The Down Syndrome Education International Research Forum was held on 27th and 28th April, with Down Syndrome Ireland represented by four members of our Member Support Team – Aoife Gaffney, Sinéad Flynn, Nicola Hart and Fidelma Brady.
Aoife presented on the National Employment Programme and Sinéad presented on the DSI Book Club Pilot, while findings from three DSI research projects were also presented. Nicola and Fidelma presented their joint research project on parental choice re: mainstream vs. special education. Findings from a parental survey on reduced timetables and school hours were presented by Fidelma; and Nicola was also part of the research team from UCC presenting on the reading habits of young people and adults with Down syndrome.
The Forum was a huge success with live presenters from the UK, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and the USA. There were 256 attendees – researchers, professionals, family members and support advisors – from 27 countries. There was an excellent range of talks and presentations across a range of projects, highlighting the importance of research to establish best practice for people with Down syndrome of all ages, and indicating that research and practice fields are constantly developing and evolving.
Findings from our research on both Reduced Timetables and Reduced School Days; and on Parent Choices Regarding Mainstream v Special Education in the Republic of Ireland will be shared with the Department of Education, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and the Oireachtas Committees on Education & Progressing Disabilities in due course, to highlight the issues experienced by our members.
Models of good practice in achieving meaningful employment and continuing literacy through book clubs provide examples for other Down syndrome organisations around the world, fostering collaboration and showcasing what can be achieved.
If you would like further information on anything discussed above, please reach out to our Member Support Team.