellow, Dr Kelley Johnson came from RMIT University, Melbourne Australia to coordinate a project called ‘No Longer Researching About Us Without Us'. The aim of this project was to work with people with intellectual disabilities to develop a curriculum to support people with intellectual disabilities to develop research skills as well as the writing of life stories. On completing the project, Dr Kelley Johnson has taken up a professorship at the Norah Fry Research Centre, University of Bristol. The Garden Story and Brian and Joe’s Coffee Shop are available for purchase at €6 each or €10 for both from the NIID.


Garden Story Book
Coffee Shop book


In 2006, Dr Patricia O’Brien Dr. Máirín Kenny, Karen O’Mahony completed a project funded by the National Council for Special Education to document the status quo in relation to the implementation of individual educational plans across primary, secondary and special schools.

In 2006-7, Dr Patricia O’Brien, Dr Michael Shevlin, Molly O’Keeffe, Dr Máirín Kenny, Stephanie Fitzgerald, Stephen Curtis and Amy O’Shea completed a project funded by the National Disability Authority in documenting the outcomes of the Certificate in Contemporary Living delivered for students with intellectual disabilities at Trinity College.

Collaborative Research and Development Partners

Contact: Dr Carmel O'Sullivan

Last updated 29 May 2015 by (Email).