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€9 million research programme in Autism described as 'groundbreaking'

The research programme, which is the first of its kind, was launched in Dublin today.

Image: boy via Shutterstock

A NINE MILLION euro research programme in Autism and Intellectual Disability was launched in Dublin today.

This research project is the first of its kind in Europe.

It will promote research into the development and application of assistive technologies to enhance the quality of life of people with intellectual disabilities and autism, their carers and families.

EU Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn launched the Irish-led EU research programme.

The research is co-funded by the EU Marie Curie ASSISTID Cofund and the Irish charity RESPECT.

Assistive Technologies 

Assistive Technologies refers to practical tools that can support the functional needs of people who experience difficulties associated with disability or ageing.

For people with autism or intellectual disabilities, assistive technologies can transform their lives and allow them to complete everyday tasks which could otherwise be impossible.

The National Disability Authority Ireland (NDA) report from 2012 stated that:

Assistive Technologies is centrally important for disability policy as it is one of the more concrete ways that the barriers to participation in society can be overcome for people with disabilities.

Research

Speaking at the launch today, Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn remarked that, “ASSISTID is a unique partnership of Irish and USA universities and the disability services which will support research and technologies to improve the quality of life of people with autism and intellectual disabilities”.

Professor Brian Harvey, RCSI, who will lead the research on behalf of the DOCTRID Research Institute, said:

This research programme can be readily described as groundbreaking.

“We now have an opportunity to pool the resources of Irish universities, with academics from the US in the very best interests of people with autism and other disabilities and we are in a position to do this with the assistance of EU and Irish funding and the support of the Daughters of Charity Services.

This is a significant team effort which I have no doubt will reap dividends for people with disability all around the world.

Professor Harvey continued, “The €9 million ASSISTID EU programme brings scientists, engineers and health care professionals together with carers and families to develop technology solutions to enable people with disabilities to communicate, learn, work, play, and function more easily in the world”.

Funding

The ASSISTID programme which will fund 40 post-doctoral fellows is co-funded by the European Commission and the charity RESPECT.

It is coordinated by the DOCTRID Research Institute which includes the Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services, all of the universities of Ireland, RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland), Dublin and Tralee Institute of Technology and the US universities Michigan State University and the University of Massachusetts.

This is the first time that all of the universities of Ireland have joined together in an EU funded research consortium.

 

Read: Autism and schizophrenia may be caused by the same mutations>

Read: What is it like to have a child with autism?>

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