DS Research Forum


Down Syndrome Research Forum Ireland

Exploring best practice in speech, language and communication for people with Down syndrome and their families


29th March, 2019 UCC Cork

Registration is now closed.


8.30-9.00am: Registration

9.00-10.00am: Introduction BHSC G10

Keynote presentation & Discussion 1: Dr. Gerald Mahoney, Case Western Reserve University

Relationship Based Developmental Intervention with Children with Down Syndrome


10.00-.10.30: Coffee (BHSC 1.01)


10.30-12.00: Parallel workshops/seminars


Workshop 1 BHSC G10

Workshop 2 BHSC 1.22


The understanding of complex syntax in children with Down syndrome.

Lead by: Dr Pauline Frizelle, University College Cork


Little Explorers Early Intervention Programme: Lessons from a research study

Lead by: Ms Mide Kearney, DSI Cork branch


Early intervention for infants with Down syndrome: developing social communication skills

Lead by: Dr Vesna Stojanvik, University of Reading

Developing Personalised Reading books: from Low Tech to the use of Apps such as Pictello

Lead By: Jo Gawn, Lead Speech & Language Therapist, Down Syndrome Services, Symbol Connect UK


Participation of children with Down syndrome in therapy/intervention

Lead by: Dr Clare Carroll, National University of Ireland, Galway


My experience of speech and language therapy as a person with Down syndrome

Lead by: Cathal Griffin


12.00 - 1.00: Lunch Brookfield Cafeteria (Basement)

1.00 – 3.15: Parallel workshops/seminars


Workshop 2 BHSC G10

Workshop 2 BHSC 1.22


Visual processing and learning in children with Down syndrome

Lead by: Lynda McGivney-Nolan MSc. FAOI Optometric Advisor to Association of Optometrists, Ireland & Clinical Director Special Olympics Ireland


Lead by: Rebecca Baxter, SLT Let’s Go Workshop: A language intervention for developing the regular past tense




Parent-mediated interventions for children with Down syndrome: An update on current research

Lead by: Dr Ciara O’Toole, University College Cork



World Café: Priorities in researching the lives of children with Down syndrome and their families

Lead by: Dr Ciara O’Toole & Dr Pauline Frizelle (BHSC 1.21 & 1.22)

3.00-3.15: Coffee Break


3.15-4.00: Closing Keynote presentation & Discussion: Rebecca Baxter, SLT Lead Let’s Go UK

Using evidence to inform practice in interventions for children with Down syndrome syndrome (BHSC G10)




Dr Gerald Mahoney 

Gerald Mahoney, Ph.D. is the Ver Houck Motto Professor of Families and Communities at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, and he also serves as the Associate Dean for Research and Training. He has been involved in research and higher education for 30 years. Dr. Mahoney’s research has focused primarily on parent and family influences on children’s development and social emotional functioning. He has published numerous studies on parent influences on the development of children at-risk or with disabilities, as well as on the application of research findings from the parent-child literature to early intervention practice.

Webpage https://case.edu/socialwork/about/directory/gerald-mahoney  and attached outline of his presentation


Rebecca Baxter  

Becky is a speech and language therapist registered with extensive experience in working with children with Down syndrome and their families. In 2011 Becky started the independent practice LETS Go! providing a comprehensive range of services developed to support children, families and professionals covering a  variety of speech, language and developmental needs. She continues to work as a consultant for Down Syndrome Education International providing training and consulting on the development of resources including the See and Learn teaching programmes.  Becky is currently completing a PhD looking at the use of print in developing the speech and language skills of children with Down syndrome.  

Webpage http://www.letsgouk.org/rebecca-baxter-certmrcslt/4576125274


Dr Pauline Frizelle

Dr Pauline Frizelle is a lecturer in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at UCC. Pauline graduated from Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh with a 1st class honours degree in Speech Pathology and Therapy. She returned to Ireland where she worked initially as a speech and language therapist (SLT) with children with Down syndrome and Autism spectrum disorder, and as an SLT manager in the area of physical disability. Pauline was the first SLT in Ireland to be awarded the HRB doctoral fellowship for the therapeutic professions. She completed her PhD in 2011, Investigating Complex Syntax in Children with Specific Language Impairment. In 2014, Pauline was awarded UCC’s Strategic Research Fund (2014) to begin her work on the development of an assessment of complex syntax. In 2015, she was awarded an ASSITid Marie Curie Fellowship and in 2016 she went to the University of Oxford to work with Professor Dorothy Bishop on the development of an animated assessment tool to investigate the understanding of complex syntax in children with Down syndrome and those with ASD. Pauline returned to Ireland in January 2017 to take up a full-time lecturing position in UCC. In July 2017 she was shortlisted for a HRB Lead Investigator award. Pauline’s talk will centre around the publication below


Frizelle P, Thompson PA, Duta M and Bishop DVM. (2018) The understanding of complex syntax in children with Down syndrome [version 1; referees: 2 approved]. Wellcome Open Res 2018, 3:140 (https://doi.org/10.12688/wellcomeopenres.14861.1)


