Down Syndrome Research Forum 2019

The annual Down Syndrome Research Forum was recently held at University College London, attracting a record number of attendees, including researchers, practitioners and family members.

We would like to thank everyone who made this year's Forum so successful, especially Dr Jo Van Herwegen who hosted it at University College London. We welcomed 100 delegates with half being experienced researchers or professionals in the field and half being students or family members. Some of the family members also had professional hats.

We had a range of high-quality presentations on projects completed or in progress. Topics on day 1 included how individual differences in early years influence progress later in school, school transition, mediated learning, numeracy, anxiety, sleep, feeding issues, crawling, ethics and the experience of parents during screening. On day 2 topics included studies of early brain development, attention, looking at faces in interactions, the power of parents in early interactions, dual diagnoses of Down syndrome and autism, getting into work, speech issues, grammar development in adults, augmentative communication and language intervention. We had active research groups from 15 universities and 4 teaching hospitals. We had presentations from experienced researchers, students, support group leaders and parents. We had presenters from Ireland, Scotland and England. It was encouraging to see the range of research supported by experienced research groups, with the potential to improve interventions, support and outcomes for individuals with Down syndrome and their families.

There was much discussion and sharing of expertise among all the delegates so bringing together researchers, family members and practitioners was a success. The feedback from one presenter hopefully sums it up: "Thanks for another fantastic forum. This event is so unique in bridging that gap between research and the communities that researchers in our field endeavour to reach. I absolutely loved it."

It was a very positive and exciting meeting and we discussed ways in which we need to keep the links and dialogue going to the benefit of everyone. As one step towards this we have set up a Down Syndrome Research and Practice group on Facebook for those engaged in or interested in research. One request was for researchers to provide summaries of their research for the benefit of practitioners and parents. We will publish these in a section of our website and encourage those who wish to know more to discuss them on the Facebook page.

The abstracts for the talks are available on our web site.

Next year we will be at the University of Manchester, UK.