Dr Ciara O’Toole

Dr Ciara O'Toole is a Lecturer in Speech and Language Therapy in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences UCC. Ciara gained her undergraduate degree in Clinical Speech and Language Studies from Trinity College Dublin in 1999. She then began working as a speech and language therapist in the Southern Health Board and COPE Foundation, where her main interests were in the areas of early language development and intellectual disabilities. She gained a Master's degree in Human Communication at University College London in 2003, investigating the relationship between symbolic functioning and language development in children with Down syndrome. She joined the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at and completed her doctoral degree in 2009, investigating early lexical and grammatical development of Irish-speaking children. For this she adapted the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories to Irish and used it to collect normative information on language acquisition in Irish speaking toddlers aged 16-40 months. In 2015 Ciara was awarded a HRB-Cochrane Training Fellowship where she carried out a review of parent-mediated interventions to improve the language and communication of children with Down syndrome aged 0-6. Her presentation will be based on this review and the following publication: O’Toole, C., Lee, A. S.-Y., Gibbon, F. E., van Bystervedlt, A. K., & Hart, N. J. (2018) Parent-mediated interventions for promoting communication and language development in young children with Down syndrome Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD012089. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012089.pub2.


Dr Vesna Stojanovik

Vesna Stojanovik (PhD) is a Professor of Clinical Linguistics at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading (UK) and is the Chair of the British Association of Clinical Linguistics. She is also currently the Director of Teaching and Learning for Clinical Programmes in the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences. She has been teaching on speech and language therapy programmes and has been involved in research into speech, language and communication disorders in children affected by genetic syndromes for almost 20 years. Vesna has been doing extensive research on language in children with Down syndrome since 2008 which has focused on investigating precursors to language in infants with Down syndrome, the role of early social communication skills and parental responsivity to language outcomes and has more recently been leading on an early intervention focusing on enhancing early communication skills. Vesna has been collaborating with charities such as DownsEd International and Breakthrough Learning and her research has been funded by the Economic and Social Sciences Research Council, The British Academy, Jerome Lejeune Foundation, the Baily Thomas Trust and the National Institute for Health Research.


Clare Carroll

Clare is a registered speech and language therapist and a fulltime lecturer.  Clare is part of the teaching team on the undergraduate speech and language therapy course and is co-director of the MSc in Childhood Speech, Language and Communication Needs. She has a wealth of clinical experience having worked with the Irish Health Service and in private practice. Clare is interested in lifelong learning and completed a MSc in Advanced Practice in Speech and Language Therapy.  Her Masters dissertation  investigated parents' perceptions of speech and language therapy services.   She also completed courses in counseling skills and participatory research. Clare was awarded her doctorate degree in 2016 in which she developed a model to enhance interdisciplinary team working practices for children with disabilities in Ireland. She has expertise in supporting the engagement and participation of children with disabilities in research and practice, in qualitative research methodologies and in supporting interdisciplinary practice in the field of disabilities. Clare is passionate about services being informed by the people who use them, in particular understanding what is important to people with disabilities. She is passionate about people with communication disabilities engaging and participating in research and in our communities.  Her research interests include early intervention and school aged disability services, integrated care, team working, and the participation of children with disabilities in research. #SpeakUp4CommRights #StandUp4HumanRights @Clare_Carroll1


Webpage http://www.nuigalway.ie/our-research/people/health-sciences/ccarroll/


Jo Gawn

Jo Gawn is  a specialist Speech and Language Therapist for people with Down syndrome and works with Symbol UK.


Lynda McGivney

Lynda is a practicing optometrist with an interest in intellectual and learning difficulties. She is also optometrist advisor to the Association of Optometrists and lecture in paediatric eye care to the profession. She was awarded an MSc by the University of Ulster and her special area of research interest is visual behaviour and literacy. Lynda completed post grad courses in Intellectual Disability and vision, again with University of Ulster. She has also have the full qualification as a Behavioural Optometrist and is a fully registered member with The British Association of Behavioural and Developmental Optometrists. Lynda has been clinical Director of the Special Olympics Opening Eyes Programme for Ireland since 2000 and has been actively responsible for developing the programme here in Ireland. Last year Lynda was the first Irish person to be awarded the Golisano Health Leadership award for her work done to improve the health and well being of individuals with Intellectual Disability. Lynda has also been nominated for the global award to be presented at the Wold Games in 2019 in Abu Dhabi.


Cathal Griffin

Cathal is employed at FEXCO, Killorglin, Co. Kerry as Supplies Ambassador. He works from 9.00 to 1.00 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and on Wednesday he works from 9.00 to 3.00. He is an active member of DSI Kerry,  of Glenbeigh Falcons Basketball Club, of Glenbeigh/ Glencar GAA club and of Killarney Swimmimg Club.


Location Information

How to Get to Brookfield Health Science Complex, UCC

Brookfield Health Science Complex is located about 500m up from the main UCC campus on College Road on the right hand side just beyond the Bon Secours Hospital. Click on map link below for more details. Brookfield building is # 13 on the mapVisitor Parking - Pay & Display

Visitors parking is located in the Undercroft area situated near the entrance to Brookfield Health Sciences Complex. This is a Pay & Display carpark. Alternative parking can be found at other locations throughout UCC Campus. Click here for more details.




Contact Us

For more details contact c.otoole@ucc.ie or p.frizelle@ucc.ie

Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences

Eolaíochtaí Urlabhra agus Éisteachta

1st Floor, Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, U.C.C., College Road, Cork.